What Does Brooding Mean? | What Is A Broody Chicken?

What Does Brooding Mean? | What Is A Broody Chicken?

What does brooding mean
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If you’re new to chickens, you may have heard the term broody before. Which usually leads to the question what does brooding mean? It means a hen is sitting on eggs to keep them warm to incubate them.

When fertilized eggs are incubated, they will grow life. In 21 days or so, you’ll start to hear some peep peeping…Baby Chicks!

You don’t need a rooster in the flock in order for chickens to lay eggs. Just like women, we have eggs without being near a man.

Also, the same is said for fertilization. Chickens and women need a male to fertilize our eggs. These basics may seem silly, but I’ve had this question asked so many times!

Some chicken breeds get broody and others do not. I’ll create a list in this post but for now, let’s talk about the finer details of what brooding really means!

What Does Brooding Really Mean?

These troublemaking chickens want to make babies! Yep, that’s what it means…They are going to sit on some eggs, and if they’re fertilized they may hatch.

Questions About Dealing With A Broody Chicken

When dealing with a broody chicken the first time, many questions may arise. I tried to remember all the questions that came up with my first one. Here’s a couple questions to get you started.. However, feel free to ask any questions in the comments too!

What Happens When I Find A Secret Clutch Of Eggs With A Broody Hen On Them?

That’s a good question. I’ve actually had this happen before! In the beginning…No not in the book of Genesis! In my journey to raising chickens…the early days were filled with mistakes. Even though I had read every book on chickens and as many blog posts that I could get my hands on I made some pretty big mistakes!

One of them being neglectful to remove a broody chicken from the nest…In my defence, this nest was extremely hard to get to. It was located in the Horse Trailer Chicken Coop and you had to remove the chicken roosts to get all the way to those nests…When we were building this coop, I wanted an access panel to those boxes, but it never got put in!!! Gah. Whatever. …I’m over it, they are blocked off now and they have a different place to lay now…So not a huge ordeal.

surprise clutch of eggs hatched

This nest was up high too. It’s not an ideal place for chicks to be hatched! I had to put in these grey pavers as you can see below so the chicks didn’t go over the edge…

baby chickens

Now that you know I’ve been through this…*coughs*…more than once…You know I have some experience in this part of the journey.

First off, when you find a secret nest, you’ll want to do what we chicken ladies call candling. You can buy a candling lamp or I just use a very powerful flashlight. Learn how to know what you’re looking in this post about candling eggs.

If you find that some of the eggs are already developed, you should get prepared for babies! Or you could try to sell them if you don’t want to keep them. If they are duds…you should most likely throw them out. If you’re super keen on keeping them for consumption you can try to do an egg float test.

How Long Does It Take For Eggs To Hatch?

It takes about 21 days in total for a chicken egg to hatch, about 28 for ducks and geese.

Will My Chicken Sit On Eggs For 21 Days?

Good mamas will be dedicated and sit on their eggs for 21+ days until hatching occurs. Not all the eggs will hatch on the same day most likely, they may have been laid on separate days…

I will note that after a week or more, after the first egg hatches, mama will begin to leave the nest with her chicks…Regardless of whether or not all the eggs have hatched. The eggs left over in the nest may still be viable though. So check them with a light to see how they are developing…You may need to place them in an incubator, and then give them to mama when they hatch or raise them yourself.

Why Did My Broody Hen Push Eggs Off To The Side?

I’ve noticed that broody hens instinctively know when an egg is bad. Bad eggs have a potent smell. Sometimes eggs either they aren’t fertile or something in the development stages went wrong inside the egg and it’s not capable of sustaining life. No matter the reason, if you’re girl is pushing eggs out from under her, they are probably bad and should be thrown out.

Do you see how there are eggs she’s not sitting on? I usually wait and see if it’s just that she hasn’t adjusted herself. If you wait a day…You might notice that she’s pushed the egg/s even further away from the nest…So they don’t get confused with the good eggs…Or perhaps she adjusts and is sitting on them again. A good way to tell is to smell them though. They smell like something died…When they are bad.

Another thing you can do that I’ve done is push the eggs back under her…If she pushes them back out within the next day…Throw them out!

cute baby chick on top of mama chicken

What Time Of The Year Do Chickens Brood? | What Does Brooding Mean?

We all expect that chickens will brood in the springtime right? It’s natural for most birds of all kinds to have eggs hatching during that time of year. However, I’ve had chickens brooding every time of the year…Spring, summer, winter, fall…However, our climate is practically summer all year here…So? I have no idea what it’s like for people who actually have winters!

Do Older Hens Go Broody? | What Does Brooding Mean?

