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6 Reasons Broody Hens Abandon their Eggs

6 Reasons Chickens Abandon their Eggs

As a general rule, they do if they feel that the egg is not going to hatch. Broody Hens are the best mothers, but even they will abandon an egg if it has a cracked shell or is missing a vital part. 1) Leaving for food and water 2) Been Bred out of them 3) Hormonal Changes

Why do Broody Hens Abandon their Eggs

Why do Broody Hens Abandon their Eggs – Especially in modern-day chickens, Poultry Farming. There is this common phenomenon where mothers Hens tend to abandon their eggs after laying them. And while this has somehow remained a mystery to many as to why most hens do this, below are six separate reasons why hens, sometimes choose to abandon their eggs, and how you can discourage this habit in your poultry farm.

What is a Broody Hen

This is where a Mother Hen sits constantly on her eggs trying to hatch them. She is persistent and will not leave them until they hatch. She will continue even if eggs are unfertilized. She usually will leave them once a day to be able to eat and drink, but continues if her eggs will not hatch at all.

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Breeding it out of Them

Modern Chicken farming Methods, with the main emphasis on egg production, have literally bred the desire out of many chickens. Egg removal makes the need not there. If the Hen eggs never remain she will be being trained not to sit, actually not being able to sit.

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Hens are also very smart they seem to know when they have sat long enough, on unfertilized eggs, and will leave.

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broody hen abandoned eggs

Leaving for Food and Water

Just like in the case of humans, chickens sometimes do things for a reason. And one of the main reasons why a hen would abandon her eggs is because she might be having the urge to keep eating and drinking so that she won’t have to lose her body condition and, thus, be unable to reproduce more eggs for her clutch. Put differently, just like when a pregnant woman is given post-natal care, to help her fully recover the lost fluids and nutrients after childbirth, so do Chicken hens move away from their eggs, in search of food and water for replenishment.

Hen Mothering Instinct

Another reason why hens tend to move away from their eggs is that they know that, every egg they lay needs to start developing on the same day. And that, they can only achieve that when they’ve left the egg to be exposed to the environment’s temperature. 

A chicken’s egg only starts developing when it is exposed to a weather temperature of about 98 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 24 hours. Plus, an egg does not start forming a chick as soon as it’s laid, instead, do remain in a state of suspended animation, until the hen leaves it to be exposed to the weather temperature.

This way, all the hen’s chicks will begin developing when it settles down to sit on them, which will then cause the eggs to all grow at the same time. Often, all the chicks will hatch over a short period (usually less than 24 hours) and will be ready to venture out for food.

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hen abandoned hatching eggs

Can other Birds Lay Unfertilized eggs

There are many other types and breeds of birds can also lay unfertilized eggs. Actually all Birds can lay unfertilized eggs. Examples are

  • Ducks
  • Ostriches
  • Finch
  • Starlings
  • Parrots
  • Zebra Finches

Hormonal Changes

Another reason why chickens walk away from their eggs is that they suddenly get off their broody nature. This is a common feature in most modern hens, perhaps because they’ve somehow been raised to hate brooding their eggs, or as a result of hormonal changes. Whatever the case may be, a hen will most likely abandon her eggs when she gets that feeling of not being a mother at the moment. Generally, this happens to every hen at least once or twice in their lifetime, which then takes us to the next point.

You can also see this in many animal and bird species, even people. Hormones can become unbalanced and behavior can change.

Current Training

Most modern hens have been trained and conditioned to walk away from eggs, to benefit the owners commercially. And because this has become a common practice in most poultry these days, it also isn’t uncommon to find hens boldly walking away from the eggs they have laid without having second thoughts as the mother. However, this is only applicable to poultry farms that specialize in commercializing eggs.

Spoilt Eggs

A hen could choose to abandon her eggs because the remaining eggs are no good. From comments made by most farmers, this is sometimes the main reason why hens in poultry would often abandon their eggs. However, if your chicken happens to walk away from her eggs, don’t discard them; instead, break open the remaining eggs to see which ones are good or bad. 

