How To Handling A Broody Hen

Portrait of a Broody Hen

Broody hens are a common occurrence in backyard poultry keeping. The broodiness instinct is when a hen becomes determined to hatch eggs and raise chicks. While this may seem like a natural way to increase the flock, it can be challenging for owners who do not want to expand their flock or have no rooster to fertilize the eggs. As such, it is essential for poultry keepers to know how to handle broody hens properly.

In this article, we will discuss the various ways of handling broody hens, from preventing broodiness to managing them during the broody period. We will cover topics such as identifying signs of broodiness, methods of breaking broodiness, and providing suitable conditions for hatching and raising chicks. By understanding how to manage broody hens correctly, poultry owners can ensure that their birds remain healthy and happy while maintaining control over their flock’s size and productivity.

Understanding Broodiness In Hens

Have you ever witnessed a broody hen? This behavior is common among hens, especially during the spring and summer months. Broodiness is defined as the natural nesting instinct of hens to sit on their eggs for a prolonged period. It can last up to 21 days, which is the time it takes for eggs to hatch.

When a hen becomes broody, she will cease laying eggs and instead become fixated on incubating her eggs. She will spend most of her time in the nest box, sitting on top of her clutch of eggs. During this period, her behavior changes significantly; she may become more aggressive towards other birds and protective of her nest.

Broodiness is a critical component in poultry reproduction. A hen’s instinctual desire to sit on her eggs ensures that they are kept warm and protected until they hatch. While it can be frustrating for egg production farmers who rely on consistent egg-laying hens, it is essential to understand that broodiness plays an important role in maintaining healthy flocks. Understanding the behavior of broody hens can help farmers manage their flocks more efficiently and ensure that their chickens remain happy and healthy.

Moving forward, there are several signs of broodiness to look out for when managing your flock. Paying attention to these signs can help you identify when your hens are becoming broody so that you can take appropriate measures to manage them and their environment effectively.

Signs Of Broodiness To Look Out For

Broodiness is a natural behavior that hens exhibit when they have the urge to incubate eggs and raise chicks. A broody hen will sit on her nest for most of the day, and she may become aggressive or territorial towards other flock members. She may also puff up her feathers, cluck loudly, and refuse to leave her nesting area. These are all signs of broodiness that poultry owners should watch out for.

Broodiness can be triggered by several factors, including genetics, age, season, and environmental conditions. Some breeds are more prone to broodiness than others, such as Silkies and Cochins. Hens that are reaching their reproductive peak (around 1-2 years old) are also more likely to go broody. Broodiness tends to occur more frequently during the spring and summer months when days are longer and temperatures are warmer. Additionally, factors such as darkness, humidity levels, and availability of nesting space can contribute to a hen’s broodiness.

It is important for poultry owners to be able to recognize when their hens are exhibiting broody behaviors so they can take appropriate action if needed. If a hen is allowed to remain broody for too long without any eggs or chicks in sight, it can lead to health problems such as weight loss and feather damage. In the next section, we will discuss some prevention methods for broodiness that poultry owners can try in order to avoid these issues altogether.

Transition: Now that we’re familiar with the signs of broodiness and what triggers it in hens, let’s explore some practical steps you can take if you want to prevent your birds from going broody too often or too soon.

Prevention Methods For Broodiness

It is a common knowledge among poultry specialists that broodiness in hens can be quite frustrating, especially for those who are into commercial egg production. Fortunately, prevention methods for broodiness do exist. In order to prevent broodiness, it is important to consider two factors: genetics and environmental factors.

Genetics play an important role in the occurrence of broodiness in hens. Some breeds are more prone to being broody than others. For example, the Silkie breed is known for its tendency to go broody more often than other breeds. Therefore, it is important to select breeds that are less likely to be affected by this condition. Additionally, some chicken farmers will only breed hens that have not exhibited any signs of broodiness.

Environmental factors are also crucial in preventing broodiness in hens. The diet and lighting provided should be considered when trying to prevent this condition from occurring. Hens should be fed a well-balanced diet that includes adequate amounts of protein and other essential nutrients. Adequate lighting is also essential for preventing broodiness as it helps regulate hormone levels in hens.

