Making sure I know what to do if one of my hens goes broody


In the Brooder
10 Years
Aug 22, 2009
I have 11 chickens. no rooster. 6 are standard sized pullets, only one has started laying. 5 are bantams of varying ages the oldest a little over 1 year. I have only had chickens for a month now and I am hoping that if one of my banties goes broody she can hatch out some chicks but before that happens I want to make sure I know what to do.

So, if she goes broody I read I need to pay attention to the signs, sitting in the nest, protective behavior, puffing up, etc.

And if she stays broody I can add fertilized eggs at night right?

What I am not sure about is where do I put her? Does she stay in the coop with the rest of the hens? Can she just stay in the nesting box where she started going broody?


Do I need to put her in a caged area by herself with food and water. Would that mean she would have to stay in there all the time and could the caged area at least be inside the coop?


Assuming she does hatch out chicks and I've let her stay in the original nesting box, does she protect them and keep them warm until they are feathered? (if she's the typical chicken mom)


Do I have to keep her and the chicks in a caged area until they are older.

My chickens do not free range, they live in the coop and have a fully enclosed outdoor play area.

I'm sure the answers are here somewhere but I've done so much research and I just can't seem to decide which way I should go. I would rather my hen be happy and stay in the nesting box and be able to hop out for a couple minutes to eat, drink and be happy.

I realize I am probably jumping the gun but I'm trying to decide if I should buy an incubator or let my hens go broody... I would rather they do it unless it means I have to keep them caged than I might go the artificial route.

I appreciate any help on this!
It is best to put her in a separated area. Others will continue to lay in the nest and it is hard to keep track of which eggs are which. Once the hatch the others can be a problem if you have many. Mom will guard the babies but there is a limit. Some just screen off an area in the coop to let the broody sit with her companions around. I like this method because you don't have re-introduction issues later on. Everyone is used to the chicks from the getgo and they accept them and the mammy easily one she is released from the confined area.
If I may add just two things to the above, be sure the nest is ground level, as the chicks need easy access to and from and, if you move her, do it in the dark of night so you don`t stress her. Have fun.......Pop
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Thanks for the replies. I do have space on the floor of the coop that I could make an enclosure. I work from home, so I guess I could confine her but just open up her enclosure door while I'm out cleaning up the coop so she has the opportunity to leave for a few minutes if she wants to spread her wings and take a quick dust bath. That would probably work right?
It would work fine if she would cooperate with your schedule. They are in somewhat of a trans while broody, so she will probably just set there and growl at you. Don`t worry about it. As long as she has room to get away frm the nest, even a foot or so, for eliminations, she will be fine.......Pop
These threads might help you.

Isolate a Broody? Thread

Raise with flock? thread

Different people do each of these differently. There are benefits and risks each way. On the raising with a flock question, I think how much space you have is a huge issue. If you are tight on space, raising them separately is probably the way to go but be careful of reintegration issues. If you can make a separate space where they can see each other, it will be better.

Good luck!
Thank you so much for posting this question and to all of you who responded. I too have 2 broody hens and they've been in their own corner of the barn, but know I can't leave them there if the eggs hatch. I've been really unsure what to do. Now I do. Thank you for helping me as well.
If the hens are protective enough, you CAN leave them there. My best broody hens used to bring the chicks into the main coop area and protect them from all comers. It all depends on the dynamics of your flock, and the size of the space.

If the hen is low on the pecking order, use more caution, but if she's tough enough, you can see how they all do... just have a plan B ready in case you nee to isolate them a little more.
I've added eggs during the day. The silkies didn't care, they just wanted eggs to sit on.

I have a small hutch built that I move the hen too. Half of the floor is wood and the other half is wire. I keep food and water in chick-size dispensers for her to eat out of. Once a day, we let her out to stretch her legs, dustbathe and munch on some grass. The chicks and mom stay there until the chicks move around pretty well, then I move them all to the "chick holder" in the run. That way the rest of the flock can get used to seeing them. Mom gets to leave when she's ready, but the chicks stay in the holder until they're big enough to fend for themselves.

This is the way that works best for me now, but I'm changing things as I go along and learn more.

My current mom is the lowest of the pecking order and I had never seen her peck anybody. I was really worried that she might not be able to defend her chicks. That was until I saw her grab another silkie's crest and pull out a beakful of feathers, just for walking nearby. Roo has stepped up and is helping with the chicks too.

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