Broody Tilly

June 9, 2012

Before I left for the West Coast, I had noticed that Tilly had been spending an awful lot of time in the nesting boxes.  A few days prior, she did have that egg that kept her in the nesting box for a spell.  The thought had crossed my mind that she might be broody.  However, still laying eggs, she seemed to be lingering; savoring the entire egg laying process.

Well upon my return, it was confirmed.   Tilly is definitely broody.  She has all the signs of a broody hen.  She has ripped out the feathers on her breast.  She spends all day in the nesting box.  She “poofs” up when I open the boxes and she has been practicing her growl.  When she comes out in the morning she does a huge broody poop and then she walks around a bit aimlessly clucking quickly, quietly and lowly.  She is practicing calling to her little chicks.  She has little ones on her mind.

Tilly is now over two years old and this is the first time that she has gone broody.  Actually, I was a bit surprised as I never would have expected Tilly to be broody.   Tilly is our head hen.  She is tough and runs the ship.   I guess I just figured that she would always chose leadership over chicks.  For the past week, she has relinquished her title and sits patient and vulnerable in the box on the right.  No one dares to disturb her.  Even our little Silkie Fifi who has decided to join Tilly in the broody party quickly peeks around the corner to catch a glimpse of our newest broody hen.  Surely the Silkies are confused.  We have never had a big broody chicken.

Motherhood comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes and situations.  Some women, like the Silkies, dream of having babies right away.  They can’t wait to have children.  Most of my Silkies have been broody starting around the age of 7 months.  They spend most of their lives thinking about raising chicks and being broody. In fact, I am almost convinced that this is their main purpose in the chicken world!  Yet, others prefer to wait until they are older, accomplished and “ready” to have children.  This is Tilly.

For some, the instinct of motherhood never kicks in, but for most, it becomes a drive- an instinct to raise, nurture and love a being that is comprised of half of us.  It consumes us when we are awaiting for the arrival of the little ones.  We are dedicated at all hours of the night.  We are compassionate to the little ones and protective.  We would give our lives for them to keep theirs.  It is a deep new kind of love that can only be experienced with children.

Motherhood is always full of surprises. The most fascinating thing is that you never know when the “urge” will engulf you.  I guess, I should never discount the desire to be a mother from any female no matter what the situation or age, even from a chicken named Tilly.

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest


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14 thoughts on “Broody Tilly”

  1. Hmmm yes I agree, but not just about your Tilly. I think also you have in mind "we", "us" the female gender. Your last paragraphs encompass my thoughts as a mother. I think you hit the nail on the head.

    @ 3Beeze Homestead

  2. Aww, Tilly, being Head Hen may have meant that you didn't have enough time to be broody, but when Mother Nature lets you know it's time, you have to drop everything and prepare for motherhood! You would make a wonderful mother, I just know.

  3. Our Orpington went broody for the first time about a month ago and I hated that she spent all her time in the coop, rather than outside enjoying the beautiful spring weather, especially knowing her labor would yield no fruits (no rooster here)! I kept lifting her out of the coop and she kept running right back in. There's just no overcoming nature!

    • We are roo-less too! Like you, we will just wait for nature to run its course. I cleaned the coop today and she was not happy being away from her box 😮

  4. I love this post! Thank you for sharing.

    Broodiness is such a fascinating aspect of chicken ownership. I was surprised the first time we had a chicken go broody — I love their growls when you open the nesting box. Luckily all of ours are just vocal and don't try to peck at us if we pick them up.

    • Thanks! My husband thought that they were mad at him because I was away and he was taking care of them. We had quite a laugh when I explained that they were just broody!

  5. Hi!

    I love reading about broody hens! My silkie went broody early spring and we gave her fertilized silkie eggs. We now have 4 beautiful 8 week old silkies running around. But guess what? She is already broody again. Poor girl. She sits in her nesting box, and her 4 (not so) little ones climb up and pile on top of her! She tried to shake them, but to no avail! Dianne B.

  6. Wow… what a heartfelt post. So appropriate for my stage of life as well… I am a brooding "chicken"… can't think of anything else but the desire to be a mom again. I sympathize with Tilly & hope both of us snap out of it soon. Thank you for the post.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.