Mother Hen Knows Best: A Comprehensive Guide to Caring for Broody Hens

What are Broody Hens? Good question. Well, broody hens are chickens that have the instinct to incubate their eggs. This means that they want to sit on their eggs for weeks, keeping them warm until they hatch.

When a hen is broody, she will stop laying eggs and spend most of her time sitting on the nest. Brooding can last anywhere from 21 to 28 days, depending on the breed of chicken.

During this time, she will rarely leave the nest, and even when she does it’s only for a short period of time. It’s important to understand that not all hens will go broody.

Some breeds are more prone to broodiness than others, and it also depends on individual temperament and living conditions. Certain times of the year may also increase a hen’s likelihood of going broody due to changes in daylight hours or temperature.

When a hen goes broody, it can be both a blessing and a curse for chicken owners. On one hand, if you are interested in hatching your own chicks then having a broody hen is extremely helpful!

But if you’re not prepared for it or don’t have space for more chickens, then dealing with a brooding hen can become problematic.

Why are Broody hens an issue?

Brooding chickens, while adorable and endearing, can actually pose issues for poultry owners.

The primary concerns when it comes to brooding chickens is the disruption it can cause to egg production. During the brooding phase, hens are so focused on nurturing their chicks rather than laying eggs.

The brooding hen may refuse to move from the nest even to eat or drink water

This temporary shift in priorities can lead to a decrease in egg production, leaving poultry owners with fewer fresh eggs. It’s important for chicken keepers to consider this potential dip in productivity when deciding to allow brooding within their flock.

Broody hens may become more territorial and protective of their chicks, leading to potential conflicts with other members of the flock.

Poultry owners need to carefully monitor flock dynamics during the brooding period and be prepared to intervene if necessary.

How to Identify a Broody Hen

Identifying a broody hen may seem tricky, but there are some tell-tale signs to look out for. The most obvious sign is when a hen refuses to leave the nesting box and sits on her eggs all day.

A brooding hen may also pluck feathers from her chest to create a bare spot known as the “brood patch,” and use the feathers to help keep the eggs warm. Some hens even become aggressive and will peck or attack anyone who tries to remove them from their nest.

If you suspect that your hen is broody, you can conduct a quick test by removing her from the nesting box and placing her in another location away from her eggs. If she immediately returns to the nest, then she is likely broody.

Another way to check is by gently lifting her off of the nest and looking at her vent area. A broody hen’s vent will be flatter than usual, indicating that she has been sitting on her eggs for an extended period.

If you move the hen and she returns to the nest the you can pronounce her: Broody.

Pros and Cons of Broody Hens

The Pros of Broody Hens

Broody hens are a special type of chicken that is known for their dedication to hatching eggs.

While some chicken owners find broodiness to be a nuisance, there are actually many advantages to having broody hens in your flock.

  • broody hens can help increase the size of your flock without having to purchase any new chicks.

When a hen goes broody, she will stop laying eggs and focus all of her energy on keeping her eggs warm and protected until they hatch. This means that you can potentially have more baby chicks without having to worry about buying new ones or relying on an incubator.

  • broody hens tend to be fiercely protective of their eggs, they can provide extra protection for the chicks once they hatch.
  • Another advantage of broody hens is that they can help strengthen the bonds within your flock.

When a hen is brooding, she will spend most of her time sitting on her eggs in the nesting box. This means that she will be spending less time out and about with the rest of the flock.

However, when it comes time for her chicks to hatch, she will reintegrate into the flock and introduce her babies to everyone else. This can help establish stronger social bonds between all members of your flock.

  • Broody hens can also be great educators for young chicks.

Because they have experience raising their own babies, broody hens know exactly what their chicks need in terms of food, water, and warmth.

They can help teach younger birds how to eat and drink properly and keep them safe from predators or other dangers around the coop. While it may seem like a hassle at first when one or more chickens go broody in your coop if managed correctly there are many benefits that come with having these types of chickens around!

The Cons of Broody Hens

But broody hens can sometimes become more trouble than they’re worth.

While they may seem endearing at first, especially to those who are new to chicken-keeping, there are several downsides to having broody hens in your flock. Let’s take a closer look at some of the cons of broody hens.

  • Broody hens will often stop laying eggs while they are brooding. This can be frustrating for those who rely on their chickens for a steady supply of fresh eggs.

Additionally, since brooding takes up so much of a hen’s energy and attention, it may result in her being less active and more prone to illness or injury. Another downside is that if you have multiple hens and only one goes broody, it can upset the social order of your flock.

  • Other hens may become agitated or even aggressive towards the brooding hen if she refuses to leave the nesting box for extended periods of time, which could lead to fights and injuries.

