Is My Chicken Broody?


A ‘broody’ hen is one that is intent on rearing chicks. Unless you’re trying to breed your chickens, this isn’t an ideal situation – she’ll be off her food, she’ll jealously protect the eggs she’s incubating, and she’ll seldom move from her chosen nesting spot. It’s not good for birds to remain in this situation for very long, as she’s going to be disappointed – unless she’s been near a rooster within the last week, she’ll be incubating unfertilised eggs which won’t hatch. She may not eat properly or lay within this period, so you might want to take steps to remove her from such a state.


However, there is some disagreement about whether you should try to. Some people suggest that ‘breaking’ a broody hen is bad for them emotionally, and that it’s natural for them to be broody occasionally. However, others suggest that it’s not harmful to the bird, and that as long as you’re gentle, it shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll want to come to your own conclusions before deciding what to do about your broody hen.


Broody hens will rarely want to leave their nests

If you do decide to try to put an end to the broody period, then some owners have had success with the following techniques. Please bear in mind that hens, even those that are usually placid, may be rather aggressive in this state. You may want to wear gloves to protect yourself before attempting the following solutions:

  1. Removing the eggs – if you remove all eggs each morning, there’ll be nothing for your hens to incubate.

  2. Remove her from the nest – if you physically remove your bird from her nest and place her somewhere else in the cage several times a day, she may lose interest and give up.

  3. Stop her from accessing the nest site – if her nest site is in a remote area of the run, you may want to prevent her from incubating in the spot she’s chosen, so that she can’t physically sit on it. If she’s chosen a very dark spot, there is some evidence to suggest that moving the site so that it’s better lit will encourage her to move. She wants somewhere secluded and safe to raise her chicks, so if the environment becomes unsuitable, she may give up.

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Comments

Carol, 29 May 2019

My chickens live in a large cage with a roof, rather like a mesh greenhouse. They have taken to sleeping on top of their coop, inside the cage. Will this do them any harm?


Green, 3 August 2016

My white and black silky Dalmation, is about five months old and is already getting ready to lay some eggs. With her mate Comet a serima and his sister Poppy ready at her side. Dalmation will not leave Comet's side and Comet will usually bring her some grass or pellets from the food container. Also the cross breed for a silky and a serima is a frizzle but you will hope to get a Frizzle hen because they are actulay the best hen and because the frizzle's crow sounds like a brocken violin.


Amanda, 9 June 2016

I have just had an Australorp gone broody and comments above are useful. I opened the nestbox hatch and poured a small amount of water over her head to try and rehydrate and break the broodyness. it seemed to break the torpor that she had entered and she crossly moved onto a perch in the house. I then opened the back door of the house and she grudgingly went out. she is now eating her favourite corn with her mates outside and I am hoping that she will now stop.....


Cornerstone, 21 March 2015

We have a broody bantam, very aggressive, so we moved her to a separate box, but I love her being there. Her male partner died a few weeks ago, so I know her eggs won`t be fertile. I just bought 6 eggs from a local breeder and swapped her eggs for these others. One week to go!


Chloe, 21 September 2013

when my chook went broody we bought some fertilised eggs for her and they hatched within the 3-4 weeks!!

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