Wondering; what time of year do hens go broody? Hens can go broody at any time of the year. Going broody and sitting on eggs to incubate them isn’t tied to the time of the year, there are other factors that trigger broody behavior.
The biggest factor that determines when and how often a hen will go broody is the breed of chicken.
There are some exceptions, of course. Chickens have their own personalities to a certain extent, but broodiness is something you should consider before choosing a breed to raise.
The other main factor that triggers broodiness is having a clutch of eggs to sit on. If you simply stop collecting eggs daily, a hen will usually get to the point where she instinctively needs to sit on them to incubate them.
Having a broody hen on your hands can either be a blessing or a nightmare. Here’s a look at some of the other things you need to know about what makes a hen go broody, and how to deal with them:
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What Is a 'Broody' Hen?
A broody hen is a hen that starts sitting on her eggs with the goal of incubating them and having them hatch into chicks.
When a hen goes broody, she starts acting totally different from normal. Hormones and motherly instinct take over, and it's not as simple it's just moving her eggs and having her snap out of it.
Broody hens will sit on eggs around the clock, only popping off briefly to have something to eat and drink, and take a toilet break.
This can cause some serious problems if her eggs are not fertilized. Hens do not know when eggs are or are not fertilized, and will sit on them to the point of being a detriment to their health
Unless you want a hen to hatch her eggs, having a hen go broody is something you should try and avoid at all costs.
What Time of Year Do Hens Go Broody?
Some animals and even some birds have mating Seasons. In fact, peacocks have mating cycles between March and August which is when the peahens will go broody.
For chickens, however, broodiness is not triggered by the time of the year. Whether a hen goes broody or not is more down to the breed of chicken and if she has a collection of eggs to sit on.
That said, hens are more likely to go broody during spring and summer as these are their peak egg-laying seasons.
Likewise, seeing as most breeds stop laying throughout the winter when there's a shortage of daylight, you can say that they're less likely to go broody during the winter.
At What Age Do Hens Go Broody?
Hens are able to go broody as soon as they're able to lay eggs. Most breeds start laying eggs between five and eight months of age.
In my experience, it's far less likely in the first few months after a chicken starts laying eggs. But it's certainly possible, so keep that in mind and keep collecting those eggs.
How Do You Encourage a Hen to Go Broody?
While most backyard chicken owners want to discourage their hens from going broody, I appreciate there are times when you may want a broody chicken to hatch some chicks.
More often than not, you should just have to leave a hen's eggs alone. When she's built up a clutch of 8-12 eggs, she should sit on them.
As I mentioned earlier, however, some breeds are far less likely to go broody than others and may need a little help.
Because you don’t want to spoil eggs, a common tactic to help stimulate broodiness is to put some artificial eggs in a hen’s nest to give her the feeling of having a clutch of eggs and see if she sits on them.
If she does, you can slip some real eggs underneath her and she’ll be none the wiser. Seeing a mother hen incubating eggs is quite the miracle, I do recommend you experience it at least once if you can.
She plucks feathers out from around aside so her skin can keep the eggs warmer. And she’ll turn them from time to time to ensure the embryo doesn’t get stuck.
It takes 21 days for an egg to hatch, and typically you'll start to see a chick ‘pipping’ its way out from around day 18.
How Many Times a Year Will a Hen Go Broody?
Going through a period of broodiness takes quite a toll on a hen both physically and mentally. It’s not something they can snap in and out of quickly.
It can take a few weeks for a hen to go broody, obviously, it takes 3 weeks for eggs to hatch, and it can take a few weeks for a hen to fully recover from the process.
I did some research into how many times a year hens can go broody, and the most I could find was accounts from owners that said they had hens that have gone broody around 5 or 6 times in a year.
Can a Hen Go Broody In Winter?
A hen can go broody during winter, yes. The reason it's so unlikely to happen naturally is that hens lay a lot fewer eggs during winter, and often none at all.
You can still encourage a hen to go broody by giving them a clutch of eggs to sit on though. Just make sure you provide everything they need, such as a nest, somewhere quiet, and plenty of food and water close by.
Whether you want one of your hens to go broody or you're trying to avoid it, you now know that broodiness is not tied to a time of the year.
Hens most likely to go broody are breeds that are known to be prone to going broody, and if they build up a clutch of eggs in their nest.
For some chickens, it will just trigger an automatic hormonal response and they’ll feel the need to sit on their eggs and incubate them.
Image credits - Photo by K Kannan on Unsplash