Yes..Some people even say they are more likely to go broody, but that hasn’t been my experience. We had more broodiness from the girls when they were younger!

How To Make A Hen Broody?

You can’t make a chicken be broody or make her sit on eggs and care for them. This is a natural instinct that occurs. It simply can’t be forced. However, if you’re really keen on raising chicks you can always incubate them.

How To Stop A Broody Hen?

  1. Remove eggs often. Multiple times a day if you can…
  2. Remove chicken from nesting box…Repeatedly!
  3. If that doesn’t work, and you REALLY don’t want babies…Quarantine her! You can see how I quarantine sick birds in the Chicken First Aid post…I would quarantine for up to a week. Make sure she has plenty of food and water, and place her somewhere safe! We typically keep them on our screened-in porch.

How To Take Care Of A Brooding Hen | What Does Brooding Mean?

Broody hens tend to sit on their eggs for what seems like days on end without getting up. This can be very worrisome to chicken keepers. Especially, when you don’t see her eating or drinking. When it’s hot outside this can be a little worrying…However, I do have some tips to help care for a broody hen.

Does A Broody Hen Eat Or Drink?

Yes. They rarely get off the eggs, but they do get up to eat and drink. However, I noticed with my girls the broody hens did not get up to eat when we give them food in the mornings. They seem to eat more in the latter part of the day rather than the beginning of it…

Since we live in Florida and it’s HOT like H-E-double hockey sticks…I find that it’s necessary to bring the food and water to my broody chicken. So she can have all-day access. It’s way too hot to go hours without water!

How To Give Water And Food To A Broody Hen? | What Does Brooding Mean?

I like to use the baby chick waterer and feeders (these come with a hanging harness) inside the coop for broody hens. If you have a bigger coop you can obviously use the bigger ones. It’s best to find something solid to set them on or hang them up. Also, place them as close to the hen as possible. Even so, she doesn’t have to get up off the eggs to get a drink of water.

This will help too when the chicks hatch! In a few days, the chicks will be ready for their first meal. You’ll want to feed them “chick starter“. Mom will show them how to drink water and eat! The hen can eat this chick food too. Typically, egg-laying production is slowed when a chicken goes broody. That means she doesn’t need the calcium that “layer feed” provides.

What does brooding mean?

Do Hens Need A Special Place For Brooding?

No matter how many nesting boxes you provide, ONE is usually the favorite among all the girls…A broody chicken is a grumpy protective chicken. Other girls may want to use the coveted spot for laying, but the broody chicken won’t want to give up her spot!

Also, when chicks hatch it’s a good idea that they have a separate space to roam around. If your chickens live in a smaller coop, baby chicks could get stepped on, hurt, or worse.

So, yes it’s a good idea to have a brooder or separate area for mama. Keep in mind that baby chick’s legs are small, so something that is predator-proof near the ground would be best. If you have a large coop, I would suggest moving mama and her eggs to a spot that isn’t “the coveted nesting box”. That way she can brood in peace!

mama chicken and baby chick

Broody Chicken List And No-So Broody Chickens

Broody Chicken Breeds

  1. Cochins
  2. Brahmas
  3. Sussex
  4. Silkies
  5. Cubalaya
  6. Buff Orpingtons
  7. Marans

Not-So Broody Chicken Breeds

  1. Andalusian
  2. Barred Rock
  3. Barnevelder
  4. Campine
  5. Sebright
  6. Faverolles
  7. Leghorn
  8. New Hampshire
  9. ISA Brown
  10. Polish
  11. Rhode Island Red
  12. Spanish
  13. Sultan

I put the not-so broody hen list together from this post called 24 Chicken Breeds That Rarely Go Broody…This list is incomplete…See the entire list at the link provided if you like!

The broody chicken list came from a couple different sources of hatcheries.

As you can see my Red Sex Link chickens didn’t even make the list…Even though they have obviously gone broody a fews times!


Brooding means that these troublemaking chickens want to make babies! Yep, that’s what it means… Brooding mean that chickens are ready to become mothers. A chicken will sit on eggs and if they’re fertilized they may hatch.

I hope this helps you to understand what brooding really means, and that you got a few questions answered. If you have any questions still lingering, ask them in the comments!

I’d love To Know what you think!… Leave me a comment!

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What does brooding mean

2 thoughts on “What Does Brooding Mean? | What Is A Broody Chicken?”

  1. You only get fertilized eggs with a rooster right? If it’s only hens then you shouldn’t really get brooding chickens?

    1. Chickens will get broody regardless of whether or not there is a rooster around…Chickens are much smarter than people think…However, they are not that smart 😉

      You are correct on the first question though. Eggs are fertilized by roosters.

      Hope this helps! Have a wonderful week.

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