The Flat Broody

Pearl is currently as flat as a pancake. Do my international readers know that expression? Do you have a similar phrase?

flat broody


Pearl is broody. Of course. She’s a cochin. It’s what this breed does.

Here is Twiggy for comparison. She’s a leghorn. She’s an extraordinary layer. When she goes into the nesting box, it’s all business and it’s for as little time as possible. Note that her head stays upright and that she stays alert to the world. (Also note that there is a rabbit below!)




In contrast, Pearl has staked out everyone’s favorite nesting box, the one second to the right. She hunkers down as flat as a fluffy and hefty hen can. Onyx is in the box next to her. Note the difference. Onyx is bright-eyed and her head is several inches above the edge of the box.

not broody



Not Pearl. She glares. It’s the classic broody attitude.

broody attitude



Even when not broody, at best, Pearl lays only a couple of eggs a week. So, it’s not worth trying to snap her out of it. I’m ignoring her state. Let her be in a huff. Let her sit there. It does her no harm. I know that she’s getting out to eat, drink and dust bathe – all with broody attitude.

broody outside


Is anyone flat as a pancake in your coop?


    • I haven’t heard peep so I assume all is good. I set it up so that once the flock was established, they wouldn’t need me :)

  1. Yes, one of my Buckeyes is broody
    I am just letting her be that way too she gets out to eat and drink and then right back! I will only worry if we start to get the real heat of summer here in MA. I wouldn’t want her in the nesting box all day when we get high temps. and humidity

    • If the coop is small and gets too hot, you can put food and water outside and shut them out of it. She’ll probably hunker down somewhere in the shade, but at least she won’t get heatstroke.

  2. I have a Colombian Wyandotte who is broody so I put a few eggs (fertile) under her, and I have a maran/ americuana who hatched eggs a couple weeks ago. All off the chicks are a jersey giant cross. The chicks are cute, funny though the chicks are white Wyandotte, leghorn and Columbia. Wyndotte mixed with the Jersey rooster I thought for sure the babies would come out dark or splash but they can out white with like 1 or 2 black feathers I thought black would be dominant she also hatched a jersey houdan mix a jersey, speckled Sussex mix and a pure jersey all of them are dark the jersey/Sussex is a beautiful brown. Like Brindle if you will.

  3. My four nest boxes are full of broody hens. I think I have a total of six at the moment.
    Some of the hens that are laying have resorted to laying on top of the tote I keep their feed in. The other just climb in squeeze in or sit on a broody.
    I have provided some temp. next boxes in the way of milk crates but the hens won’t no part of them.

  4. I have a broody white leghorn for the second year in a row. I’ve never had any other breed go broody on me. I’m trying to break her because I live in AZ and I think it’s too hot (109 degrees) to sit in the nesting box all day! She disagrees.

      • Nope, not a bantam. This gal breaks all the rules! I wish I could say this heat will break soon, but it will probably be September before we see daytime highs below 100 again. Ugh.

  5. My White Rock is broody for the second time. She hatched 3 last year. I’ve yet to get her some fertilized eggs so I am hoping she hangs in there a few more days until I can get some. The other day she had 16 eggs under her. :) I am lucky with her…she is the sweetest Hen, even when broody. She’s a great momma too!

      • Yes, her flock make, a Salmon Faverolle, is “helping” her out and whenever I shoo her off the eggs, she shoots flames out of her eyes and tries to peck me to death ;) so I get the best of both worlds. hehe

        • My Speckled Sussex was a sweet broody too. She would let you pet her, but if you got too close to the eggs, she’d lightly peck you as a warning.

  6. My silkie hen is broody – or was. She’s had two day (or two)-old foster chicks to mother for just over a week now in a broody coop inside the run, but sectioned off by a temporary fence. I was lucky to know someone in the area with some recently hatched chicks – a lemon cuckoo Marans and a buff Brahma – who needed a broody rental.

  7. Yep, my black blue cochin, Olivia, somehow squeezed her oversized body into one of our smallest nesting boxes, and will not budge. If she does leave to get food, she clucks with attitude the whole way.

