I’ve heard people talk about them, but what exactly is a broody hen? And why wouldn’t I want one?

Broody simply means that your hen’s biological clock is ticking and she’s giving in to the call of nature to sit on her little eggs and hatch some chicks! In people that raise chickens to sell their eggs, this can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it and deal with the situation.

You can tell a broody hen by her behavior. She’ll start to act funny, maybe snappish. She may peck at the other hens for no reason. More often than not, though, you’ll notice that she’s sitting on her clutch of eggs and might puff up or try to peck you if you go near them.

So what to do? Well, you really have two options: you can try to break the hormone-induced broody behavior or you can go with the natural flow of things and use it to your benefit.

You can set up a cage with a wire floor and separate her from the flock until her broodiness goes away if you go that route. Or if you’re going the other way, you can either mail order some fertilized eggs (if you don’t have roosters) or mate her so she’ll make a new generation of chicks. Once her chicks hatch and get old enough to leave the nest she’ll generally start laying again but she may be down for the season or a good portion of it.

What is a dual-breed chicken?

A dual-breed chicken is a chicken that is both good for meat and good for laying eggs. This doesn’t mean that meat birds don’t also lay eggs, they just aren’t as good at laying eggs as dedicated egg birds.