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11 Best Chicken Breeds for Broodiness

best chicken breeds for broodiness

Have you ever had a chicken go “broody?” Broodiness is a natural, maternal instinct that causes a hen to want to sit on a clutch of eggs to hatch them.

This motherly desire is triggered by the temperature, humidity, and length of the day, and can happen at any time during the laying cycle.

Let’s take a closer look at broodiness in chickens so you can be prepared if one of your hens decides to go broody on you.

We’ll also give you some helpful information about the best chicken breeds for broodiness so you can find the right breed for your sustainable backyard flock.

Best Chicken Breeds for Broodiness: But First, What is Broodiness?

For chicken enthusiasts and first-time chicken owners alike, broodiness is a total mystery. What is it? Why do chickens go through it?

Broodiness is the urge for a hen to sit on eggs to hatch them. This maternal instinct is strong in some hens and barely exists in others.

However, any hen can become broody under the right circumstances (more on that later).

When a hen goes broody, she will stop laying eggs, stop socializing with the other chickens, and will spend most of her time sitting on the nest—even if there are no eggs for her to sit on!

This behavior can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

There are several telltale signs that your hen is broody and wants to set on a nest of eggs. She will stop laying eggs and instead spend all her time sitting in the nest.

She may even become aggressive if you try to move her off the nest. Her feathers will become fluffed up and she will tuck her head underneath her wing as if she is trying to incubate her eggs.

If your hen is displaying these behaviors, it’s best to let her set on the eggs. She will need a quiet, dark place to do this, so you may need to move her into a separate coop or pen.

You should also make sure she has access to food and water so she doesn’t get too dehydrated or malnutritioned.

However, don’t worry—she won’t eat or drink very much while she’s brooding.

It takes about 21 days for a chicken to hatch its eggs. The hen will turn the eggs several times a day so they are evenly warmed, and will leave the nest only briefly each day to eat and drink.

Otherwise, she will remain in the nest until the chicks are ready to hatch.

What Breed of Chicken Goes Broody the Most?

You’ve been raising chickens for a while now, and you’ve been waiting for the day when one of your hens would go broody.

Broody chickens are great for incubating eggs, and it would be a real help to have your own home-grown supply of chicks.

But so far, none of your chickens seem interested in sitting on a nest of eggs. What gives?

Luckily, there’s an easy answer to this question. While all chicken breeds are capable of going broody, some breeds are much more likely to do so than others.

Here are some of the broodiest chicken breeds for your backyard flock.

Light Brahma foraging

1. Brahmas

Brahmas are large chickens that were originally bred in India and China. They are known for being good layers of brown eggs, and they are also one of the most broody chicken breeds.

Brahmas will often go broody multiple times per year, and they make great mothers. If you’re looking for a chicken breed that is friendly and low-maintenance, Brahma chickens are a good choice.

Light Sussex

2. Sussex

Sussex chickens are dual-purpose chickens that originate from Sussex, England.

They were developed in the 1930s by crossing several different chicken breeds, including Rhode Island Reds, New Hampshire Reds, and Plymouth Rocks.

Sussex chickens are known for their good egg-laying abilities, as well as their friendliness and docile nature. Sussex chickens will go broody from time to time, but not as often as some other chicken breeds.

Best chicken breeds for broodiness: Cochin

3. Cochins

Cochins are large, fluffy chickens that originate from China. They come in a variety of colors, including black, white, blue, buff, partridge, and silver laced.

Cochin chickens are friendly birds that get along well with people and other animals. They make good pets and backyard chickens since they don’t mind being handled by humans.

Cochin chickens go broody fairly often, so if you’re looking for a motherly chicken breed, they could be a good choice.

Best chickens for broodiness- Silkie Bantam

4. Silkies

Silkies are small chicken breeds that originated in Asia. They are known for their long feathers which give them a “silky” appearance (hence their name).

Silkies are gentle birds that make great backyard pets since they enjoy being around humans and other animals.

Silkies also go broody quite often, so if you’re hoping to hatch your own eggs, this may be the breed for you!

As an added bonus, Silkie hens make great soup!

Not into eating your backyard pets? Many people believe Silkie feathers have therapeutic qualities and use them in pillow fillings or crafts such as dream catchers!

However you choose to use them, these little feather balls have incredible value!

cubalaya chickens for broodiness

5. Cubalaya

The Cubalaya chicken breed is known for being good mothers and going broody often.

Aside from being popular on the exhibition floor, these ornamental birds are also good layers of brown eggs.

Best chicken breeds for broodiness- Buff Orpington

6. Orpington

Another common broodier, the Orpington is a large chicken that comes in many colors.

This plump and beautifully feathered breed makes great pets, and they lay medium-sized brown eggs.

Chantecler chicken

7. Chantecler

The Chantecler is a winter-hardy bird that was developed in Canada.

They come in both white and partridge color varieties and make good layers of brown eggs.

dorking chicken

8. Dorking

Dorkings are an old English breed that comes in several varieties including White, Silver-Gray, Red, and Blue-Gray Dorkings.

They make excellent mothers and lay white or tinted eggs.

Black Copper Marans Roaming

9. Marans

Marans are a French breed that is known for laying extra dark brown eggs. They rarely go broody, but when they do, they make great mothers.

With that said, they’ve definitely earned a spot in the list of best chicken breeds for broodiness.

Icelandic Chickens

10. Icelandics

Icelandics are a hardy breed that was developed in Iceland (hence the name).

They come in many colors and patterns and make good layers of small to medium-sized white eggs.

Dominique Winter Chicken

11. Dominique

Last but not least on our list of best chicken breeds for broodiness, the Dominique is an American breed that was developed in New England in the 18th century.

They come in both barred and clear-colored varieties and make good layers of brown eggs.

