Is My Chicken Broody?

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 29 November 2017

broody hen in chicken coop nesting box

Every once in a while, one of your chickens will get it in into her head to hatch some eggs. ‘But I don’t even have a rooster!’ we hear you say. It doesn’t matter! Chooks aren’t afraid of taking on mission impossible. And while we’re all for following your dreams, the broody dream is a self-destructive one: a broody hen won’t eat or drink properly, and will generally neglect her own health following this futile instinct. Of course, if you do have some fertilised eggs on hand, then a broody hen is an excellent way to incubate them. If that’s the case, you’ll want to be able to identify a broody hen to be their mum! Broodiness is eggs-tremely common in summer, and much more common in certain breeds (Silkies, Cochins, Orpingtons) than in others. It’s especially uncommon in commercial layers like Isa Browns. However, just because it’s summer and you have a Silkie chicken doesn’t mean you have a broody girl - check for the following signs:

  1. Your chicken refuses to move from her nest (usually the nesting box). She’ll get up at most once or twice a day, usually to eat or drink a little. If you take her away from the nesting box, she’ll run straight back.
  2. Your chicken is fluffed up like a giant pom pom. She will likely fluff up even more if touched.
  3. A broody hen is an aggressive hen, so don’t be so quick to touch! Even the most gentle sweethearts might turn into growling mummas when broody. Yes, growling - expect to hear a low, threatening rumble if you try to take those eggs away.
  4. Plucking out her own chest feathers. She’s doing everything she can to provide maximum warmth to her clutch of eggs.
  5. Finally, a broody girl won’t lay eggs - she’s putting all her energy into keeping her body temperature cranked high, and doesn’t have any to spare for creating more bum nuts.

If you have a broody girl, and you want to know how to fix her, click here. Or, if you want to help your broody girl hatch some chicks, check out this article instead.

Sources and further reading