In summary, preventing broodiness requires careful consideration of genetics and environmental factors such as diet and lighting. By selecting breeds that are less prone to being broody and providing optimal conditions for your flock, you can help prevent this frustrating condition from occurring in your hens. In the next section, we will discuss how to break broodiness in hens should preventive measures fail.

Breaking Broodiness In Hens

Breaking Broodiness in Hens:

Broodiness is a natural instinct in hens that prepares them for the process of incubating eggs and raising chicks. However, this process can be problematic when it affects the productivity and health of the flock. Fortunately, there are several methods to break broodiness in hens.

Natural methods involve disrupting the hen’s environment and routine. This can include removing nesting materials or changing their location, altering feeding schedules, and increasing light exposure. These changes will make the hen feel less comfortable and discourage her from sitting on eggs for extended periods.

Medicinal methods involve administering hormones that reduce broodiness. However, these treatments should only be used as a last resort due to potential side effects on the hen’s health and egg-laying ability. Additionally, some countries prohibit the use of these hormones in poultry production.

In conclusion, breaking broodiness in hens is essential to maintain flock productivity and ensure good health. Natural methods should always be tried first before considering medicinal methods as a last resort. With proper management techniques, broody hens can return to normal egg-laying behavior within a few days or weeks. The subsequent section will discuss how to create a suitable broody box for isolated hens.

Creating A Suitable Broody Box

As a poultry specialist, it is essential to provide your broody hen with a comfortable and suitable broody box. This box should mimic the natural environment of a nest where the hen would feel safe and secure. A DIY broody box can be made by using materials like cardboard boxes or plastic containers. The size of the box should be large enough for the hen to move around comfortably and small enough to ensure that she cannot lay eggs or leave the nest.

Broody behavior modification is crucial when handling broody hens. To reduce the chances of aggression towards other chickens or humans, it is recommended to separate them from the flock and keep them in their own space. This will also prevent other hens from laying eggs in their nest, which can cause stress and further prolong their broodiness. Providing adequate darkness in their broody box will also help synchronize their natural circadian rhythm, improving their overall health.

A suitable nesting area should provide more than just comfort for your broody hen; it should also ensure that they receive adequate food and water. Placing food and water near the nesting area is recommended so that they do not have to leave their nests frequently, reducing stress levels. It is important to ensure that fresh water is available at all times as dehydration can lead to severe health problems. In addition, providing high-quality feed with balanced nutrition will support your hen’s health during this critical time.

With an appropriate DIY broody box setup and proper behavior modification techniques, you can successfully manage your broody hen’s needs. However, providing adequate food and water remains crucial in ensuring overall health during this period of time.

Providing Adequate Food And Water For Broody Hens

After creating a suitable broody box, it is important to provide adequate nutrition and water for the hen. Broody hens have specific nutritional needs during this time, as they are not actively laying eggs and are instead focusing their energy on incubating their clutch. A diet high in protein and calcium is essential for maintaining the hen’s health and ensuring healthy chick development.

Broody hen nutrition should consist of a balanced feed that contains at least 16% protein. A diet high in protein will help the hen maintain her weight and muscle mass during this period of reduced activity. Additionally, providing calcium-rich foods such as oyster shells or ground eggshells can help prevent calcium deficiencies which could lead to weak or soft-shelled eggs.

Water requirements for broody hens are also crucial to their overall wellbeing. Hens need access to fresh, clean water at all times, but especially during the broody period when they may not leave the nest for extended periods of time. It is important to ensure that the water source is easily accessible from the nest box, so the hen can drink without having to leave her eggs unattended.

Properly managing the broody period is essential to ensuring successful hatching and healthy chicks. This includes providing a suitable brooding environment, adequate nutrition and water, and monitoring the hen’s behaviour for any signs of distress or illness. With proper care and attention, your broody hen will be able to successfully hatch her clutch of eggs and raise healthy chicks into adulthood.