    There must be something about the weather, as in the past month, we have acquired about eight more broody girls – a Polish, two salmon faverolles, two silkies, two black copper marans, and an olive egger who bites when you check underneath her. I finally gave up removing them from their nesting boxes multiple times a day and offered them some guinea eggs to sit on. The guinea keets just hatched last week and are so cute! We are letting our white silkie take care of them…all twelve barely fit underneath her! :)

  8. I have a small mixed flock. A month ago one of my two Australorps got broody. She had been behaving oddly for the previous month and a half. (I think she may have some neurological issues, but that’s a different matter.) Anyway, she stayed on the nest for just shy of the necessary time, then stopped setting. But one of the eggs was about to hatch…had the little chip in it, and when I picked it up and gently tapped the egg, it started to peep at me. I ended up taking the little chick and the other four eggs over to a friend who has an incubator. Two more hatched a few days apart. I was sad that the hen was not mothering them though.
    Then within a couple of days, my other Australorp began to set. I had raised this breed once before and none of them got broody, so I didn’t expect this. This second hen however, ended up in the wrong nesting box at about day five. So her eggs may be ruined, as they went for at least 24 hours without the warmth of the hen. But I’m leaving them be, to see what happens.

  9. A ‘better safe than sorry’ comment. I saw Phoebe sitting by the ladder squished into a ball, ears pinned. I sat and watched for awhile because she clearly wasn’t happy. She then sucked in her stomach and arched up and over like there was suddenly a ball shoved into her stomach. She did this twice. The motion reminded me of a person puking into a toilet. She then sat squished into a ball shape for a few minutes more, then slowly sat up on her hind legs for a moment and then back down to hop out of sight of the camera. I personally have never seen this behavior and if it’s normal and you know the reason I would appreciate a heads up!

    • Thanks, I’ll keep an eye on her. She might have been using the area as a toilet, which she does when it’s wet out.

  10. Just last week I had five broody hens who had been broody for over a month! I had to take a hard approach and lock them out in the outdoor run(which is predator proof) for 4 days and nights. Thankfully it worked and everyone is back to normal!

  11. I wish I had a broodie! I’d love to sneak some chicks under one of my hens so that I don’t have to do the heat lamp regimen again. I suppose I shouldn’t wish such bad behavior on myself but I think it would be so fun to see one of the girls have a chance at motherhood.

    • Whenever I wanted a hen to be broody for the arrival of chicks, of course, there wasn’t a broody in the group!

  12. We use the same phrase here. My Buff Sussex and one of my RIReds have been taking it in turns for the last 3 months, they lay a clutch of eggs then spend 5 days in the broody cage, they have a few days thinking about things then start laying and of we go again. The RIR is a very good natured broody, but the Buff Sussex becomes
    possessed by the devil, she squawks and pecks with real attitude, when not broody she is calm and placid…….:)

  13. Yes we use the same phrase but not the same reason to use it yet, even Dot is out and about at the moment. However we have a big rise in temperature due from tomorrow – that’ll do it!

  14. My Sussex, Speckles, went broody about 2 months ago and has hatched out 4 chicks. Two are sussex/cochin cross and the others are full cochin (She sat on our cochin’s eggs, as well as her own.)

    Now, our cochin may be going broody too. Princess Peach was in the box yesterday, and never came out. She and Speckles had a bit of a fight too over a section of the coop. Today, she is cranky but still hanging around outside. Is there some way to tell if she’s really broody, or is she just cranky over the attention the chicks are getting?

    • Broody is different – there’s that flattened pancake appearance in the box, and the huffed out feathers. Other traits, too. My FAQ details them.

  15. My Blue Laced Red Wyandotte Lucy has chosen the hottest week of the year so far to become broody- I’m talking 100 degree days here. I know she’s getting out and about because of the massive one a day poops in the hen run, so I check on her, make sure she hasn’t over heated and let her be.

    • Those 100 degree days are scary. I know people who have misters on their coop roofs, which does bring the temp down by enough to keep the hens safe.

