Prepping for a hen to go broody


11 Years
Mar 1, 2010
South Carolina
I recently acquired a rooster for my flock of 9. I am hoping that one of my girls will take a notion to set in the near future. I'd like to experience it myself, as well as have the kids experience it. Is there anything I should do in anticipation? Should I go ahead and set up a nesting area that's darker and more secluded than the normal nesting boxes? At the present, I only have two normal boxes (in the process of adding a couple) and would hate for one to set up shop in one of those two. I guess there's no way to tell if or encourage a hen to go broody, is there? (my girls are 3 BR, 3 BO, and 3 EE)




10 Years
Apr 10, 2009
NW Indiana
You'll probably get a lot better/more knowledgeable answers than mine.
In my (very limited) experience with broody hens, I'd say you can do everything you want to encourage & assist broodiness, but the hen will do what she thinks is right.

So far I've had THE WORLD'S MOST broody Houdan hen - a breed not noted for their setting abilities.
She was godawfulscreechingpulloutyourfeathers broody for 3 MONTHS!
I'd chase her off a nestbox, she'd go right back.
I had no rooster at the time, so any setting she wanted to do was pointless.

After the third month, when no end seemed in sight & I was worried she seemed to have lost weight, I visited a friend over the weekend who raised chicks.
She gave me 2 day-old chicks with the idea I'd try slipping them under Queen Broody when I got home 2 days later.
I got home & it was like the switch got turned to OFF.

Now I have a Black Star hen who's pulled out her breast feathers and spends some time on the nestbox, but she's apparently Broody-ADD
She'll gather everyone's eggs and sit, then get distracted
"Ooooh! Something shiny!! Food!!!" and off she goes.
This has gone on for about 2 months.
And I now have a rooster (one of the day-olds from last Summer) so she could hatch if she had a mind to.
Go figure.


11 Years
Aug 12, 2009
BuCo, KS
My Coop
My Coop
Unfortunately, no matter how much we want it, they won't go broody until they're good and ready. From the time I started, all I wanted was to have a hen go broody and raise her own chicks. I got breeds that are known for broodiness and sat back and waited...and waited. I read that if they haven't gone broody by the time they are a year old, the chance decreases that they ever will. As my broody breeds approached their second birthdays, I gave up and built an incubator. Then, six weeks ago, a hen who was 18-months-old and a BSL who is bred for egg production and therefore NOT for broodiness, decided the biological clock was ticking and it was TIME. The only problem was, thanks to my incubator I am already at max capacity in terms of number of birds, PLUS she went broody in the middle of a colossal heat wave. We wound up having a record number of triple digit days this summer and this poor girl was sitting, panting, on her nest for many of them. The good news is she hatched out 7 happy, healthy chicks 2 1/2 weeks ago and the experience has been, for me, everything I had hoped it would be. Now I just have to figure out what to do with my 7 chicks I'm not supposed to have....

Anyway, the moral of my story is that you can prepare but don't be surprised if it doesn't turn out the way you'd like or in the timing you'd like.


10 Years
Feb 12, 2009
Pike Co., GA & Palm Beach Co., FL
Wade, build you a nest box and set it on the floor with 3-4 marked eggs in it. If the girls show any interrest in laying there, collect all the fresh eggs and leave the marked ones. If you`re gonna get any of them to set, this will be the encouragement they need. May not happen overnight, so ya might hafta change the eggs in a few weeks. Anyway, If one takes the nest. give her a couple nights to get locked on. Then move the nest, hen and all to a small pen for privacy. I use a piece of cardboard to cover the opening in the nest during the move. After she adjusts to the new nest location, swap out the marked eggs for some fresh ones (However many you are sure she can cover. Don`t get greedy). Do all this moving and swapping at night so she doesn`t get stressed. Mark your callendar and don`t bother her except for feed and water. Twenty one days and you will hear or see them. Don`t try to count them until she leaves the nest with them about 2 days after they hatch. Have fun........Pop


9 Years
Aug 25, 2010
Land of the Rain
I have one very broody Buff Orpington. She turned that way before my Iowa Blue rooster was old enough to mate. I also have a "Green Mile" coop where my very inconsistent egg layers end up (and there's a rooster of unknown breed down there too). Well, I ended up with a lot of fertilized eggs down at the Green Mile coop, so I moved them to my broody gal. We've had 7 successful hatchings since August 20th (with 2 hatching yesterday) and she's still setting on the eggs. I've been taking her food and water in the mornings and evenings to keep her weight up. She makes these happy chicken purring sounds when I show up. Not sure how much longer she'll be broody... but it's been several weeks already!


9 Years
Feb 28, 2010
Clinton, OH
We were lucky enough to have two of our Buckeyes go broody this summer, and they both successfully hatched and are raising chicks. In order for them to hatch out their chicks, they really need a separate broody box that the other girls can't get into - this is what we built for ours:

learned a lot about how to handle the broody hens from these two (follow the links on the website for some info - I hope to write a more thorough article on handling broodies soon) - we should have been much better prepared - so you're headed in the right direction by preparing now.

I think hens tend to go broody more in the spring rather than in the fall, so don't be completely disappointed if no one decides to set this year - also, how long have you had your hens and have they ever shown tendencies to set before? Just because you now have a rooster makes no difference to them, if they'd been the broody type they would probably have already set whether there was a rooster around or not.

Here are the other links on the broodies if you're interested:


11 Years
Mar 1, 2010
South Carolina
@ Betterhens - My girls are ~18mos old. None have shown any broody tendencies heretofore. I had figured that it may be more likely to happen in the spring rather than fall (all of nature tends to renew in the spring, so that stands to reason).

That's a neat little broody box setup - I could easily replicate that.
....... should the need arise


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