Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Question: Broody Hen

I am hoping some of you have some answers for a new chicken raiser!

When we bought our chicks last spring, we chose breeds known for being good mothers in hopes of having some success in raising our own chicks.

This week one of our hens has taken over a nesting box. I've never seen a chicken sit like her. She is completely flattened herself against the nesting box floor. Is this a sign of being broody?

Our hens are quite tame and if one is in the nesting box when I check the eggs, I just lift them up to peer underneath to check for eggs. Usually they take the hint and jump out.

This one is different. She isn't mean and doesn't peck but she also doesn't move. I slide my hand under her, take her eggs and she just sits there and glares at me.

Maybe it is mean to take her eggs. I'm not sure what to do. If she is going to sit on eggs, I'd like to give her enough eggs to make it worth her while that would all begin incubating at the same time.
Should we move her to a new spot where she isn't disturbed by all the other hens and rooster? Or would moving her to an unfamiliar spot, even in the same building, confuse her?

I welcome any advice, personal experiences, or ideas! Thanks!


  1. Gina, I would move her to a quiet area with her own nesting box, water , and food. Leave her on some eggs( if you have a rooster). Mark the calender..then sit back and wait. I think it is 21 days til they hatch? A great book to have...by Carla Embrey, The Country Encycopdeia from memory. Has lots of info! I have a broody hen atm, and no rooster at all! Cheers :) L

  2. Good Morning,
    There is a website called backyardchickens.com, you will find any answer you have. They are a bunch of great people! Good Luck!

  3. She is definitely broody. If she is sitting on eggs and you want her to hatch them out it is best to try to move her somewhere else. It has been my experience that after awhile the other chickens will get in the nest and crack the eggs so we have put them in a seperate room (I have a 2 room coop) and let them hatch out. I've had a hen hatch out guinea eggs and a guinea hatch out chicken eggs. I no longer have guineas so we will see what happens. I've had chickens nearly 10 years and raise meat birds and layers. Love it!

  4. Thanks ladies, for your help! I will check out the resources you mentioned.


  5. I am by no means an expert, last spring was the first year I had broody hens. But this is some of the things I learned. It is 21 days incubation period for chickens. It is wise to move her to a quiet place with food and water otherwise other hens will pop in when she's off and leave their egg with the others and you'll have eggs hatching for weeks. Make sure she gets off her nest at least once a day to eat and drink. I usually scatter a little scratch to encourage the hen to eat. You'll know when she's been off the nest because broody hens only "go" once a day and it's big and smelly and you can't miss it. Don't worry if you see her off the nest for a bit, especially as the hatching date gets closer, as the chicks grow in the eggs they give off heat and the hen knows when she can leave and stretch her legs for a bit. I don't know how big your hen is but a medium size chicken can comfortably sit on 8 - 10 eggs. You can collect eggs over a 6 day period, just don't put them in the fridge. I put them, pointy side down in an egg carton and leave them in room temperature. You need to rotate the eggs at least once or twice a day. I put a good thick book under one side of the carton and change it every morning and night, side to side so the eggs sit at an angle. When you move her to her quiet place, have the eggs already in the nest box for her. I try to bring some of the straw/woodchips from her original broody place to help her accept the new place. Sometimes she'll cluck and walk around for a bit but will settle on the eggs shortly. Hatching rates really vary, I find my hens hatch anywhere from 65% to 80%.I have used both the references Crafty Mama and Candy Duel recommended and I found them to be great. One of the coolest things about this, something that will amaze your children, is that about 24 hours before the chicks hatch, you'll hear them peeping inside the egg and mama hen softly clucks right back at them encouragingly. If you want to read about my experience, just go to the "dual purpose chickens" label on my blog. Good luck, Gina, I know you are going to be a wonderful chicken grandma :)!!!

  6. This is off-topic, but related. A rabbit trail, if you will. I just read in the Family handyman that chicken manure is good for your lawn. And apparently, it is sold by the bag. So - there you are - you are not only providing your family with healthy eggs, you are frugally fertilizing your yard! :)

  7. I recently tried to stop my Black Austrolope Hen from brooding. She has been brooding for over 2 weeks. I tried everything in the book and then I got an idea. I found a piece of garden fencing . . . the green wire stuff with rectangular holes about 3 in x 2 in. I folded the wire into a box about 14" long and 10" wide with sides about 2" high. Then I set it over the nesting area. I figured this way, if she got on the nest and laid an egg that it would go through the wire holes into the nest. That's all it took. She has been off the nest all day just a clucking and a pecking outside the coop! Hope this works for you. I tried everything under the sun including dipping her in cool water but to no avail. This wire contraption has solved my (her) problem. Tim


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