Managing The Broody Period

Once a hen becomes broody, it is important to manage her effectively during the incubation period. This involves providing a comfortable and secure nesting area for the hen to sit on her eggs. It is also essential to collect any additional eggs daily, as well as removing any broken or dirty eggs from the nest. These steps help ensure that the broody hen has an optimal environment for successful hatching.

Incubation tips include maintaining consistent temperature and humidity levels within the nesting area. Additionally, it is important to avoid disturbing the broody hen as much as possible during this time. Interfering with her natural instincts may cause unnecessary stress and could lead to abandoned or damaged eggs. By allowing the hen to do what comes naturally, you increase your chances of successfully hatching healthy chicks.

Egg collection tricks involve being mindful of how often you collect eggs from your flock during broodiness. It is best to collect them once a day at the same time each day, so that you can minimize disruption in the nesting area. Additionally, storing collected eggs properly is crucial for optimal hatch rates. Make sure they are stored in a cool and dry location with good air circulation until they are ready for incubation.

Moving forward with egg collection and storage during broodiness, it’s important to maintain consistency in order to ensure success in hatching healthy chicks. By following these steps and being mindful of your broody hen’s needs, you can increase your chances of producing strong and hardy chicks that will thrive under your care.

Egg Collection And Storage During Broodiness

During the broodiness period of a hen, it is essential to collect the eggs promptly and store them properly to ensure their quality is maintained. It is recommended that eggs be collected twice daily from a broody hen to prevent them from becoming damaged, dirty, or broken. Once the eggs are collected, they should be stored pointy-end down in egg cartons or trays in a cool and dry place.

Storing eggs during broodiness can present some challenges as the ideal temperature for storing eggs is different from that required for incubating them. When storing eggs, it is crucial to maintain a consistent temperature between 50-68°F and humidity levels between 70-80% RH. To achieve this, it’s best to use an egg storage unit or refrigerator with a temperature control feature. Storing eggs under these conditions will help preserve their quality and freshness until they are ready for incubation.

Properly stored eggs can remain viable for up to 10 days before incubation begins. Therefore, it’s important to select only fresh and fertile eggs for hatching purposes. Eggs with cracks or those that have been stored longer than ten days should not be used for incubation as they may result in lower hatch rates or lead to unhealthy chicks. It’s advisable to mark each egg with its collection date using a non-toxic marker pen on its shell surface so that you can keep track of which ones are suitable for hatching purposes.

Selecting Eggs For Hatching

After collecting and storing the broody hen’s eggs, the next step is to decide whether to use natural or artificial incubation methods. Choosing between the two methods depends on various factors such as the availability of an incubator, space, and time. If you plan on using natural incubation, it is crucial to ensure that the broody hen has a safe and warm place to sit on her eggs.

If you opt for artificial incubation, selecting the right incubator is essential. Factors to consider include size, temperature control, and humidity levels. It is also important to have an accurate thermometer and hygrometer to monitor these conditions closely throughout the hatching process. Additionally, selecting high-quality eggs is vital for a successful hatch.

Whether using natural or artificial incubation methods, there are several key steps involved in hatching eggs. These include setting up the incubator correctly with appropriate temperature and humidity levels, ensuring that eggs are appropriately positioned in the egg trays or under the broody hen, regularly monitoring temperatures and humidity levels throughout the process, and carefully handling newly hatched chicks. By following these steps carefully and selecting suitable eggs for hatching based on genetics and other factors, poultry farmers can successfully hatch healthy chicks for their flocks.

Incubation And Hatching Of Eggs

As the saying goes, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” However, if you want to maximize your hatch rates, it’s important to consider the incubation and hatching process. First and foremost, choosing the right broody hen breeds is crucial. Some breeds are more likely to go broody than others, while some may not even have the instinct at all.

Once you have a broody hen, it’s important to provide her with a comfortable and secure nesting area. This means ensuring that she has enough space to move around and access to food and water without leaving her eggs unattended for too long. It’s also important to regularly check on the eggs during incubation to make sure they are healthy and developing properly.

