Are Buff Orpingtons Broody?

by Jodi Thornton O'Connell
Buff Orpingtons are known as excellent brooding hens.

Buff Orpingtons are known as excellent brooding hens.

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Buff Orpington hens have large, fluffy bodies, well-suited for hatching eggs and brooding chicks. These hens make supplemental devices unnecessary. Buff Orpingtons are among three breeds known for broodiness, which is the instinct to sit on a nest and raise chicks. You can expect a Buff Orpington hen to go broody at least once during the summer.

As days become longer and warmer during spring, egg production among chickens increases. A Buff Orpington will lay an egg nearly every day. If eggs aren't collected, a single Buff Orpington hen can sit on 16 to 20 eggs, often with multiple hens contributing to the clutch. Broody behavior is most common during May and June before temperatures become hot, and again in early autumn when temperatures begin to cool.

There will be little doubt when your hen is ready to sit on eggs for an extended period. She will not show up on her regular roost at night, remaining on the nest instead. Her feathers may be puffed up; she will sometimes pull feathers from her chest. She may lie flattened out with her neck outstretched and a glazed or entranced look in her eyes. Some hens become aggressive when approached.

If you want to hatch eggs under a broody Buff Orpington, you can encourage her by providing dark nest boxes lined with plenty of straw or other soft bedding. Place a few wooden eggs or golf balls in the nest to simulate a clutch of eggs. While you can provide conditions to promote broodiness, a hen will not go broody until she is ready, and a first-time brooder may sit on a nest for a only few days.

Some hens become "serial brooders," spending most of the summer sitting on an empty nest. A small wire cage can help bring your hen out of broody mode and get her back to laying eggs. The cage should allow air to pass freely underneath to reduce the hen's body temperature and thereby interrupt the brooding instinct. Make sure the hen has food and water in the cage, and leave her in there until she is actively seeking a way out instead of lying on the nest.

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    Author

    Jodi Thornton O'Connell has been an outdoorswoman for more than 45 years. She shares her love of adventure in columns for "Out-and-About Magazine," "Adam’s Rib," "Senior Christian Lifestyles," "Creede Magazine" and various websites.