A Broody Hen’s Outing

We’ve had a span of rainy weather and the hens were stuck inside their pens. But the other day there was a break, the sun appeared, and I had the time to sit outside with the girls and watch for hawks while they free-ranged. When I swung open the door to the run, they all barged out, grabbing at grass and running off to the flower beds.

(This photo illustrates exactly why the girls were not allowed out before the garden tour! What you miss in this still is Opal’s vigorous scratching right on top of the flowers.)

That is, all of the hens rushed out except for Topaz. Topaz is broody again. She is the quintessential broody – huffy, bad-tempered, and ruffled up to twice her size. But she doesn’t intimidate me. I unceremoniously extracted her from the nesting box and tossed her onto the lawn. After some grumbling, she noticed the Adirondack chairs.

Topaz went as high as she could, the perfect position to lord it over the other hens.

She made a big show of feather ruffling and preening.

Nobody looked her way, but it did set her off-balance.

How annoying!

So Topaz complained all the way back to the nesting box, where her fowl foul mood continues.




    • I take the eggs away from the broodies. Most of the time they to are on nothing – except when Topaz goes and sits on top of the hens that are laying. Sigh.

  1. Sorry about the broody hen but they are so beautiful all fluffed up! Good luck Terry.

  2. Three of my hens have been broody for over a month. I build a broody cage and have put them in it 3 days in a row but it doesn’t seem to be helping yet.

      • I wonder. Yesterday I tried just locking them out of the coop all day. They were in the yard and it was a really breezy cool day but they still all piled in one nest box at bed time! My chickens always go to bed like an hour and a half before dark. If I remember, I try to go out and put the broodies up on the perch after dark.

  3. Although I miss owning Cochins, I’m relieved that none of my flock are broody… they can be such a nuisance!

    BTW we have very similar Adirondack chairs and the hens love perching on them. But take care, once Fergie our big Buff Orp (one of our first ever flock) slipped when on the top and her leg went between the back slats. She hung there upside down trapped by her leg! Luckily we were at home and noticed she didn’t come running for a handful of corn for supper and then we found her and thankfully she wasn’t injured – just a bit shocked!


  4. Sounds like some hen needs a time out to cool down in the old bunny hutch. Even with ruffled and fluffed feathers, she’s a beautiful color and hen even with a less than pleasant disposition.

  5. Those action shots of Topaz are so comical. I laughed out loud and had to insist my husband looked too. Great pictures as always, brings a smile to me at the end of a stressful day and really brightens me up.

  6. Terry-
    I had a broody hen coinsidentally when I brought home 3 chicks (impulse buy) so snuck them in under my elected little mamma- that was May 5th- about 6 weeks ago now.
    Well mamma just laid an egg yesterday.
    We just finished our 1st year of chickening, and question is when do we separate mamma from the chicks?

    • Jill, Wendy (who very conveniently commented after you) has much experience with broody hens and chicks. I have none. So, I’ll pass this along to the expert.

  7. I’m going to have to let Gladys hatch something now – it’s her third brooding this year and she’s determined. I’ve known her last over a week in the slammer and still come out swaggering like Steve McQueen before strolling back to her nest and settling in. I hate being outwitted by a hen.
    My lot sit in the deckchairs, given half a chance.

  8. Hi Jill – if she’s laying again then she’s probably ready to leave them, but they all vary enormously. Of my two broodies, Babbs is getting bored at about five weeks and when she’s laid a couple of eggs I tend to lift her out of the broody run. If she trots off happily and finds a treat and eats it without calling to them, then she’s cured! If not I pop her back in, and try again every day.
    Gladys would keep her babies forever and the weaning process is a bit more stressful – I have to take her out after eight weeks and make sure she can still get to the chick run and visit them or she gets distressed. She can see them, and will gradually move further away, sleep back in the big house with the others, and start laying again. I don’t think she would start laying again if I left her with them. But then she is completely obsessed with babies…
    So the answer is trial and error! If she’s happy with them and not pecking them, leave her in there. Try her away from them but make sure she has access to see them if she needs to.
    And beware, broodies returning to a flock can often be either very aggressive, or very submissive, so you may have to wade in and break up a fight if it gets more serious than the top hen doing a bit of display-pecking (for the others to see, to assert her dominance) or foot stamping. If you have a cock then he should sort things out!

  9. The one thing I would add to Wendy’s comment is that if the hen and chicks are amongst the rest of the flock she will wean them on her own. When she is done mothering she will peck at them while she is feeding and will not allow them to roost next to her any longer.
    I like Wendy have one hen that will mother almost indefinately. My Ebay has two chicks that still roost under her wings. They were hatched March 20th!!

  10. Hey Terri,
    My black Orphington went broody and the other girls would pick on her…I would take her and put in an old coop when I was not around and return her to the group (4 in all) at night. I would put down water and feed but she did not take very much and her comb shriveled (sp?) and lost its color… after about 4 wks I went to let them out and she was the first one out the door and was very hungry.. Her comb has become normal and regained its color, but now my blue Orphington took to the nest last night setting on the eggs and is acting the same way. I dont mind it too much.. I figure they need the time to rest anyway they are all pretty good layers. BTW I really enjoy your Hen cam and I showed it to my granddaughter and she loved watching the hens.