8 Best Broody Chicken Breeds (with Pictures)

If you’re planning to grow your family of chickens naturally, then getting a broody hen is for you. Broody hens are the key to having a sustainable flock. Choosing a good mother chicken that is willing to incubate her eggs naturally is quite tricky. There is no guarantee that your hen will warm her eggs up to full term. Some may even abandon them in the middle of the brooding season. 

The instinct to go broody has been bred out of several chickens due to its perceived undesirable quality. This practice is in favor of most commercial poultry farms that raise chickens for robust egg productivity. 

However, there is hope. There are some breeds that you can rely on to be exceptional mama hens than others. So, if you’re planning on following nature’s path when it comes to breeding, you can try raising these notable broody hens. 

1. Sussex Chicken

broody chicken breeds Sussex Chicken

History

  • Bred in England
  • Almost went extinct in the 1800s
  • Listed as “Recovering” in the Livestock Conservancy

Physical Characteristics

  • Type – Dual Purpose
  • Weight – 7 lbs
  • Color – Light, Red, Brown, Buff, Speckled, Coronation, White, and Silver
  • Comb – Single

Eggs/Laying

  • Color – Brown
  • Size – Large
  • Laying Ability – 4 to 5 eggs per week
  • Broodiness – Good Setter

Temperament / Behaviour

  • Hardiness – Cold hardy
  • Temperament – Docile and friendly, Excellent meat bird, Good forager

broody hen breeds

Sussex hens are reliable layers. You can count on them to provide you with consistent eggs and raise their chicks well, even during wintertime.

These wonderful mothers are naturally curious, docile, and friendly, making them a delight to raise. Keep in mind that they are not aggressive and could not effectively fend for themselves. So, it would be best to separate them from other pushy breeds to prevent them from being bullied. 

The unique plumage of the Speckled variety is an effective camouflage against predators. This trait makes them perfect for free-ranging. They are also excellent foragers, which makes raising them easy on the pocket. 

This all-around hardy bird can thrive in all kinds of climates, especially the cold ones. They can tolerate hot summer months as long as they have access to cold water and shady spots where they can cool down. 

 

2. Cochins

most broody chicken breeds

History

  • Arrived in the US and Britain in the 1800s from China
  • Developed as bantams

Physical Characteristics

  • Type – Dual Purpose
  • Weight – Up to 11 lbs
  • Color – Partridge, cuckoo, buff, white, black, and blue
  • Comb – Serrated single comb

Eggs/Laying

  • Color – Brown
  • Size – Medium
  • Laying Ability – 2 eggs  per week
  • Broodiness – Good Setter

Temperament / Behaviour

  • Hardiness – Cold hardy
  • Temperament – Docile and friendly, Good meat bird, Good forager

most broody chicken breeds cochin

Cochins may not be excellent egg producers, but they are excellent brooders and great mothers. They can hatch multiple batches of chicks in a year, so you can grow your flock as fast as you want. However, during the colder months, they may stop being nurturing mama hens earlier than usual. 

The Cochin is a breed that originated from China and was imported to Europe during Queen Victoria’s reign. They have massive and fluffy plumage that reaches their legs, making them appear bigger than they are. 

This breed is easy to handle due to its friendly and docile nature. They are perfect for homes with small children. Their kindheartedness extends to other breeds as they could also go broody on eggs of different breeds and species (including turkeys and ducks!)

These lovable birds are also contented being in a coop with a sizeable run. However, you have to be careful not to overfeed them. They tend to gain a lot of weight due to inactivity and their love for treats. 

 

3. Orpington

best brooder chickens

History

  • Bred in Orpington, Southeast England in the late 19th century
  • Created by William cook initially for egg and meat production

Physical Characteristics

  • Type – Dual Purpose
  • Weight – 8 lbs
  • Color – Buff, Blue, Black, and white
  • Comb – Single, five-point combe

Eggs/Laying

  • Color – Brown
  • Size – Large
  • Laying Ability – 3 to 5 eggs per week
  • Broodiness – Good Setter

Temperament / Behaviour

  • Hardiness – Cold hardy
  • Temperament – Fun and friendly, Good meat bird, Not a good forager

broody chicken breeds Orpington

Orpingtons are exceptional mother hens known for their docile and sweet nature. They would make a great addition to any backyard flock and can thrive even in small spaces. These exceptional layers are cold-hardy and would often be in a broody mood. 

