How To Look After A Broody Hen Who is Incubating

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 01 December 2018

If you’re using a broody hen to incubate some fertile eggs, then they need a little more TLC than normal. Broody hens always put the health of their eggs before their own needs - therefore you need to take egg-stra special care of them to ensure they stay healthy!

Here are some things you can do to ensure your broody hen has a peaceful, comfortable incubation period, and brings healthy chicks into the world!

A broody chicken sitting on eggs on straw

Feed and water them regularly

This seems painfully obvious - but it is really important to ensure that your broody hen is consuming food at least once a day. Broody hens consume 80% less feed than when in their normal state, which means they are at risk of malnutrition.

Keep a private feeder and waterer close to the broody hen so she can access it without straying too far from her eggs. If she doesn’t seem to be eating anything at all, try giving her some treats to spur her appetite - the high calories will help restore the nutrients she is lacking in faster. Also, ensure her water is always fresh and available to her whenever she needs it.

A safe environment for her to sit on the eggs

Broody hens need to have their own space where they can sit on the eggs, out of the way of everyone else. Giving them a private area, such as their own small coop, makes the incubation process much less stressful - there’s no egg laying, feather ruffling or nesting to disrupt the broody hen.

Keep the nest clean

Keeping the nest clean is essential - otherwise the fertile eggs the hen is sitting on may become soiled and go bad. Change the bedding regularly, getting rid of any poop, broken eggs or fowl smelling eggs that may be in the nest.

Try not to interfere

The more a broody hen is interrupted, the more likely she is to quit sitting on her eggs and abandon them throughout the hatch. Definitely not the desired result! Monitor her to ensure that she’s getting enough nutrition, and change the bedding when she’s out- try and keep any other contact to a minimum. We know it’s hard, but sometimes it’s best to cheer for your hen from the sidelines.

Your broody hen really does need your support during this egg-citing time - she’s doing her best to look after the precious cargo, and gearing up to teach them all about life as a chicken.

To give your hen some peace of mind and room to tend to their new arrivals, getting them their own coop is a great way to ensure they’re comfortable. The Cluck House or the Taj Mahal is the perfect size for a new family to make a home in.

Sources and further reading

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