Broody Hen Not Eating, Drinking or Pooping


Aug 12, 2016
I got my first chicks in February of this year and one of my Cuckoo Malines is the first to go broody.

She starting sitting on eggs on Sunday or Monday of this week.

The BYC wisdom indicated that we should move her out of the general population nesting boxes and into her own place.

On Tuesday night under the cover of darkness we moved her to the brooder we used to raise the chicks, its a good size, about 2.5' by 4'. Inside the brooder I build a nesting box about the same size as in the coop. She seemed to settle into the new place fine, she went right back to sitting on the eggs.

Since we moved her there is no evidence that she eaten, drank anything or pooped. There are waterers and a feeder right beside the nest box, I tried hand feeding her, nothing. Gave here greens, nothing. Brought the water to her and dipped her beak, nothing.

This morning I lifted her off the eggs and moved her out of the nesting box, she just sat on the ground and squacked. I walked away for 5 minutes as it seemed my presence was stressing here out, when I can back she was back on the eggs, hard to tell if she drank anything but defiantly no poop.

At this point not sure what to do next, wait it out and hope that she will drink before she gets too dehydrated? Force feed water with a syringe? Take here off the eggs and put her back in general population?

Advice appreciated;

I am hands off with my broodies. I usually separate them, make sure they have access to food and water, and other than making sure food and water are full, leave them be. They don't burn much energy sitting there, so they won't eat and drink as much. I place food and water several feet from the nest so she will get up, stretch her legs, and poop outside of the nest. (You don't want her soiling the eggs.) if left to nest on their own, a broody will usually find a well-hidden place and try to exit the nest when no one is around (most likely to make sure a predator doesn't follow her back to the nest). It could be she's stressed by your presence. I would suggest you peek in once a day or so, but leave her be otherwise. Check eggs every several days if you'd like, to make sure there are no broken ones. (If brooding in the general population, you'd need to make sure the other hens haven't made any "donations to the cause").

One other thing to think about. Chickens have been hatching eggs for centuries with little to no "help" from humans. If they didn't know what they were doing, they'd be extinct. ;)
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I let my broody do her thing in the main coop, without any input from me. She will do as she pleases and knows what she's doing. She is the alpha hen, I should add and that makes things easier. From day 1, the chicks are with momma in the main coop and they all do very well and need no intervention from me apart from food and water.

My advice is not to overthink things- the joy of having a broody hatch is to stand back and marvel at mother nature - its the best bit about keeping chickens, imo.
Every time I've tire to let a broody set in with the rest of the flock, I end up with broken eggs. Every. Single. Time. And I've been doing this a long time, in several different settings. (Just tried it again this year.) So, I separate and reintegrate when the chicks are around a week old.
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Just goes to show how fickle chickens are and why we all do things differently - good thing we should all bear in mind
I agree with the others. And it soumds like pretty normal broody behavior to me. From what I've read they don't leave the nest at all the first few days to a week and then they start slowly getting up occasionally to walk around, eat, drink, poo, cool off eggs, whatever, then goes back to sitting on the eggs. They may only leave the nest once or maybe a few times a day or sometimes now even every day. They know what they are doing and the eggs need to be kept warm. And btw be warned that when they do poop broody poop is huge stinky and nasty much more so than normal from what I've read since they go so long without going i guess. So yeah. She's probably fine and honestly might be more stressed out by your attempts to help, althougg well intended. Like others said just leave her be and let her do her job. They're not stupid, they won't starve or dehydrate themselves.
Definitely move the feed and water to where she can't reach it from the nest, you don't want them pooping int he nest.

I actually dipped my broody's beak in the waterer when I could tell she hadn't left the nest in 3-4 days,
she kinda snapped out of her stupor and drank and drank, then ate and ate, then ran around, dust bathed, took a huge dump
and back to nest after about 10 minutes of activity. After that she regularly ate, drank, pooped.
I also went in daily and touched her, lifted her a bit to look at eggs, she hated it at first, growled an bit me,
(bribed her with a tiny treat the first couple times) but she quickly got used to me being in her business.
I did this because she was previously wildly opposed to being handled and there was no reason to handle her before.
Was very helpful down the road when she had a chick stuck in her breast feathers and she had no problem letting me take care of it.
It took 3 days but she finally got off the eggs and took care of business.

Since then she has been getting off the eggs every 2 days.

Thanks for all the advice,


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