When it comes time for hatching, it’s important not to interfere too much. The chicks need time to dry off and rest after hatching, so avoid handling them too much. It’s also important to keep them warm and under a heat lamp until they are strong enough to regulate their own body temperature. With proper care during these early stages of life, you can help ensure that your chicks grow up healthy and strong.

Transition: Now that we’ve covered incubation and hatching, let’s move on to caring for chicks during their early life.

Caring For Chicks During Early Life

After successfully incubating and hatching eggs, the next step is to care for the newly hatched chicks. Raising temperature is crucial during the first few weeks of a chick’s life. The brooder temperature should be set at 95°F for the first week and then reduced by 5°F each week until it reaches room temperature. It is important to monitor the temperature regularly to ensure that it is not too hot or cold for the chicks.

Feeding schedule also plays an important role in raising healthy chicks. Chicks require a high-protein diet, and their feed should have at least 18% protein content. During the first few days, chicks should be fed every two hours, gradually increasing the time between feedings as they grow older. Clean water should always be available, and it should be changed frequently to prevent contamination.

Socializing chicks with the flock is an essential part of raising them to become healthy adult birds. Introducing them to other chickens at an early age helps them learn social skills and establish their place in the pecking order. However, this should be done gradually and under supervision to prevent bullying or injury. By following these guidelines, poultry farmers can ensure that their chicks grow up healthy and strong.

Socializing Chicks With The Flock

Did you know that introducing chicks to the flock is an essential step in poultry farming? According to a recent study, socializing chicks with the flock can significantly reduce aggressive behavior between chickens. This process involves slowly introducing young chicks to adult hens, allowing them to become familiar with one another’s scent and sounds gradually. As a result, they are more likely to accept each other and coexist peacefully.

Broody behavior is common among hens and can be challenging for poultry farmers. However, it is vital to understand that this behavior is natural and necessary for egg production. Broody hens will sit on their eggs for weeks until they hatch, refusing to leave the nest or eat properly. In some cases, they may even attack other members of the flock who come near their nest. Therefore, it is crucial to handle broody hens carefully and return them to the flock once they have completed their brooding cycle.

When returning broody hens to the flock after being isolated for several weeks, it is essential not just to throw them back into the group abruptly. Instead, introduce them slowly by placing them in a separate area where they can see but not touch the rest of the flock for a few days. Then, allow them supervised visits with other chickens before finally letting them back into the coop completely. This method ensures that both parties have time to become accustomed to each other again without any harm or aggression occurring.

Returning Broody Hens To The Flock

Socializing chicks with the flock is an essential step in ensuring that they grow up healthy and happy. However, there are some things that you need to keep in mind when introducing new chicks to an existing flock. Firstly, it’s important to quarantine the new birds for a few days to ensure they are healthy and free from disease. Secondly, you should introduce them gradually, starting with short supervised visits before allowing them to mix freely.

Returning broody hens to the flock can be a tricky process. Broody hens can become aggressive towards other chickens if they feel their nest is being threatened or disturbed. It’s best to wait until the hen has stopped being broody before returning her to the flock. Once she has returned, keep an eye on her behavior towards the other chickens, especially if you have introduced new chicks recently.

Dealing with persistent broodiness can be challenging. Some hens will continue to go broody even after their eggs have hatched or been removed. This can be due to hormonal imbalances or simply because of their breed tendencies. In these cases, it’s best to remove the hen from the flock for a period of time until she stops being broody. You can also try providing distractions such as extra nesting boxes or changing up their environment to reduce stress levels and discourage broodiness.

  • Markdown list:
  1. Frustration when dealing with aggressive broody hens.
  2. Anxiety about introducing new chicks to an existing flock.
  3. Concerns about the health and safety of your chickens.
  4. The feeling of accomplishment when successfully integrating new birds into your flock while managing broody hens’ behavior.

Transition: While dealing with persistent broodiness can be challenging, it’s essential for ensuring a healthy and happy flock overall. Let’s dive into some practical steps for handling this issue in the next section.

