Does Your Hen Refuse to Come Out of the Nesting Box?

If you are a first time chicken owner, you may get worried if you have a hen that refuses to leave her nest. You may think she is sick or egg bound. Chances are you just have a broody hen.

Why do hens go broody?  Broody is a hen's version of a biological clock. They basically want to hatch their eggs and produce baby chicks. They will go broody sometimes even without having a single egg to sit on. They also can go broody regardless of whether or not you have a rooster.

What does a broody hen look like? When hens go broody they spend the entire day on the nest. They will get up only once or twice a day for water, food, and to poop. They are also fluffed up and generally seem angry. It is their way of warning everyone to stay away from their eggs. Here is a video of my two. They went broody at the same time and would stay right next to each other rather than use the two nesting boxes. Additionally you may notice they pluck out some of their own breast feathers to keep their eggs warm.

What can you do when they go broody? One option is to purchase fertilized eggs online and allow them to have babies. I recently purchased six off of Amazon. I have also purchased at

The other option is to try and break your hen out of her broody state. One idea is to take the hen off of the nest several times a day to encourage her to eat and drink. According to The Happy Chicken Coop, you can also remove all of the nesting material or take away her access to the nest entirely.

Staying in a broody state is hard on the hen because they don't eat and drink very much. It can be tough on the owner too because they don't lay eggs during this time. However, I tend to leave mine alone for the most part. I will remove any eggs they have under them daily because even though they are not laying, they are known to steal the eggs from neighboring nest boxes. I also will lift them and encourage them to move around while I clean the coop and the boxes. Other than that, I don't worry too much about a hen in this state unless she starts to look overly weak or stressed. In most cases, nature takes its course and they are done with being broody after several weeks.


  1. I was searching for some articles about caring for broody hens and I came across this page
    I noticed that you linked to a great article —

    Just wanted to give you a heads up that I created a similar article.
    It’s similar, but is more thorough and up to date:  

    It might be worth a mention on your page.
    Either way, keep up the great work!


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