Broody Chickens

What is a broody chicken?

One of the most common behavioral issues in chickens is when they go “broody”.  A broody hen is one that will spend most of its time sitting on eggs with the goal of hatching them.  Unfortunately, most hens are unable to realize whether or not these eggs are fertilized.  If a hen is not exposed to a rooster, it is impossible for her eggs to contain baby chicks and therefore nothing will hatch from these eggs, no matter how hard she tries!

Which chickens go broody?

Broody behavior in hens is more common in certain breeds of chickens.  The two hens in our flock that are constantly broody include Jan, the Cuckoo Maran, and Sweet Josie, the Golden Laced Wyandotte.  Both of these breeds are known for their tendency towards going broody.  When we first started out, we had never heard of broody chickens and had even less knowledge about which breeds were most likely to go broody.  So learn from our mistake and do your research before picking hens for your flock!

What happens when a chicken goes broody?

When a hen is broody, they will sit in the nesting box for DAYS, only leaving the nest to eat, drink, and (sometimes) to poop.  One of our hens (Jan) will sit in the nesting box even if there are no eggs present, while the other hen (Sweet Josie) will sit on eggs that she “steals” from the other hens.  Most broody hens will stop laying eggs once they go broody and unfortunately this can impact the laying behaviors of the other non-broody hens in the flock as well.  A broody hen will become very defensive of their nest and make warning noises as well as puff out their feathers when other hens or humans approach.  They are basically saying ‘get away from me and my nest!’  This defensive behavior discourages other hens from laying in the nesting boxes resulting in hens laying their eggs all over the place.  We have three nesting boxes, but just one broody hen can make all the other hens stay far away from the boxes.  We have found eggs in their feeder, in the coop, and in the chicken run.  It’s like an Easter Egg Hunt year-round.

That pretty much sums up what we have learned about having broody hens.  If you ever hear us talking about a decrease in egg production due to broody hens, you will now understand our plight!  You can also totally blame Jan & Sweet Josie now that you know the culprits 😆 🐓


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