Dealing With Persistent Broodiness

Broody hen behaviors are a common occurrence in poultry farming. Broodiness is a hormonal change that occurs when a hen decides to sit on her eggs for an extended period. This can lead to decreased egg production, and if not handled correctly, it may also result in the death of both the hen and the chicks. The best way to handle broody hens is by providing them with enough space, food, and water.

Broody hens and egg laying patterns are closely related. When a hen becomes broody, she stops laying eggs and focuses entirely on sitting on her eggs. This behavior can last for up to 21 days or longer until the eggs hatch. To prevent this from happening, farmers can use various techniques such as removing any fertilized eggs or replacing them with dummy eggs to discourage the behavior.

To further understand how to handle broody hens effectively, we have created the following table on how broodiness affects egg production:

Broody Hen BehaviorEgg Production
Sitting on EggsDecreases
Not Eating or DrinkingDecreases
Increased Body TemperatureDecreases

By understanding these effects of broodiness on egg production, farmers can take proper steps to ensure their hens remain healthy while still producing high-quality eggs. Providing a suitable nesting box for non-brooding hens and separating them from broody ones is one way of managing this situation.

In summary, handling persistent broodiness requires an understanding of behavioral changes in hens caused by hormonal shifts during the breeding process. Farmers need to ensure they provide adequate space, food, and water while discouraging prolonged sitting on eggs through various techniques such as removing fertilized eggs or using dummy ones. By doing so, farmers can maintain optimal egg production levels while ensuring their flock remains healthy and well-cared-for. With these tips in mind, we can now move on to our final thoughts on handling broody hens.

Final Thoughts On Handling Broody Hens

Dealing with persistent broodiness can be a challenging experience for poultry keepers. However, it is important to note that broody hens have their benefits. Broody hens are known to be excellent mothers and are highly protective of their chicks, making them an essential part of any poultry operation. They also aid in the preservation of heritage breeds by ensuring the continuity of bloodlines.

Despite the advantages of having a broody hen, there are potential drawbacks that come with it. One major downside is the halt in egg production during this period. A broody hen will stop laying eggs until she has successfully hatched and raised her chicks. This can negatively impact commercial egg production operations as well as small-scale backyard poultry keeping. Additionally, some broody hens can become aggressive towards humans or other animals that come close to their nesting area.

Handling broody hens requires careful consideration and patience. It is important to allow the hen to complete her natural cycle while ensuring her safety and health. A common technique used by many poultry keepers is providing a separate nesting box for the broody hen away from the rest of the flock. This ensures that she is not disturbed or harmed by other birds while incubating her eggs. As soon as the chicks hatch, it is crucial to provide them with ample food and water to ensure their survival.

Overall, dealing with broody hens can be a challenging but rewarding experience for any poultry keeper. While they may pose potential drawbacks such as halted egg production or aggression, they bring numerous benefits such as excellent mothering skills and breed preservation efforts. By handling them with care and patience, one can enjoy all these benefits while ensuring their safety and health throughout the entire process.


Broodiness is a common behavior in hens that can be both beneficial and problematic for poultry owners. Understanding the signs of broodiness, prevention methods, and effective ways to break broodiness will help maintain a healthy flock. Creating a suitable broody box and socializing chicks with the flock are important steps in rearing healthy birds. Returning broody hens to the flock should be done with care and attention to maintain their well-being.

Persistent broodiness can be challenging, but it is important to keep in mind that hens are living creatures with natural instincts. With patience and persistence, persistent broodiness can be managed effectively. As a poultry specialist or husbandry expert, it is our responsibility to treat these animals with respect and care.

In conclusion, handling broody hens requires knowledge of their behavior and biology. By understanding their needs and taking appropriate measures for prevention and management, we can raise healthy flocks while respecting the natural instincts of these remarkable creatures. Let us continue to work towards sustainable practices in poultry keeping that prioritize animal welfare above all else.

Image Credits

Avatar of Itamar ben dor

Author: Itamar ben dor

My name is Itamar Ben Dor, and I am passionate about environmental sustainability and the power of plants to improve our lives. As the founder of Green Life, I have assembled a team of experts in the fields of horticulture, design, and sustainability to help us bring you the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *