What To Do About A Broody

Topaz, the Buff Orpington pullet, is broody. That means that she is huffed up in the most coveted nesting box, growling at anyone who comes near. There are no eggs, let alone fertile eggs, under her. She doesn’t care. Her hormones have taken over and she is determined to stay put. She could be like this for weeks.

If you dare to extricate her from the box, she becomes a gigantic angry ball of bristling feathers.

Topaz is in the prime of her egg-laying and yet she isn’t leaving a one. Every morning she exits the nest box to deposit the hugest, stinkiest pile of poo in existence (for a photo, go to Wendy’s blog – she was willing to photograph a similar load left by her broody. Me? I toss it as quickly as possible.) Topaz eats and drinks, and then goes back into the nesting box. Being broody does not do Topaz nor I any good whatsoever. I have a plan to stop it.

A hen’s body temperature becomes elevated when broody (all the better to keep the eggs warm.) If you can bring down the temp, you can break the broodiness.

I put Topaz into a wire-floored rabbit hutch. It’s a chilly, windy day. She’s got to cool off.

So far she’s mostly sitting. But, Topaz did get up to eat and drink.

Hopefully, she’ll be back to her mild-mannered, egg-laying self in a couple of days, and she’ll be put back in with the flock. Some hens repeatedly go broody, others get put in the anti-broody coop once, and that’s that. I’m hoping for the latter. I’ll keep you posted.


  1. My Hannah goes broody all the time, it seems. And she is one of my green egg layers, which means I am not getting one from her. I take her out of the box once a day and she clucks around, warning all the others to stay away. Then she goes back into the box. I think I would be breaking her cycle constantly if I even tried. Fortunately, out of 16 hens, she is the only one that does this.

  2. My Australorp Mary has gone broody twice in the last six months. The last time I caught it early and it only took two days in the wire pen to break the broodiness. I guess I’m lucky though she never growls or pecks at me when she’s broody.

  3. Boy, she looks CRANKY in those first two photos!

    Thanks for the link to Wendy’s poo photo. I had no idea how BIG a hen’s once-a-day broody poo could be! Not sure I’m looking forward to that part of chicken keeping. ;-)

  4. I can’t believe I clicked a link to look at a giant chicken turd. But I did.

  5. I must say, she does look very pretty with her feathers all fluffed up though! She is the first Gem to go broody?

  6. Sarah, I clicked on the link too. Can you believe that thing came out of a hen? Yikes!!

  7. Hi Terry! The Orpintons are ENORMOUS when they are brooding! My bantys are all brooding…but that us what they do..I leave them alone. But I still like those cute little eggs on toast. Just perfect for me! BTW….The guinea hen has fit in nicely. She chases stray dogs out of the yard and makes a hideous noise when someone is at the door….I love her..was thinking of getting her a mate????

    • I know very little about guineas – mostly because (as you put it) that “hideous noise.” But, I have read that the boys are quiet. Also, they lay nice little eggs, so your slacker banties could be left alone.

  8. I will send you a picture of her…Her name is Gertrude….suits her!

  9. Even chickens are affected by hormones, cooling off certainly makes sense, I’m forever kicking the covers off at night and sticking my head in the freezer! Happy Spring, Julie.

  10. I love the idea of a broody coop for ‘tropical’ women! Can I have chocolate Hobnobs (UK biscuit, like crack cocaine) and gin and tonics in mine?

    I am so pleased so many folk around the world are enjoying my hen’s ordure. It may become a regular feature… also, ‘cat-kill innards left at the end of the bed for me to stand on with bare feet in the half-light’

  11. Terry,

    I can’t figure out what’s going on with my eight hens. I was consistently getting 6 eggs a day and the occasional 7-8/day. The last 2 1/2 weeks it’s dropped to 3-4 eggs and if I’m lucky 5 eggs a day. I can’t figure it out. They all seem healthy. We haven’t had any animals lurking around that we know of. My husband thinks maybe their scared of the crows, but I’m not convinced that’s it. I’ve had them out free ranging when I’m home and have check their usual hideouts, but No eggs. I’ve watched them go in and out of the nesting boxes and not lay a single egg. I’m stumped. I don’t think their egg bound since their acting fine. Any ideas??? I really enjoy reading your blog! Happy Easter!

    • There are so many variables. You might have gotten a spring rush of eggs and now they’ve settled into their natural cycle. Most of the older breeds, like the orpingtons, only lay 4 eggs a week. Look at your weekly tally, not the daily. Also, weather swings can impact laying. A sudden heat or cold snap can do it. But, if you’re really not getting enough eggs for the flock, keep them in for 3 days and see if they are hiding them…

  12. I, too, use this method to cure my broodies. We call it “Broody Jail” and it works better than anything else we’ve tried! It takes 4-5 days to break the broody cycle. I read somewhere that it will take them twice the amount of time they were allowed to stay broody before they will begin to lay eggs again. This appears to be accurate…do you agree?

    • The hens I’ve broken of being broody were never great layers in the first place, and I never kept track. Interesting rule of thumb!

    • When my hen went broody I caught her early and in two days the broodiness broke and she laid an egg in the “broody jail”. The previous time she went broody and didn’t stop laying for a couple of days. I didn’t have a jail and had to build one, so it took 4-5 days to beak that time. She did lay again in a just a couple of days.

  13. Well, at least one of Buff Orphingtons is showing off some personality, not the best but at least it will define her as different in your mind. I know right know I am watching on youtube the adventure of a unlikely broody white plymouth rock hen hoping to raise half silkie/barred rock chicks. That will be a combo.

  14. Iam sitting here in the library and laughing my head off with tears in my eyes. My students are wondering what I am looking at. Keep up the good work you all. Thanks!!

  15. I willed my Silkie Chicken-Little to go broody and it worked. I wanted her to hatch some Americuana eggs I got from a friend in 11 or 12 day I should hear the peep of little chicks. ( hopefully all girls)

      • Yesterday my other silkie Fluffy went broody so i got he two Australorp eggs to hatch also both of my silkies will be happy mommas