If you are breeding chickens deliberately, or are just raising a mixed flock of hens and roosters, you will probably encounter a broody hen from time to time.
But more than this, some hens seem to get downright hostile, hissing, clucking, and raising a racket even when there are no eggs in her box.
Is this behavior associated with all hens or just broody ones? Do broody hens make a lot of noise?
Yes, broody hens will typically make more noise than usual. Brooding hens will hiss at people and other chickens that come close, and will cluck and call more often when on or off their nest.
Broody hens are noisy alright, and can be troublesome depending on what you need from your flock. You can learn more about broody hens and all the noises they make below.
What is a Broody Hen?
A broody hen is a chicken that has the urge to hatch her eggs. This maternal instinct is triggered by the presence of eggs, and it causes the hen to sit on the eggs to keep them warm and protected.
Broody hens will stop laying eggs and are likely to become aggressive when approached or disturbed.
While some chicken owners consider broodiness to be a nuisance, others encourage it, as it can be a convenient way to hatch eggs naturally without using an incubator.
Why Do Hens Become Broody?
It is hard to pinpoint the “trigger” of broodiness in an individual hen. Some hens trend toward broodiness while others rarely, if ever, do.
Sometimes, seasonal changes or aging might make a hen suddenly go broody. And of course, there are breeds of chicken that seem more predisposed to broodiness.
There is evidence to suggest that the length of the day has an effect on broodiness. In artificial light conditions, hens may go broody more frequently or for longer periods of time.
In natural light conditions, hens are more likely to go broody in the spring and summer when the days are longest and less often in the fall and winter.
The hormones in a hen’s body will also influence how broody she is. If she is producing less of the hormone prolactin, she will be less likely to go broody.
Prolactin is responsible for milk production in mammals, but in birds, it also plays a role in egg-laying and broodiness. So, if a hen is not laying many eggs, she may be more inclined to go broody.
And there is also evidence to suggest that a hen with multiple eggs in the nest is more likely to brood on them. This is a good reason to stay on top of egg collection if you are taking the eggs!
What are the Signs a Hen is Broody?
Broody hens typically go through a cycle of sitting on the eggs for about three weeks, during which time they will only leave the nest to eat and drink and periodically rearrange the eggs, rolling them over.
During this time, a broody hen will become increasingly aggressive. If you approach her nest, she will puff up, shield her nest, and may hiss and even attack you.
Most owners who have encountered a broody hen before have been on the receiving end of a nasty peck or bite, just ask them!
Whether or not there are people or other chickens around, she is likely to be extra vocal in her efforts to let everyone know she is on the nest, so to speak.
Why Do Broody Hens Make Noise?
Hens that are intent on hatching eggs make noise regularly. The hissing and clucking sounds a broody hen makes are meant to be intimidating.
It is surmised that this is done in an effort to scare off potential predators or any kind of perceived threats to her eggs, even flockmates.
Keep in mind that chickens do sometimes engage in egg cannibalism, so she has reason to be wary! And, not to mention, the tall, two-legged critter that regularly takes eggs from her all the other times…
In addition, a broody hen will often make what is described as a purring or snoring sound when she is contentedly sitting on her nest. This is normal behavior for a broody hen, and is nothing to be concerned about.
Broody Hens Make Noise On or Off the Box!
Brooding hens don’t just snarl at intruders or purr in happiness. They make more noise whether they are on the nest or not.
A broody hen is likely to be more vocal when moving around normally.
This means she will cluck more often, screech, and generally be louder and more insistent than usual. She may also crow or make other rooster-like sounds.
All of this is part of her effort to protect her eggs and chicks, and make her presence known to you and the rest of the flock.
Is There Anything You Can Do About a Noisy Broody?
Not really. Though there are techniques you can try for “breaking” a broody hen of her behavior, a broody hen will or will not make a lot more noise depending on her individual temperament.
If you have a broody hen and don’t want to try breaking her, the best thing to do is just let her be and provide her with everything she needs to be successful.
This includes a clean, comfortable nest box filled with fresh straw or other bedding material, and plenty of food and water.
She will likely take very good care of her eggs on her own, and after they have hatched she should settle down.
How Long Will a Hen Stay Broody?
The length of time a hen will stay broody can vary quite a bit. Some hens will go broody several times in one season, while others may only do it once every so often. And some hens will stay broody even for months at a time, basically perpetually!
As long as she is broody, you can expect her bad behavior and noisiness to continue.
Can Broody Hens Hatch Other Bird’s Eggs?
Yes! In fact, some owners rely on their broodiest girls as surrogate mothers for duck and even goose eggs.
These motivated mamas just want to hatch eggs, that is all they care about, and you can get some use out of them in this way.
Provided the eggs are similar in size, a broody hen can successfully hatch and care for ducklings or goslings as her own.
This is a great way to get started with waterfowl if you have never kept them before, or to take care of orphaned eggs.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.