Why won't my chickens sit on their eggs?

by Bob
(Veneta, Oregon, USA)

Acquired 8 hens and 1 rooster. Rooster mounted hens regularly and hens laid eggs but none of the hens attempted to sit on the eggs.

Assumed the rooster was infertile and acquired a new rooster. The new rooster mounts hens daily but again, none of the hens show any inclination to brood the eggs. What are we doing wrong?

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May 18, 2011
Non-Brooding Chickens
by: Countryfarm Lifestyles

Without knowing the breed of chickens you are raising it is difficult to say exactly why your chickens are not sitting on their eggs and going broody after being mated. There are a number of possibilities though.

First of all some breeds of chickens are not good brooding hens. That is why many people keep a mixed flock, to compensate for those breeds that are not good brooders, and then use the broody hens to raise the other's eggs. Minorca and Leghorns are chicken breeds that are seldom broody. See my page on
Chicken Breeds for details.

Young pullets who have just started laying may not go broody for quite a while yet. In fact it will take 2-3 years before they are ready to sit on eggs and raise chicks of their own.

You don't say how old your rooster is. The older the rooster the more fertility problems he will have. You need at least 1 rooster for 6-8 hens. If you have more hens, you will need another rooster.

Are you leaving enough eggs in the nesting boxes? Many hens will not brood unless there are enough eggs for them in the nesting box. When she finally has her clutch number she will brood on the eggs. Placing false eggs in the nesting box is another way of encouraging brooding.

I would also check your eggs and make sure that they are well-formed. If not, you will have to revisit what it is you are feeding them and make any adjustments needed to supplying them with a balanced diet.

Hens need to be willing to brood. If all is well with their health and diet, then they might just need a little encouragement.

A simple trick, so I am told, is to record the chirping of new chicks and play it in the barn for the hens on a continuous basis. Although I have never tried it, apparently it stirs the hens into action, and makes them broody in no time. Anyway, seeing as you are having such trouble it is worth a try.

Let me know how it goes!

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