This dual-purpose breed has loose, fluffy feathers that give the impression that they are heavier than their actual age. Their name comes from the location where it was bred- in Orpington, a place near London. 

These lovely birds have a sweet and gentle disposition, so they are great for families with small children. They are so friendly that they welcome any eggs that their keepers place under them. 

The Orpington can tolerate any confinement, strange noises, and frequent handling well. These qualities make them a favorite for class projects and poultry shows. They are relatively low maintenance but would rely on feeders more rather than forage their food. 

 

4. Dorking

best broody chicken breeds

History

  • Brought into Britain by the Romans
  • One of the oldest chicken breeds

Physical Characteristics

  • Type – Dual Purpose
  • Weight – 7 lbs
  • Color – Dark, Red, Silver, White, Cuckoo
  • Comb – very large

Eggs/Laying

  • Color – white
  • Size – medium
  • Laying Ability – 2 to 4 eggs in a week
  • Broodiness – Excellent setter

Temperament / Behaviour

  • Hardiness – Not very cold hardy
  • Temperament – Affectionate and friendly, Has five toes, Good foragers

best brooding chickens

The Dorking is a rare chicken breed that is known for its broody tendencies and decent laying abilities. They are an affectionate bunch and are exceptional mothers. 

Their mother’s instincts spread to other babies of the flock. They can take care of chicks even if they are not her own. You can find them mothering their clutches longer than other birds in the coop.

This breed is known to be one of the oldest since it dates back to 43 AD. However, it is now considered endangered. Its scarcity can be due to the commercialization of the poultry industry. Breeders are now more concerned about raising faster-growing chickens more than broody ones.

It would be a great idea to start raising these broody hens in one’s backyard to continue the legacy of this breed. Expect their incubating ability to peak in their second year as their mothering abilities improve as they age. They can go broody once or twice a year.

Dorkings are short and plump and were bred for egg and meat production. They are known to be great producers of juicy breast and leg meat. 

This breed can be good foragers but is known to stay close to home, making free-ranging a viable option. Dorkings are not afraid of humans, and they love to interact with them.

 

5. Brahma

broodiest chicken breeds

History

  • Developed in the US from birds coming from China

Physical Characteristics

  • Type – Dual Purpose
  • Weight – 9.5 lbs
  • Color – Light, Dark, Columbian, Partridge, Blue Buff, Blue Partridge, Silver Laced, Buff Laced, Red, Gold, Barred, Black
  • Comb – Pea type

Eggs/Laying

  • Color – brown
  • Size – large
  • Laying Ability – 3 to 4 eggs  per week
  • Broodiness – Excellent setter

Temperament / Behaviour

  • Hardiness – Not very cold hardy
  • Temperament – Gentle and quiet, Less noisy, Not good foragers

best broody chickens brahma

The Brahma, known as the “gentle giant” in the poultry world, are excellent layers and constantly go broody. These fantastic mama hens are calm, friendly, and make great companions. 

This breed is both heat and cold hardy. They can lay a generous amount of eggs even during winter. However, since they have heavily feathered shanks and legs, they are more prone to moisture. This situation will not bode well during cold months since it may lead to fatal frostbite. 

These even-tempered birds don’t mind small spaces, despite their size. They’d happily go about their day even in confinement. However, sometimes they’d overdo their relaxation and tend to be more inactive than other breeds. They’d rather wait for their share of feeds and treats than forage for bugs and weeds. 

