When a Broody Hen Won't Stop Being Broody

Broody hens. If you only want eggs from your birds, sometimes maternal hens are nothing more than a literal pain, pecking at your hands as you try to retrieve the goods. But if you want chicks, broody hens are absolutely necessary. 

So what do you do when you have a broody hen who doesn’t want to stop being broody?  

I was recently asked this question from a reader regarding her broody chicken:   

“Will a hen stop sitting on eggs if they are not going to hatch? I have a hen that hatched out two chicks a week ago but she continues to sit on four other eggs. I’m just curious how long she will stay on them.”

This was my reply:

I’m not sure there is an absolute answer to your question. Some hens will sit as long as instinct (and a little bit of hope) tells them to. Others will not.

If you have any doubts about the viability of the eggs, you can remove one at a time and candle it.  If a chick is inside then replace the egg, if not then discard the egg.

Not all eggs are fertile and even if fertilized, not all will hatch. If it’s been a week since the other ones in the clutch have hatched, I’d remove the eggs from under her (use leather gloves if you need to, she may be fierce) and let her get on with things.

Once she realizes that the eggs are gone (hatched) then she’ll get to the job of taking care of her chicks.

Anyone else have experience with broody hens not willing to leave the nest as long as eggs are there?


I write about lessons learned living with children and chickens in New Hampshire. You can follow our family’s stories at my blog: Lessons Learned From the Flock. 

Published on Jun 10, 2013

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