Our 19 chickens have been laying eggs for a number of weeks now, but I’ve just noticed something odd with one of our girls. Savannah Lucille, one of our Kraienkoppes, seems to be broody. The term “broody” initially was a little hard to grasp for me, for some reason — I wasn’t sure if it was a good or a bad thing. Turns out, it sort of depends.
Savannah has taken to sitting in a nesting box for hours, even after she lays her egg. She won’t get up, won’t move, squawks at the other hens that dare to come close, puffing up her feathers and making herself look fierce (and not in a good way). Welcome to Broody Hen 101. Broodiness is defined by a hen sitting on her egg, or even in an empty nesting box, for prolonged periods of time, sometimes even forgoing food and drink, and behaving aggressively if another hen or human gets close.
We don’t have a rooster. We don’t want a rooster. We don’t want to breed chickens (at least not now). And we only have so many nesting boxes for our girls. We don’t want her to be broody. Is it because broody = bad? Not necessarily. If you are breeding chickens, broody hens often make good mothers. They are attentive to the egg and committed to keeping it warm. But it can be taken too far, as in with Savannah Lucille, who has no hope of that egg hatching. So here’s what to know if you have a broody hen like ours:
- Let her sit for a little bit once she’s laid her egg, or even if she isn’t laying an egg. Be observant of how long she has been in the box.
- If you notice she’s been in there for a number of hours, is not eating/drinking, or is being aggressive to the other hens, carefully pick her up and move her down to her food.
- She may go back up to the box after awhile, but as long as she’s eating and drinking normally, she should be okay. Be observant to signs of losing weight, though.
- Some breeds, like our Kraienkoppes, can tend to be more broody — like Cochins, Buff Orpingtons, Light Brahmas, Dark Cornish, Buff Rocks, Turkens, Buff Brahmas, Cuckoo Marans and Silkies.
- If your hen is broody, be on the lookout for any pest problem like mites. Broody girls don’t get down in the dirt to roll around like their friends do, making mites more of a risk.
Some people really like broody hens — I think it’s kind of cute when they are so protective and into what they’re doing, but ultimately, I don’t want any of our girls sitting in a box for most of the day. I go out several times a day to make sure Savannah is out of that nesting box. It doesn’t seem to bother any of the other hens, but it concerns me a little bit, so I’m keeping at eye out for any problems.
Besides, I’m 50 and menopausal. I’m the only one who gets to be broody and moody around here!