Help: Is My Hen Going Broody Or What?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Apr 25, 2010
I have a Plymouth Rock hen that I have had since March as a bittie. I also have 2 other chickens, both hens, same ages, one is a White Rock and one is a RIR. They have been laying eggs for a few months now and are about 9 months old. I have a nice 10x10 coop and I have a fenced in back yard (1 acre) that they free range in during the day. They have always went back to the nesting box in the coop to lay their eggs and then they go back in the yard until night time. Of course when darkness falls, they go back and get up high to roost side by side.

Today my Plymouth Rock has been in the coop ALL DAY in the nesting box. She is just sitting on the eggs that are in there and we typically collect them in the afternoon. We cant collect them because she will not get off of them. I have read up on Broody chickens and she is exhibiting some of the signs and symptoms. She was making some weird noises yesterday in the yard that were not typical. Today my wife said she has been in the box all day and when my wife gets close to her she starts her high pitched cackle. Tonight when my other hens went in the coop to roost, she is still sitting in the nest box which has never happened.

Should I be concerned or just let her be?
If so, how do I go about getting the eggs without upsetting her?
Can a hen go broody with no rooster around?
What about ensuring she is eating and drinking?

This just started today so obviously we are concerned and fairly new to chickens so any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Sounds like she is trying to go broody.
It's up to you if you want to have a broody hen in the middle of the winter. I would not recommend it, it makes it harder for a successful hatching rate, plus it will be to cold for the chicks to survive outside. You can brake her habit by taking her out of the nest when you see her, and if possible to close the coop during day for few days.
I've had a broody hen before, and I can tell you it takes a lot from a hen. During the 21 days they eat very little (mine lost half of her body weight) and they NEED that fat, specialy in the winter, to stay warm.
I have the same problem with one of my young bantam d'anver hen. The poor thing is keep trying to go broody, even thou at night is getting very cold, and I was expecting for them to stop laying not to go broody.
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Just wanted to be sure, but based on everything I have read, it does sound as though she may be broody. Unfortunately we don't want any baby chicks right now and it is bad timing for her to go broody. I guess what I am gathering is going broody means that she is doing as her maternal instinct tells her with the eggs even though there is no rooster. I hope to try to break it and closing the coop would be a good idea other than they have nowhere high in my yard to get at night other than the coop. I have 3 nesting boxes for 3 hens (first time coop design mistake) considering they all use the same nesting box. I found out after the fact that more than one chicken can use a nesting box. My concern is that is where my other 2 hens lay their eggs and with her in there, they may lay in the yard somewhere. They have NEVER laid in the other nesting boxes which are right beside their laying box. There is something special about that one I guess. I have been told to remove that particular nest box, but then the concern is once again if the others will lay in one of my other 2 boxes considering they have only used that one. Others have told me to just let her be and get it out of her system considering she may be a first time broody. Just don't want her losing that weight right now considering winter is here.
I've read here that chilling the chest is an effective way to break a broody. Either place an ice cube under her (wear gloves, she'll bite!) or physically remove her from the nesting box and lock her out of it for the day.
Ohh, and one more thing,
Yes, hens do go broody even if they don't have a rooster around. They will behave the same with or without a rooster, the only difference is that the eggs she is sitting on are not fertile. If you don't really want to hatch, then is better not to let her stay on the eggs, simply because they do loose a lot of weight and it's not very easy on them.
In the spring, if you want, you can give her few fertile eggs (buy them online) and let her go broody to her heart content. At least her one month hard work will have a some happy result.
I`ve got a little different perspective than Arianna. Hens can have a good hatch, even in winter. They also have no problem keeping their chicks warm. Yes, it seems she is broody. Who`s the wimp here. If you are afraid of her, put on a jacket and gloves and do whatcha gotta do. If you decide to let her hatch some fertile eggs, better get some in a hurry. Swap out the unfertile eggs she has now with the fertile ones at night so you don`t stress her. Then just leave her alone. Good idea to mark the eggs she is to hatch if you have other hens that might lay in her nest. Check each night with a flashlight and remove the new eggs. Don`t worry about feeding her, she will leave the nest when she needs to and stretch, eat, drink, and eliminate. She will return to the nest when she feels the urge and will do her job. Your job is security, food, water, and patience. here is the best article on broodies I`ve ever read. Good luck..........Pop
I have dealt with a broody hen several times now, here is what I do. take the eggs, yes every egg ( if you do not want chicks or keep her in broody mode) I take every egg away, yes she fluffs up and hisses, so what I lift her right up lol, then I lay her on the ground out side the coop. if she goes back in I lock her out for the time being. at night she will try to hit into the nest, I just tske her out and put her on the roost. this may take me several days but it works. we plan to finally let her have a bunch this february or MArch
You don't have to close the coop at night, only during the day for couple of hours. If she is off the eggs for few hours a day for the next 3-4 days that will be enough to break the broody instinct. As far as nest boxes, chickens like to lay in the same box, often times together in the box in the same time, but they adapt very easy to any new changes. You can make them lay anywhere you want them to, all you have to do is put an egg (or a golf ball) in the nest box you want them to lay.
Good luck.

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