Although they are not good brooders, in our experience, White Leghorns do go broody, especially in warm weather.
Although broodiness depends on the individual bird, this chicken breed does not typically hatch eggs.
But it will sit on the nest and puff up and growl when you gather eggs, just like any other broody hen in your backyard flock.
For the most part, White Leghorn chickens have had the broodiness bred out of them in favor of steady, prolific egg production. Some hens go broody but usually will not hatch eggs and nurture the chicks.
You often have to “break” the Leghorn chicken of broodiness as it is not healthy for the hen to sit too long.
To find out more about Leghorn chickens and broodiness, keep reading!
Raising Leghorns from Eggs
The best-known Leghorn chicken is the white Leghorn.
These chickens are the workhorses of the egg industry and lay 5-6 eggs per week, making them a favorite among backyard chicken keepers.
Leghorns do not make good lap chickens as they are very independent chickens.
But with some care in raising will make good pet chickens or members of a mixed flock.
They are beautiful birds with floppy combs and snowy white feathers.
Raising Leghorns from eggs typically requires the human intervention of using an incubator to hatch them.
Or slip the fertilized eggs or newly hatched chicks under a broody Silkie or another more maternal breed.
Incubators and Brooders
To hatch fertilized Leghorn eggs (this requires the presence of a rooster, remember), chicken owners collect the eggs and put them in an incubator within 10 days; the sooner, the better.
We used an incubator like this one found on Amazon when we hatched eggs.
We also raised them in a homemade brooder until the chicks were feathered enough to go outside in their little coop and run.
Our brooder consisted of a tall plastic tote with holes drilled in the top and sides for ventilation and safety from the cat.
But many people just use a cardboard box.
Chicks need water, food, and warmth.
The brooder should also be easy to clean.
Because we ran an electrical line out to the coop, we could put the chicks out in their coop with a brooder plate at only a few weeks old.
Otherwise, you will be able to put them out when they are fully feathered out and have them join the larger hens when they are a few months old and big enough not to be picked on.
Hatching Under a Hen
Some broody breeds, such as silkies or buff Orpingtons, will hatch other hens’ eggs just fine and take care of the baby chicks as if they were their own.
Going broody depends on lighting, temperature, hormones, and instinct.
Most chicken keepers recommend you place the marked, fertilized eggs under the broody hen at night, totaling a dozen eggs or so.
Do not give eggs to a hen who has been broody for longer than a week, as she will probably not sit on them long enough to hatch them.
Place hatched chicks from the incubator under a hen with a strong mothering instinct, but again, your best bet is to place them under her at night.
Breaking a Broody Hen
Breaking a hen of broodiness is challenging but necessary when you do not have a rooster or do not want to hatch eggs.
It is important to break hens of broody behavior.
They aren’t hatching eggs and will sit on the nest for an excessive amount of time, leaving the nest infrequently to eat and poop.
Related Reading: Leghorn Chicken Diet and Food Options
The hen’s nutrition and health will suffer the longer she sits.
It interferes with egg production, which is why you have prolific layers in the first place.
It is easy to tell a hen is going broody because she will have the “broody stare,” pull feathers from her own breast to line her nest, refuse to get off the nest, and develop the broody poop, which is particularly large and thick.
Broody hens puff their feathers up, fan their tails to look intimidating, grumble and growl at you, and even peck at you when you gather their eggs.
Further Reading: Leghorn aggression and personality
First, remove the hen from the nest, take her eggs, and put her with the other hens in the chicken yard.
Repeat this as often as necessary.
Remove the nest, block off the desired spot, and remove nesting materials, so she doesn’t just rebuild it.
Place a frozen bottle under her or dunk her belly in cool water to lower her temperature, as broody hens’ temperatures are even higher to incubate eggs, and it is thought temperature reduction will signal her body to stop.
Some chicken owners even slip ice cubes under the hen.
As a last resort, put her in “chicken jail,” a cage set up to have a draft on her abdomen, making it uncomfortable to sit and nest.
If all else fails, give up and give her some fertile eggs to foster and get out of her broodiness!
Conversely, you may want to encourage a hen to go broody to increase your flock of chickens.
Make sure secure, attractive, dark nesting places in the chicken coop are available, and there is plenty of nesting material.
Using artificial eggs or golf balls in the nesting box for an extended period can encourage broodiness and trigger incubation.
Some breeds of chicken are more known for broody instincts than others, such as Silkies or Cochins.
Sometimes when one hen goes broody, it “catches on,” and the other hens will too.
What Breeds of Chickens Get Broody?
Of the standard size breeds, Cochins, Buff Orpingtons, dark Cornish, Buff Rocks, and light Brahmas tend towards broodiness.
Many backyard chicken breeders also swear by the mothering instincts of Silkies.
Silkies are bantam-size chickens and cannot hatch a full clutch of standard-size eggs, but they’ll do their darnedest!
It does depend a lot on the individual hen’s characteristics as to whether or not she’ll go broody.
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