And when you do this, you’ll most likely discover that while some are infertile eggs and sometimes embryos not far enough along to hatch within the standard 24 hour period, others may be good. This mix-up is often a result of the fact that hens do not have that “perfect mother” instinct whereby; they can’t differentiate between good and bad eggs. Once they sense that one or two of the eggs is bad, they are most likely going to abandon the entire eggs and walk away for good.

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hen abandoned eggs / how to hatch abandoned eggs

Why do Chickens Abandon their Eggs

Natures Instinct

Last but not least reason why hens sometimes abandon their eggs is because that is their nature. Just like no one taught them how to crow, or scratch the ground for foods, hens by nature choose to abandon their eggs for reasons best known to them. Perhaps that’s where their imperfect motherhood instinct comes to play, as sometimes, they could even harm their chicks when they feel it’s not theirs.

How To Prevent Chickens from Abandoning their Eggs

If you happen to own a poultry farm, and you’re looking for ways to discourage your hen from always abandoning her eggs, then you can do so by implementing the below techniques.


Isolation has been one of the most effective ways to encourage a hen to go back into her brooding nature. And this can be done by placing the hen guilty of always walking away from her eggs, in a separate and confined space, where she will always have to stay within the parameters of the eggs. Once you’re able to get her to lay the eggs in the tight space for more than once, it will leave her with no other option than to brood them until they hatch.

Curtains on Nesting Boxes

You can add Curtains, covers Strips of curtains so that she can go and come, but gives her more darkness and safety, and security.

Just by upping the quality of your Nesting boxes can encourage your chickens to want to sit more.

why do chickens bury their eggs

Providing Drink and Water

Another way that you can discourage your hen from always abandoning her eggs is by providing food and water in the same spot where she laid the eggs. Given that they often leave these eggs in search of replenishments from water and foods, providing it there for them will then coerce the hen to stay there with the eggs and brood them comfortably. 

Insects in Nesting Boxes

You can check your nesting boxes for any unwanted visitors that might be scaring her off the nest. Maybe access by mice, mites, insects, and fleas and ticks, might have invaded, their place of nesting.


Just as most owners train or condition their hen to despise brooding, you can also get your way round in encouraging them to return to their brooding nature. One of the ways to do this is by making sure you don’t allow the hen to leave her egg-laying spot, for at least more than 48 hours. Other than that, you can hire the services of an expert.

do chickens bury their eggs

Artificial Eggs / Dummy Eggs

You can encourage a Hen to go back to her mothering instincts by buying and artificial eggs and replacing them in her nest with the ones you have taken. This will encourage her to spend more time trying to hatch them.

In a nutshell, chickens abandon their eggs because of a plethora of reasons like food, hormonal imbalances, and so on. Nevertheless, if you choose to discourage them from this habit, you can get around that by using the above techniques. Cheers!

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Why do Chickens Abandon their Eggs

Selective in Choosing Breeds

Some Breeds have a natural tendency to have stronger Mothering instincts. Some of these Breeds, the more maternal breeds are thought to be

  • Bantam Breeds
  • Cochins
  • Orpingtons
  • Dorking
  • Brahmas
  • Sussex
  • Java
  • Silkies
  • Chanteclers
  • Fayoumis

Chicken / Poultry Breeder Associations

Rabbit AssociationLocationLink
US Poultry & Egg AssociationUnited StatesUSPA
American Poultry AssociationCaliforniaAPA
Ohio Poultry AssociationOhioOPA
National Chicken CouncilUnited StatesNCC
British Poultry CouncilUnited KingdomBPCE
Poultry Club of Great BritainUnited KingdomPCGB
Association of Poultry Breeders in EUEuropeAVEC
Australian Chicken Meat Federation IncAustraliaACMF
Australian Poultry HubAustraliaPoultry Hub
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