First Broody Hen-questions


In the Brooder
11 Years
Oct 16, 2008
Northwest Arkansas
I have my first Broody Hen (a Black Star)
. She is sitting in a regular nest box in the middle of the group of boxes. There are nine boxes, so the one she is in is about 3 feet off of the floor.

She has 5 eggs under her.

Everything I've read says that I need to move her out of the regular nest box into a more private area, close to the floor (so when the babies are born, they don't fall out).

The thing is, won't she just want to go back to "her" box? If I move the eggs she has been sitting on (for 3 days now), will she follow them? How do I keep her with the eggs once I have a boody area set up?

And, should I add extra nutrients to her water while she is broody to help her stay healthy?

Thanks for the help!!
She can stay where she is to brood as long as the others leave her alone. From what I understand, standard breeds are often broken of broodiness if you move the nest. Once the babies hatch, move Mama and co. to the ground floor.

If the worst happens, a 3ft fall, while not ideal, shouldn't hurt the baby. Didn't you ever see those Youtube videos of hatcheries? They toss the babies down chutes and onto conveyor belts! A short fall onto shavings or hay would probably be must gentler.

I am going to try to leave her in there then. The others seem to be leaving her alone and I have plenty of other boxes for them to lay in. I will just make her get up about twice a day to eat and drink.

I have never seen the YouTube videos of the baby chick tossing, and it kind of sounds like I don't want to!! That's terrible!
I'm on my 5th broodie with eggs under her (which gives me enjough insight to be danderous so if anyone sees something I've miss learned speak up- please) - all have hatched eggs except the last who still sitting. Here's what I've observed/learned so far:
1. I'm moving my broodie to it's own pen ASAP- because it's a nighmare with others laying in her nest when she's off it to eat/poop, then She gets back in the wrong nest sitting on good eating eggs while hers go unattended till I get home and move her. I then have to eat the eggs myself instead of selling (which is ok but I have enough to eat without adding to it)
2. I'm putting the nesting box on the floor and making it wood, not plastic totes like I have done with these 4 broodies. Momma slips around alot, eggs slide out, etc. wood with a small lip (that the chicks can get over) will be the ticket. My chicks that took the 2 ft plunge into the pine shavings were fine but momma stayed on the floor with them while her eggs got cold all night.
3. I'm gonna have my bator ready cause 2 of the 4 hens decided that they'd rather stay out of the nest covering the chicks than do so in the nest on the remaining eggs. Lost a bunch of eggs to the cold right when they were ready to hatch .
4. I'm gonna do the above and worry less in general, cause broody hens know what they are doing typically.

Good luck, Keystonepaul
I didn't think about her leaving the ones that haven't hatched yet to tend the ones that have. I have a feeling that it is going to be a loooonngg day for me when/if the eggs start hatching (I'm trying not to get my hopes up to high for my first try!)
Do you pen the momma up to keep her from going back to "her" nest? I just don't know how moving them is going to work...

But, I do like the "worry less" that seems like a very good idea!
First of all, if you don't move her, mark the eggs with a Sharpie that you want her to set, so if/when the others lay in there, you know which to remove. This is how I did it last year. I was out there 4-5 times a day to monitor and move broodies and eggs around. Got one chick out of 3 or 4 I'd chosen to be set. (I had hens taking turns setting on the eggs!)

This year I moved broody and eggs into an old wire cage in the coop. They say you can get the broody to accept the move by doing it at night. Did not work for me. I moved her favorite nest into the cage, too, and put a cardboard box in the coop for the others to lay in. It worked! Most people aren't lucky enough to have the favorite nest be a single box, though. And I had the wire cage lying around, too.

Going to build a broody pen or two in the new coop.
I agree that you need to move her. I've had two broody experiences recently.
The first I moved within her first week of setting and it was a good experience all together. The second I left until two days before hatch and it was a nightmare. The eggs were marked, but she would go eat and drink and someone else would want to take over her eggs. She would get in the wrong nest and stay until I got home to move her back. I had to get her out of the nest every day to check for eggs that other hens may have laid in her nest. It wasn't fun.

Move her at night and do something to prevent her from being able to leave. For example, I put mine in a cardboard nest box inside a large dog house( with ventilation) and blocked the exit of the dog house. Worked both times.

edited to add that you should only have to keep them in broody jail on their new nest for about a day or so, then they will stay on their own. Sometimes they become more attached to the nest than they are to the eggs and it's hard to get them to accept a new one.
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Okay. I think this weekend will be spent re-arranging the coop to add a broody area!

Thank you all for your input. I am really grateful for all the good advice!

Oh, does anyone know if I should add extra nutrient to her water, or will she be fine without it?

Thanks again!
You don't need to add anything to the water.
I did switch my broodies to chick starter while they were sitting on the advice of someone on this forum so they would not have such runny poop. They don't really need layer feed while they are broody anyway, and you will probably switch them to chick starter once the chicks hatch.

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