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Broodiness

Overview


Broodiness is a behavior exhibited by hens which causes them to cease laying eggs and display a strong desire to incubate eggs and hatch chicks. The behavior is often referred to commonly as a hen who has gone 'broody'. Broody hens will be seen spending every waking hour of the day sitting on her nest. Often, if the hen is picked up and placed somewhere else, she will fluff out her feathers and just proceed to nest in that very location for a few moments, before eventually making her way back to her nest. If given eggs, broody hens may use her beak to roll them underneath her.

Persistent broodiness can become a health risk, as a nesting hen normally consumes one-fifth of the amount of feed she would normally eat, and on some days may not eat at all. This can cause her to lose as much as 20% of her body weight.

Clinical Signs

Hen makes hissing and other annoyance noises if disturbed
Hen sits in nest for prolonged periods of time
Hen actively seeks out eggs to sit on

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs

Treatment

Management: Everytime you see her in the nest, pick her up and put her out with the other chickens.

Prevention

Scientific References

Good Overviews

Blogs

Risk Factors

  • Leaving eggs in nests
  • Breed - Certain breeds have a predisposition to be frequently broody. Silkies and Cochins are well known for their broody behavior, and reputation for being excellent mothers to newly hatched chicks.