Help! I've got a broody hen and I'm inexperienced at this!


12 Years
Feb 9, 2011
Scotts Mills OR
Hi, I'm new to chickens--only had my full grown Ameraucanas for a couple of months now. 10 hens and a rooster.

Suddenly, one of the girls has been sitting in one of the nests for 2 straight days. I can't get her to move. She isn't aggressive, she actually seems like she's trying to ignore me. From what I've read on BYC, she must be broody. I tried prying her off the nest with a rake (very gently), but she is heavy and won't budge. I can't tell how many eggs she's sitting on, if any (I collect eggs every day so it can't be much). If she is sitting on any eggs, I've decided to let her hatch them. I'm hoping everything will work out!

Any thoughts, recommendations, ideas?
Oh, I thought I'd mention, the chickens are all at least a couple of years old. I inherited them from their previous owners, who had to move and couldn't keep them. So the chickens know what they're doing, it's just me who's new at this!
Gently pick her off the nest and put her on the ground. Mark the eggs that she is setting on with a pencil. An X or O will be enough. On a daily basis remove any eggs that are added to the clutch. If you have a way of isolating her from the other chickens, that is even better. A hen that size could easily incubate 12 - 15 eggs. Good luck with this experience. You do realize that roughly 50 % of the chicks will be roosters, right?
Well, I started to pick her up, but I'm ashamed to say, she turned her head and looked at me...and I chickened out. She's wedged in a corner and I have to hover directly over her to pick her up, and I have this image in my mind of her flying up and attacking me. So I will try again after it gets dark and she's out cold.

At least my fiancee is getting a lot of entertainment out of this.
You could use some heavy gloves, like insulated winter gloves. I just hold my hand up against their head and neck, on the side, then reach under with the other hand. They don't want to peck the hand by their head but the hand underneath them.

I mark my eggs with a Sharpie. I draw a line all the way around the middle so I can tell which eggs are to be hatched without picking them up. Here is a great article about broodies:
Mine pecks me but it it not like a bite. She doesn't break the skin. You need to practice letting her peck at your hand till you get used to it. It is not really so bad. Then you can reach in with confidence and do what you need to do.
But is a SHARPIE the best choice to mark with? From what I have learned they say to use only pencil. The idea is that the fumes from such as sharpie could go through the shell to the chick.
I had a hen that would not leave the nest for two days. Yes, she was broody! I don't have a roo and didn't want her sitting on the eggs. I put on my gloves and took her off the nest, put her in a medium sized cage and put her in a dark room (utility room), with water and food. She stayed in the cage for two days and I released her back in with the flock. That took care of her broodiness! A week and a half later she was laying eggs again! Since I'm new to all of this, I was really happy to find my answers right here on BYC! Good Luck and God Bless!
Yay, I did it!! I used rose-pruning gloves, and she did try a couple of lighthearted pecks, but much less aggressive than when some of them eat scratch out of my bare hand. I put her on the ground and she just sat there clucking very quietly. There were 8 eggs (including 1 from the Barred Rock--I can tell because it's not blue/green). I used a pencil to mark an X on each egg, and then put her back on with no fuss whatsoever!

So you say we'll get 4 hens and 4 roos if they all hatch eh? Oy.
First, I suggest you read this thread. It might help.

Isolate a Broody? Thread

I've used Sharpies and soft leaded pencils. I find it makes absolutely no difference. I don't like hard leaded pencils because it is difficult to get a mark dark enough to not wear off and it can be hard to see. Like Ddawn, I usually just draw a line all the way around so I can see at a glance which eggs belong, usually with a Sharpie.

There is no telling how many of what sex you will get. I've had hatches split 50-50 and I've had hatches that have been 1/3-2/3 split.

In some ways you are lucky to have a broody that is that gentle. When growing up in the farm many decades ago, my job was to collect the eggs. If we had a broody, I had to look under her every day. Some of those broodies were OK but some were pretty vicious. I really did not want to look under them. But no way was I going to tell my father that I was afraid of a broody hen. Gloves were not even an option for me. You do what you have to do.

Good luck and welcome to the adventure.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom