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Broody Hens: A Guide for Chicken Keepers

A hen in a broody phase and protecting her eggs

If you've ever observed a hen exhibiting behaviors that make her seem unusually attached to her nesting box, you might be witnessing the fascinating phenomenon of broodiness. In this blog post, we'll delve into what broodiness is, how to identify it, and strategies for managing and preventing it in your chicken flock.

What is Broodiness?

Broodiness is a natural instinct in hens, characterized by an intense desire to incubate eggs and nurture chicks. During this period, a broody hen undergoes hormonal changes that drive her to sit on a clutch of eggs, whether they are fertile or not. While broodiness is a crucial aspect of chicken reproduction in the wild, it can pose challenges for backyard chicken keepers.

Identifying Broodiness:

      1. Nesting Obsession: A broody hen will spend an extended period on the nest, reluctant to leave, and may even sleep there.

      2. Fluffed Feathers: The broody hen will puff up her feathers, creating a warm and protective environment for the imaginary eggs.

     3. Protective Behavior: When approached, a broody hen may exhibit protective behaviors such as growling, clucking, or pecking.

     4. Refusal to Leave Nest: Even when coaxed away, a broody hen will quickly return to the nest, demonstrating a strong attachment to the eggs.

Managing Broody Hens:

      1. Frequent Egg Collection: Regularly collect eggs to discourage broodiness. Leaving eggs in the nest can trigger a hen's desire to incubate them.

      2. Disturb the Nesting Routine: Gently remove the broody hen from the nest multiple times a day, disrupting her routine and discouraging the incubation behavior.

      3. Isolation: Consider placing the broody hen in a separate cage with good airflow and limited nesting material. This isolation can help break the broody cycle.

      4. Adjust Environmental Conditions: Brightening the coop or altering the temperature can sometimes disrupt a hen's desire to brood.

Preventing Broodiness:

      1. Selective Breeding: Some chicken breeds are more prone to broodiness than others. If consistent broodiness is a concern, consider selecting breeds known for lower broodiness like Rhode Island Reds or Polish.

      2. Comfortable Environment: Ensure your coop provides a comfortable environment with

      3. Regular Disturbance: Make it a habit to check and disturb the nests regularly, preventing hens from settling into a broody routine.

      4. Balanced Nutrition: Ensure your hens receive a well-balanced diet. Nutrient deficiencies can sometimes contribute to broodiness.



While broodiness is a natural and instinctive behavior, effectively managing and preventing it in your flock can contribute to a healthier and more productive group of hens. By understanding the signs and implementing proactive measures, you can strike a balance between your chickens' natural instincts and your goals as a backyard chicken keeper.