  16. I have a variation on this problem – the lovely Reba, who seems committed to being broody for her entire adult life, doesn’t flatten out. Rather, she puffs up like an absurd porcupine and makes angry pterodactyl noises at anyone who looks in her direction. The first time I let it go, but after FIVE WEEKS she started losing weight badly and I became worried about her general well being. It took a week in the broody cage to sort her out. Now three weeks later she’s right back at it, during a triple-digit heat wave. I put her in the box for four full days after only a day or two of broodiness, but that didn’t break her! So back she goes. Any thoughts if a full week doesn’t do the trick? I’m trying to balance how worked up she sometimes gets in the broody cage (elevated in full shade) with how high her temp might go if I let her brood (at least she does it outside the henhouse) and with 100 degree weather for the next week I’m a little stumped.

    • Can you set up a box fan in the coop? Also, you can put ice packs under her. Annoys the heck out of the hen, doesn’t break the broodiness, but does give them relief from the heat (spoken from experience!)

      • Aha! Good call on the ice packs. Will give that a shot if I let her out and she goes back to brooding.

  17. My Buff Orpington, Gracie, is all huffed up, feathers on end, growling and even screeching occasionally, yet doesn’t bother the other three and is ignored by them. She blocks the ‘favourite’ low nest box, so the others just pile in on top of her and lay their eggs. We take her out to free range just before bedtime with the others..she goes fine – eats drinks dust bathes and goes to roost BUT that is because we have removed the nest box until morning. Wow – what a grump! Tried isolating her, but it hasn’t worked.

  18. My Speckled Sussex has been broody for 25 days and counting! Will she simply snap out of it or is it a gradual return to normal?

    I tried separating her but decided neither one of us were enjoying that option!

    I’ve decided to consider it quirky hen behavior and let it run its course. I “encourage” her out of her nest box a couple of times a day to ensure she’s eating, drinking, and bathing. I will point a fan directly into her nest should temps really rise before she is back in the swing of things.

    I have found the broody behavior very interesting. It’s powerful stuff.

  19. I have Topaz who I call my perpetual broody or a girl in broody limbo. She laid only six eggs last year and only eight eggs this year, both times at the beginning of the season.

    She then goes broody, as someone else says she puffs herself up and pecks me and is full of anger. But she doesn’t commit hence my term of broody limbo. She waits until any girl lays an egg and sits on it but once I remove the eggs from under her she comes out in a rage of anger then forgets it until the next girl lays.

    I can’t leave her any one nest box to sit because as soon as another girl lays she is off to join them. I thought she had a sixth sense to tell when a girl is laying but while in the run recently I got an insight into how she does it. A girl went quietly into a nest box but as soon as she started scratching around to get the nest to her liking, Topaz heard the sound and was straight over and went in with her.

    Because of this she doesn’t ever return to lay eggs until the following spring. I haven’t yet come across anyone else with quite this same problem. I have resined myself to just accepting it.

  20. I remember that expression because it was often used in reference to my figure as a young teenager. I`m sure my eyes glared then, just as Pearl`s do. :)

  21. Just wondering, is Pearl a Splash Cochin or a frizzled? She looked frizzled in the last picture, but then again, I would be too if someone’s taking pictures of me in a box. ;)

    • She was supposed to be a blue cochin, but her coloring is a faded grey. Everyone’s feathers are a mess after this winter – they won’t look good again until after the molt in the fall…

  22. I have bantams and there are always several broody; I have two who have hatched 5 chicks each, but a wyandotte who has been broody for 35 days ad a pekin for 29. They have both spent time in the anti-broody cage, but persist. Once the other girls are past the time of laying, I close up the hen houses nuntil bedtime but, with the long days, sometimes hens lay up to 6.30 in the evening. It’s a factor of hen-keeping that we just have to get on with!

  23. Hoping Pearl snaps out of her broodiness soon. I understand the phrase “flat as a pancake”, in Australia we also say “flat as a tack”.

  24. In my country, (The Netherlands) which is as flat as a pancake :), the expression is “zo plat als een dubbeltje” ( flat as a dime)

  25. I don’t know if we should put eggs under or hen or not. My dad tookout the first egg, but she hasn’t laid any since. We have a rooster who um…does his magic to her a lot. :)
    She seems to be more of a worried broody, but looks like she wants eggs. Should we just let her be, or get an egg from a friend to hatch?

    • All broodies want eggs – doesn’t mean you have to giver her any. To safely hatch out eggs under a broody, she needs to be separated into a broody pen. So, unless you’re prepared to do that – and deal with any cockerels that might hatch out, I wouldn’t give her fertile eggs.