broody hen. want her to succeed but a couple of problems.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 26, 2009
One of our buff orphintons went broody 5 days ago. First time 28 week old hen. I have 3 concerns.

1) She seems to have moved the straw that was in the nest out too far in radius. Most of the eggs (12) are on the wood floor of the box.
2) one of the eggs was slightly broken. It contained a developing chick.
3) she has worn most of the feathers off the center of her breast bone.

What should I do? Should I put more straw in and rebuild the nest (she has access to all the clean,loose straw she wants? Should I leave her alone? Should I break her broodness and discard the eggs to save her belly feathers? Should I move her to a separate coop (I have one available but thought she might not like the relocation.)

Thanks for the help.Details below.

Day 1-2 We see she is setting hard on the nest. I gently moved her and took the eggs. She pecked and stayed broody. I checked her crop, vent and abdomen to see if she was sick/impacted. Nothing wrong at all. Then she runs right back "her" box. it is a 4x4=16 regular laying box. Plenty of fresh straw available and in the other nests.

3. Gave in. moved her off the box removed the eggs. My dad put more straw in. took a total of 10 eggs from that day, numbered them gently with a pencil. set up a fortress such that nothing can get in or out of her "row" but her or another hen. She has a small food/water dish close to "her" box.

Day 4. We leave her alone. Healthy and happy as I guess a broody hen can be. She leaves the nest just a couple times per day then goes right back on it.

Day 5. We pick her up. 3 more eggs under her, including an EE. one egg is broke. the straw seems to have been moved out such that the eggs are on the bottom of the box.

Flock Details below.

Free range. Only locked up at night. They get layer crumbles. treats from the garden/table (tomatoes, cabbage,squash and old bread) They have acres to play in, including a rock driveway, sand pile, small duck pond, waterers everywhere and more dust baths than I could make in a day.

29 hens (7 barred rock, 9 buff oprhinton, 10 RIRs 3 EE hens)
3 roosters. A white leghorn #1, A barred rock #2, and something I think is leghorn. (beautiful bird #2.5)
4 ducks.
2 Bronze turkey hens. 1 Bronze tom. 2 BB toms.

All the birds are approximately 28 weeks old. No other chicken hens are broody.
i would more of less just let her do thing. get rid of any broken eggs. ideally it would be good to put something around her so the other chicken cant get in there and lay eggs on top of her or while shes gone (this is who i'm betting is doing the scratching around in the nest).
Thanks. But that is the thing I can not figure out. How can I make so she can come and go, but none of the others can? The roos,ducks and turkeys have no chance of getting to that bottom row of boxes.

I can isolate her. Set her up in a run with a new nest. But will she still set? and/or will she miss her cluck? (she was always #1 'till she went broody and that is why I want to make sure I am doing the right things.)

As you can tell, I am a rookie at this stuff.
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Congrats on having a broody! They save me a lot of time and worry...

It's normal for broody hens to lose feathers along their breast - these are called brood patches. The contact with the bare skin helps keep the eggs warmer and it helps keep them moist.

As far as the straw goes...I personally would try to put a little more under the eggs for some more cushion. If she keeps pushing it away I guess I would just let it be.

My broody Buff Orp was a little clumsy and she broke / cracked a few eggs. I think that was because I started her on too many eggs (14!). Once she had less than a dozen eggs she didn't have problems with cracking them or covering them completely.

Like beefy said other hens could be doing the scratching around and cracking of eggs too. My BO always goes broody in the nest boxes and the others usually don't try to disturb or lay in her box when she's I haven't had to relocate her. If new eggs keep showing up and eggs keep getting cracked you may need to move your girl to more private quarters...

Hope that helps.
Hi I have learned to pad my nesting boxes after getting too many eggs cracked by my laying hens. I use artificial grass on the bottom of the nesting box. To increase the padding I use wood chips under the grass liner and then straw on top for the nesting. No cracks so far!

I hope my buff goes broody next spring. Have fun!
Thanks to both of you. It helps knowing that the feather loss is normal and actuality better for the chicks to be. That was my big concern. I'll add straw and leave her in "her" box. Heck, before she went broody the whole coop was hers all the other hens just payed rent and had to ask nicely to get into any of the nests.

Thanks again.
if i have hens trying to share the broodies nest i will but a dog kennel over the broody with some food and water in it for a few days until the other hen establishes a new nest and leaves the broody alone. then i just open the the door during the day so she can come and go as she pleases.
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When my BO was broody this spring, I tried to move her and her baby golfballs
to a different location right before her foster chicks came...but she would NOT have any of that! Her nest was the last nest box on the left!!! lol.
When she went broody again this fall I just let her be...

If you can't move her and the other hens keep laying and bothering her, I guess you could try to make the other nests more enticing by adding fake eggs or golfballs.

Tip: I fed my broody BO treats (birdseed) and petted her each day while she was on the nest...she loved also makes the chicks tamer when momma teaches them that you are the friendly treat person!

When the eggs start hatching, I temporarily staple up a small piece of chicken wire to cover the nest box and shut the momma in with a little food and water...that way nosy hens stay out and newly hatched peeps don't fall out of the nest box into the coop while you're not there to help. Once most of the chicks hatch you can take them out of the nest box and put them in a separate area with their momma. The momma will go wherever her chicks are.

This is all stuff I've learned this year...hope it helps. Good luck!
Are you talking about big dog kennels or small? We kinda did a small set up inside the coop (dedicated garage) around her row in the nesting boxes. But with a way that she can get in an out. would it be okay to just shut off that entire bottom row with food and water for her till the other hens use the second row? (or 3rd or 4th)

My concern is I have 29 hens that are used to that set of boxes. in that location. For now they mostly seem to be going to the open boxes on the other levels. but I could also move the broody and set her up with a new complete seprate habitat. I just want to make sure she doesn't quit on the eggs in the process either way.

Thanks again everyone.
i wouldnt move her at all i would just find some way to shut her off with food and water. when i've tried to move them and cage them they almost always get off the next morning and pace back and forth until the eggs get cold. but if she is used to being there already she wont do that. i use one of the large dog kennels and the holes in the bottom of it are actually big enough for me to slide over the entire broody and nest most of the time.

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