While these cons can seem daunting, there are ways to manage or mitigate them as we’ll discuss later in this article. It’s important to remember that not all chickens will go broody every year – some breeds may go their entire lives without ever becoming truly “broody” – so it’s not necessarily something that you’ll have to deal with constantly if you’re keeping chickens for egg production rather than breeding purposes.

How to Care for a Broody Hen

When you have a broody hen in your flock, it is important to take care of her properly to ensure her health and well-being.

A brooding hen can become obsessive about sitting on her eggs, neglecting food and water, and becoming more vulnerable to predators. As the caretaker of your hens, it is your responsibility to care for the brooding hen appropriately.

Firstly, provide enough food and water for both the broody hen and other hens in the coop. It is essential that she has easy access to clean drinking water as well as nutritious feed.

Since a brooding hen needs more protein than usual during this time, add more protein-rich food such as mealworms or boiled egg yolks to their diet.

Secondly, ensure that the brooding hen has a comfortable nesting area with sufficient privacy.

A quiet place in the coop or separate nest box can be provided with extra bedding material such as straw or wood shavings. You can use a piece of cardboard or cloth to partially cover the nesting area so that light won’t disturb her while she’s sitting on her eggs.

Monitor your brooding hen regularly for any signs of illness or injury. Since she will be spending most of her time sitting on her eggs, it is essential that you keep an eye out for any issues such as mites/lice infestation or injuries caused by other hens in the flock.

Understanding the Risks of a Hen Staying Broody

One risk to a brooding hen is a development of an infection from sitting on eggs for extended periods, which can cause serious health problems.

Another risk of keeping a broody hen is that it can cause strain among the other hens in the flock. As the broody hen sits on her eggs, she becomes territorial and aggressive, often pecking at any chicken who gets too close to her nesting area.

Will All of My Hens Go Broody?

The simple answer is no.

Brooding can vary from hen to hen and from breed to breed.

This behavior can cause stress among other chickens in the flock and disrupt their normal routines.

But if you keep your broody hen separated from the rest of your flock for an extended period while she’s trying to hatch her eggs, it may affect socialization once she rejoins them later.

Separation could also lead to lower egg production as chickens tend to lay fewer eggs when they are stressed or disturbed.

It’s worth noting that once a hen goes into a brooding phase, she may stay in that state for several weeks or even months if left unchecked – which can cause health issues down the line.

The 4 Most Broody Chicken Breeds

Some chicken breeds are more prone to broodiness than others.

In general, the larger and heavier breeds of chickens are more likely to go broody than smaller, lighter breeds.


Cochins are a breed of chicken that have a reputation for being one of the most broody breeds. They are also known for their distinctive appearance with their feathered feet and large size.

They come in several colors including buff, white, partridge, and black. Because of their tendency to go broody, Cochins can be excellent mothers if you want to hatch some chicks naturally.

However, if you don’t want them to go broody, it’s important to understand how to break a broody chicken so that your Cochin hen doesn’t spend months sitting on unfertilized eggs. One method of breaking a broody Cochin is to place her in a wire-bottomed cage or coop with no bedding or nesting material.

This will prevent her from being able to sit comfortably and should discourage her from continuing to go broody. Another method is to place ice packs under her while she’s sitting on the nest.

This will cool down her body temperature and make it less comfortable for her to continue sitting on the eggs. It’s important not to let your Cochin hen stay off her eggs for too long if she does go broody.

Eggs need constant warmth and humidity in order to hatch successfully, so if your hen stays off her eggs for too long they may die.

However, it’s also important not to let your hen stay broody indefinitely since this can cause health problems like weight loss and dehydration.


Silkies are a popular breed of chicken that is known for their unique appearance and docile temperament. These fluffy birds have a reputation for being broody, which makes them a favorite among backyard chicken keepers who want to hatch their own eggs.

These birds have a strong maternal instinct to sit on and hatch eggs. Broodiness in silkies can be both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, it makes them excellent mothers who will sit on eggs until they hatch and fiercely protect their chicks once they’re born. On the other hand, it can make it difficult to collect eggs for eating or hatching in an incubator.

Silkies are great chickens for those interested in hatching their own chicks but require extra attention when managing their broodiness.

With proper care and management techniques like providing distractions and moving them off their nests periodically, silkies can make great additions to any backyard flock.

Buff Orpingtons

are a popular breed of chicken that is known for being friendly and gentle. They are great for beginners because they are easy to care for and tend to be less flighty than other breeds.

However, one downside of Buff Orpingtons is that they tend to be prone to broodiness.

While Buff Orpingtons make great additions to any flock due to their docile nature, it’s important to know how to deal with broodiness if it arises.