What Chickens are the Least Broody?

Broody chickens are hens that stop laying eggs and instead sit on a nest in an effort to hatch them.

While this behavior may be charming to some, it’s not so great for farmers whose primary goal is to produce eggs.

Now that you know the best chicken breeds for broodiness, it pays to also know the chickens that are least broody:

Orloff

Orloff chickens are an old Russian breed that was developed specifically for their non-brooding tendencies. Orloffs are good layers of brown eggs and make excellent meat birds.

Unfortunately, they can be aggressive towards other poultry, so they’re not the best choice if you have a mixed flock.

Leghorn

Leghorns are perhaps the most well-known breed on this list. Leghorns are incredibly active birds that love to forage; they’re also prolific layers of white eggs.

While they’re not the best choice if you’re looking for a friendly chicken, their high level of egg production more than makes up for it.

Just be aware that leghorns can be delicate, so handle them with care.

Ancona

Ancona chickens are an Italian breed that’s known for being hardy and disease-resistant. Anconas are good layers of white eggs and make great pets.

They’re also one of the few chicken breeds that does well in both hot and cold climates. However, Anconas can be skittish, so make sure to handle them with care.

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock chickens are an American classic for a reason; they’re good layers of brown eggs, are disease-resistant, and are relatively calm compared to other chicken breeds.

The Plymouth Rocks make great pets and do well in both hot and cold climates.

Broody Hen With Her Chicks

What Chickens Make Good Mothers?

When it comes to choosing a chicken to be a good mother, there are a few key characteristics you should look for.

Does the breed typically go broody? Do they have a strong maternal instinct? Are they good at caring for their chicks?

Often, the same chicken breeds that are known for going broody also make fantastic mothers. They are as follows:

  1. Orpington Chickens
  2. Rhode Island Red Chickens
  3. Plymouth Rock Chickens
  4. Sussex Chickens
  5. Wyandotte Chickens

These best chicken breeds for broodiness are a great choice if you’re looking for a chicken that will be a good mother. They are known for being broody and have a strong maternal instinct.

They are also good at caring for their chicks, which makes them an ideal choice if you’re looking for a chicken to be a good mother.

These ladies tend to go broody often and have very strong maternal instincts. When it comes to taking care of their chicks, they excel at making sure their little ones have everything they need including food, water, and warmth.

If you want peace of mind knowing your chicks will be well taken care of, these chicken breeds should definitely be high on your list of potential candidates!

How to Encourage Broodiness in Your Flock

Broodiness is a natural instinct for hens, and it’s something that’s beneficial for both the hen and the farmer.

When a hen goes broody, she stops laying eggs and instead focuses all her energy on incubating and raising her chicks.

This is great for the farmer because it means one less egg-laying hen in the flock (although you will need to purchase fertile eggs if you want chicks), and it’s also good for the hen because it gives her a natural sense of purpose.

Give Her the Right Environment

One common reason why hens don’t go broody is that they don’t have a private place to nest.

If your hens are constantly being disturbed or if their nests are in full view of other animals (including other chickens), they may not want to sit on a nest of eggs.

To encourage your hens to go broody, try giving them their own private nesting box where they can lay their eggs in peace.

A dim, secluded spot is ideal, as hens feel safest when they’re out of sight and out of mind.

If possible, create a dedicated broody coop or section in your chicken coop where hens can go to nest undisturbed.

This will give them a place to escape from the hustle and bustle of chicken life and increase their chances of successfully going broody.

Give Hens Plenty of Nesting Material

Hens love to nest in soft, fluffy material, so make sure their nesting boxes are filled with plenty of straw, hay, or even shredded paper.

The more material they have to nest with, the happier they’ll be—and the more likely they are to go broody.

Keep Egg Production Low

If you want to encourage broodiness, it’s important to keep your hens’ egg production low.

This means giving them fewer hours of light per day (14-16 hours is ideal) and providing them with plenty of food and water so they don’t become stressed or overworked.

By keeping egg production low, you’ll give your hens the rest they need—and increase the chances that they’ll go broody when they’re ready.

Use Fake Eggs

You can also try putting fake eggs in the nesting box. Many hens will instinctively start sitting on them in an effort to incubate them.

incubate chicken eggs

Alternatives to Hatching Eggs with a Broody Hen

For anyone who keeps backyard chickens, hatching eggs is a fun and rewarding experience. But not everyone has a broody hen available, and that’s OK!

Here are some alternative methods for hatching eggs that don’t require a sitting hen.

1. Incubating Eggs Commercially

If you don’t have a broody hen and don’t want to go through the hassle of incubating eggs yourself, there are commercial services that will do it for you and allow you to just buy the chick after it has hatched.

This is a great option if you only want to hatch a few eggs or if you don’t want to invest in an incubator.

2. Using an Egg Incubator

An egg incubator is a safe and reliable way to hatch eggs without using a broody hen.

Incubators are available in different sizes and with different features, so you’ll need to do some research to find the best one for your needs.

But once you have your incubator set up, it’s pretty easy to use—just add your eggs and let the machine do its job!

3. Hatching Eggs Under a Heat Lamp

If you don’t want to invest in an incubator, you can create a makeshift incubation setup using a heat lamp.

This method takes a bit more effort than using an incubator, but it can be done for relatively little cost.

Just be sure to follow all the safety precautions when using electrical equipment near eggs!

Best Chicken Breeds for Broodiness: Final Thoughts

There are many different chicken breeds that make good mothers and are prone to going broody, but some are better than others.

Brahma chickens, Cochin chickens, Orpington chickens, Plymouth Rock chickens, and Sussex chicks all make excellent setters and broody hens.

Choose the best breed for you based on your needs and preferences. Thanks for reading!

READ NEXT: The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Hatching Eggs

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