Be Kind to Your Broody Chooks

broody chook

Springtime means babies, and heritage chooks hear natures call to nest and hatch. Sitting on eggs in hope, is called being broody and some varieties feel the urge stronger than others. Needless to say hylines and shavers have had motherhood bred out of them.

The difference between sitting to lay the daily egg, and hoping to hatch a baby becomes obvious as the day goes on. If Mrs Chook is still in the nesting box in the afternoon, that’s your first clue. And the grouchy attitude is the second – she’ll fluff up her feathers and growl or peck you. Awww, love the ferocity of maternal urges.

Yes, I want babies!

If you’ve got a rooster, ergo fertilised eggs + you want babies, then let the cycle play out. I like to move my mums and their eggs to a separate spot – some where warm and dry and safe. A little self contained pen and nest sitting in the chookyard is my favourite. This way they can still see/ hear their family but are safe from rats, dominatrix hens or mean roosters.

If you leave the broody hen on the nest in the hen house to raise her eggs, she’ll do her best to deter the others from entering and if she’s successful, you’ll end up with eggs being laid elsewhere. Much depends on your set up, in this regard.

No, I dont want babies!

If you dont have a rooster, ergo no fertilised eggs, or you don’t need babies – you’ve got 2 options.

  • let the broody cycle play out in a safe space, same as above.
  • or pop Mrs Chook into a broody box to cool off.

Literally! She raises her temperature to incubate the eggs, so by lowering it – it flicks the switch, and Mrs eventually goes back to normal.

A kind broody box

I hang our broody box in the chookyard for company. The box has a mesh floor to instigate cooling, containers for water + food securely attached to the wall, and a roof to protect from weather. Mum is fed + watered, nice and dry.

However long she is broody for, is how long she will take to get back to laying, so I like to get her into the broody box at the first sign. This way she’ll only need 3 or 4 nights max in there.

If, when returned to the flock, she hops right back on the nest to brood – give her another night in the box.

There are some pretty awful ways of managing broody chooks out there – from hobbling one leg, to holding under icy cold water, to hanging in a sack – good grief. I’m not a fan of any of these. 3 or 4 nights in a broody box ain’t so bad.


  1. Cornelia Rol says

    I love this idea of a broody box, I have at the moment two broody hens, this sounds like a marvellous plan. I’ll start tomorrow making one. I have enough trees in the coop to hang one up.

Speak Your Mind