The Broody Hen: Understanding and Managing this Natural Chicken Behavior

If you’ve ever kept chickens, you may have experienced a broody hen. Broodiness is a natural behavior in chickens, but it can also be frustrating for backyard chicken keepers. In this article, we’ll explore what broodiness is, why it happens, and how to manage it.

You may also want to read about the best laying mash for chickens.

What is a Broody Hen?

A broody hen is a chicken that is attempting to hatch eggs. She will sit on her nestbox for long periods of time, often refusing to leave the nest to eat or drink. A broody hen may also become aggressive and protective of her nest, which can be problematic if you’re trying to collect eggs.

Why Do Hens Become Broody?

Broodiness is a natural behavior in chickens that is triggered by a combination of hormonal and environmental factors. When a hen’s body produces high levels of the hormone prolactin, she may become broody. Additionally, hens are more likely to become broody when they have access to a secluded, quiet nest box that feels safe and secure.

How to Manage Broody Hens

Broody hens can be difficult to manage, especially if you’re trying to collect eggs for consumption. Here are a few tips for managing broody hens:

broody hen
  1. Remove Eggs from the Nest

The first step in managing a broody hen is to remove any eggs from her nest. This will help to discourage her from continuing to sit on the nest. If you’re trying to hatch eggs, you can replace them with fertile eggs to allow the hen to incubate them.

  1. Encourage the Hen to Leave the Nest

If the broody hen is sitting on an empty nest, you may be able to encourage her to leave by blocking off the nest box or providing a different type of nesting material. You can also try gently picking up the hen and moving her away from the nest box.

  1. Provide Distractions

Sometimes, broody hens become fixated on hatching eggs and may need distractions to encourage them to leave the nest. You can provide distractions such as treats or toys to encourage the hen to leave the nest box.

  1. Use a Broody Hen Box

A broody hen box is a separate enclosure that is designed to encourage hens to become broody. It typically includes a nesting area and a separate area for food and water. Using a broody hen box can help to keep broody hens separate from the rest of your flock and allow them to incubate eggs without disrupting your egg production.

  1. Break the Broody Cycle

If you’re not interested in hatching eggs, you may want to break the broody cycle altogether. You can do this by temporarily removing the broody hen from the nest box and placing her in a separate area without nesting material. This will help to disrupt the hormonal cycle that is causing the broodiness.


Broody hens can be a challenge for backyard chicken keepers, but they’re also a natural part of chicken behavior. By understanding why hens become broody and how to manage broodiness, you can help to maintain a healthy and productive flock. Whether you’re trying to hatch eggs or just looking to keep your hens happy and healthy, managing broodiness is an important part of backyard chicken keeping.

About the Author
The Poultry Feed Team

The Poultry Feed Team

I am Ehsan from The Poultry Feed Team. We all started out as poultry novices ourselves, so we know just how confusing it can be to try and figure everything out on your own. That's why we're here! We want to help you become the best caretaker of these lovely feathered animals.