Buff Rocks

Buffs are a relatively new breed of chicken, developed in the early 20th century by breeding Barred Plymouth Rocks and Buff Orpingtons. They are a friendly, docile bird that is great for both meat and egg production, with hens laying around 200-280 eggs per year. Buff Rocks are also known for being prone to broodiness.


Ah, The Brahmas. They are a beautiful breed of chicken that originated in the United States. They are known for their large size and gentle nature, which makes them an excellent choice for a family flock. are also known to be one of the most broody chicken breeds, which means they have a natural tendency to sit on eggs and incubate them until they hatch.

When do these hens go broody? For Brahmas, it is not uncommon for them to go broody during the spring and summer months when the weather is warmer.

Brahmas are one of the most beautiful and gentle breeds of chicken but can be challenging if you’re not prepared for their intense desire to become mothers.

Understanding their natural behavior when it comes to being broody will help you take better care of your flock while ensuring new baby chicks arrive safely into this world.


Sussex chickens are among the most popular breeds of backyard chickens. These birds are a heritage breed that has been around for over a century. They have a beautiful, striking appearance with their orange-brown feathers, white underbelly, and black speckles.

These hens are also known for their friendly disposition and gentle temperament. While Sussex chickens are not the most broody breed, they can still go broody several times a year.

The Least Broody Chicken Breeds


Leghorns are prolific layers and known for their high egg production rates. They are lively and active birds that prefer to spend their time outside of the coop.

Due to this nature, they do not tend to develop broodiness as frequently as other breeds.

Rhode Island Red

Another breed that doesn’t often show signs of broody behavior is Rhode Island Red or RIR.

They are excellent layers, and some strains of RIR have been bred specifically for higher egg production. These chickens are highly active and prefer to roam around rather than sitting in a nest all day.

What to know more about RIR? Check out this article: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Happy and Healthy Rhode Island Reds: From Coop to Cuisine and Chicken Yoga


Third on our list is the Easter Egger or Ameraucana breed. These chooks lay gorgeous pastel-colored eggs and can be quite independent in nature; they don’t like being held very much.

As with our previous two breeds, their naturally active lifestyle means they’re less inclined towards broodiness. While these breeds tend not to go broody as often as others, it’s important to remember that every hen has her natural instincts and may still become broody at some point in her life.

If you do end up with a stubbornly broody hen from one of these typically non-broody breeds, don’t worry! There are several proven methods available to break the cycle and get her back into laying mode again.

While some chicken breeds are more prone to showing signs of being “broody,” there are still many options available if you want a flock that’s less inclined towards this behavior.

By choosing one of these least-broody chicken breeds, you might save yourself some trouble down the line – but keep in mind that the occasional broody hen is a natural and normal occurrence in any flock.

4 Proven Techniques to End Broodiness in Hens

It’s important to know how to stop a broody hen, especially if you’re not interested in hatching chicks. While a broody hen will naturally stop being broody after 3-4 weeks, sometimes you need to intervene and speed up the process.

Here are five humane ways that work:

Method #1: Remove your broody hen from the nest. And then do it again. And Again. And Again.

One way of breaking a broody hen is by removing her from the nest several times a day.

The sudden change in temperature and routine will often snap her out of her broodiness. However, it’s important to remember that breaking a broody hen can be stressful for both you and your chicken.

Method #2: Distraction! If you want to avoid stressing out your chicken, try giving her something else to focus on instead of sitting on eggs all day.

You can give her fresh herbs, greens or even new toys (yes, chickens love toys!) You might have to experiment with different distractions until you find something that works for your bird.

Method #3: Give your broody hen a cold water bath.

Another way is by giving her a gentle cold water bath. This sounds harsh but it’s actually very effective in breaking the cycle of sitting on eggs all day .

Fill up a shallow basin with cold water and gently place your chicken inside it for around 10 minutes while keeping an eye on them so they don’t stress too much.

Method #4: Lock them out!

Simply removing the chicken from the coop and letting them roam around in your yard may be the best thing you can do for your brooding hen. Yes, she may not like it. Yes, she might stress a bit. But after a few hours of this she will likely break the brooding.

Breaking a broody hen is essential because if left unattended she could go without eating or drinking, putting herself at risk of serious health issues such as dehydration and starvation.

Remember that these methods should be used with caution and should only be implemented when necessary.

It’s also important to note that not all chickens will respond well to every method so it might take some trial-and-error before finding what works for you and your flock!

Taking care of a broody hen is an important aspect of raising chickens. Understanding the meaning of a broody hen and identifying the signs of broodiness are key to managing a healthy flock.

Brooding is a natural behavior for hens, and some breeds are more prone to it than others. It’s important to be aware of the pros and cons of broody hens before deciding whether or not to allow them in your coop.

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