Dealing With Broodies A Complete Guide To Dealing With Broody Hens

By Theeggboxtoo · Feb 13, 2012 · ·
  1. Theeggboxtoo
    Identifying a broody

    When a hen is broody she will generally have one or more of the following characteristics;

    1. Puffing her feathers up; A broody hen will puff up to make herself look bigger to predators
    2. Growling and biting; Most broodies are grumpy and hormonal, and will peck you if you get to close to her or her eggs.
    3. Staying in the nest box; A broody hen will make herself a nest in a place she deems safe (normally in the place where she lays her eggs) and sit there most of the time, getting up only to eat drink and relieve herself.
    4. Pulling her feathers out; A broody hen pulls her feathers out to keep her eggs warm.

    Picture of a broody hen:

    Do you want a broody?

    Broodies can be very useful, if you want more chicks and you don't want to buy an incubator, or if you would prefer to raise chicks the natural way. Broodies can also be a hindrance because they don't lay while broody.

    Breaking a broody

    If you can't have any more chickens (or don't want any more[​IMG] ) it is possible to break a broody. There is several ways to do this - here are a couple:
    • Taking her out of the nest as often as possible. This way doesn't work for stubborn broodies, and most people don't have the time to do this.
    • Separating her from her nest. This way will work most of the time, you simply move the broody to another coop or even a dog crate so she can't go back to her nest. Just make sure you give her food and water or you might force her into a molt.

    Should you separate her?

    If you decide you want a broody you can let her incubate the eggs in the coop, but I don't recommend it if you have other layers in the coop, because they will steal her eggs and lay in her nest while she is taking a break. If you decide to separate her and you want a inexpensive coop to put her in here is an idea:


    Incubation and Hatching

    After you've separated her (or decided not to) it's time to give her eggs! A hen can hatch chicken, duck, turkey, guinea, and goose eggs (there is probably more, but these are the ones I know a chicken can hatch) Just make sure you don't give her too many, she won't be able to turn them if you do. My bantam Frizzle hen can cover 7 large fowl eggs and raise 10 chicks. Most hens will do very well with about 15 eggs, but some can do as many as 20, it really depends on the breed. You always need to give the hen at least 3 eggs in case something happens to one, so the others will still have a friend. The eggs should hatch on day 21, but they could hatch early or late depending on the temperatures during incubation. When my hens went broody last year it was 100 degrees most of the day so the chicks kept hatching a day early.

    Buttercup with her new baby

    After the Hatch

    A broody hen will stay in the box until all of her chicks have hatched and then she will get out of the box and start teaching them to scratch and dust and do other chickeny things. We use unmedicated chick food and water in the coop that the babies can reach. Don't worry about giving her layer food until she starts to lay again. She should start to lay 4-8 weeks after the chicks hatch, this is a sign that she is ready to leave her chicks.

    If you have any questions you can you can post them in this thread!

    Happy Hatching!

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  1. michaelinnc84
  2. Theeggboxtoo
    Yes, they will go broody after a year :)
  3. mamaluvschick
    thank-you for writing that. Our hens aren't quite a year old yet, but was thinking of maybe just letting some broody hens hatch some chicks for me, so I dont have to do anything. :) Do they get broody after a year?
  4. Theeggboxtoo
    I had a Buff Orpington hen that acted like that, but she only went broody once. She could just be laying an egg when she acts like that, I have an red star that growls and puffs up while laying.
    Hope this helps!
  5. SueBaby
    I have a hen that acts broody for a couple of hours most days. Is this just her personality or will she eventually get to the point where she goes truly broody and won't leave the nest at all? I've been worried about that, so I actually reach in under her (despite the growling and puffing, but thankfully no pecking) and take the eggs she's sitting on when I catch her acting this way. I don't have a rooster, so there's not point in letting her sit on any eggs right now. Thoughts?
  6. chloezoebob101
    This was very helpful! thank you!

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