 

6. Silkies

top 10 broody chickens

History

  • Dates back to the Han Dynasty period
  • Brought to the West through the Silk Road

Physical Characteristics

  • Type – Not Dual Purpose / for exhibition
  • Weight – 1.5 to 2 lbs
  • Color – Blue, black, partridge, gray, and white
  • Comb – Walnut shaped

Eggs/Laying

  • Color – cream
  • Size – tiny
  • Laying Ability – 2 to 3 eggs  per week
  • Broodiness – Excellent setter

Temperament / Behaviour

  • Hardiness – Not very cold hardy
  • Temperament – Sweet and friendly, Has black meat, Excellent foragers

broody chicken breeds silkies

The unusual-looking Silkie chicken takes the top spot when it comes to broodiness. The hens may not be as productive as other breeds, but you can rely on them to sit on their eggs for as long as they’re needed. 

Like the other breeds mentioned here, Silkie moms would gladly incubate and hatch eggs that are not their own. This caring disposition earned them the title of the “Broody Queens” of the chicken world. 

This docile and adorable breed is popular among raisers who have kids in their homes. They do not shy away from human affection. They would actively seek it and would gamely sit on one’s lap. 

The appearance of this unique breed adds to their charm. This breed seems to have more fluff than feathers. Their name was derived from their silky and satin-like plumage. Since they are smaller than other chickens, they are easy to raise as well. 

 

7. Cubalaya

broody chicken breeds Cubalaya

History

  • Resulted from the breeding of Malayan and Sumatran chickens
  • Brought to Cuba from the Philippines

Physical Characteristics

  • Type – Triple Purpose (egg, meat, cockfighting)
  • Weight – 6 lbs
  • Color – Black, black-breasted red, and white
  • Comb – small pea

Eggs/Laying

  • Color – light brown
  • Size – small
  • Laying Ability – 3 eggs  per week
  • Broodiness – Good Setter

Temperament / Behaviour

  • Hardiness – Heat hardy
  • Temperament – Curious and quite aggressive, Also a gamebird, Excellent foragers

If you live in a warm or tropical place and looking for a broody hen, the extremely heat-hardy Cubalaya is the best choice. They may not lay as many eggs as you’d want, but they go into a broody mode often. 

They aren’t as friendly as the momma hens that we’ve mentioned, so it would be best to keep children away from them. They can be pretty aggressive, but their curious nature can tone the feistiness in them. Despite their occasional sour moods, these hens can be good foster mommas to other chicks, too. 

This chicken was brought to Cuba from the Philippines and is the only breed recognized by the Cuban National Poultry Association. Its name was coined to honor the country that refined the breed. Cubalaya was bred for three purposes- for meat, eggs, and cockfighting.  

 

8. Dominique

broody chicken breeds Dominique

History

  • Brought to America by the Pilgrims
  • Existed since the 1750s making them one of the older breeds

Physical Characteristics

  • Type – Dual Purpose
  • Weight – 5 lbs
  • Color – Barred
  • Comb – rose comb

Eggs/Laying

  • Color – brown
  • Size – medium
  • Laying Ability – 4 eggs  per week
  • Broodiness – Good Setter

Temperament / Behaviour

  • Hardiness – cold hardy
  • Temperament – Sweet, docile, and friendly, Have little health issues, Excellent foragers

dominique

The oldest American breed, Dominique, has a sweet, calm, and gentle disposition. They love to follow you around to seek attention and ask for treats.

The momma Dominiques are exceptionally attentive to their chicks and have a high raising rate until the babies are independent. They have been broody ever since colonial times, which led them to exist even up to today.

This reliable breed can thrive both in free-range or in confinement. These chickens are also good foragers, and you could rely on them to fend for themselves. 

They are also a good choice for a family with younger children since they are not aggressive and gentle towards humans. However, their docile nature can be a problem when they are mixed with other aggressive breeds. They can best thrive in a flock that has other calm chickens. 

Summary

Your dream of naturally growing a sustainable flock is now within reach. There are several breeds of broody hens that you can raise in your backyard. It would be best to consider the climate of your place and the size of your coop or range.

It also helps to see if your broody hen will get along with the other chickens in your flock. The most important thing is that you don’t stress yourself waiting for the broodiness to set in. Let nature take its course. If the hens feel free to nurture their babies, they’d happily provide you with the chicks that you want. 

 

best broody chicken breeds

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