Raising chickens can be quite a productive and fruitful labor of love. Whether you want to start a long-term poultry business or just love eating eggs and want to save money. But, speaking of love and eggs, you might wonder if chickens feel the same love that we do for our own children. Are chickens actually protective of their eggs?
Chickens do actually care when you take their eggs. Some breeds will be more protective because their natural instinct is to brood over them and form a flock. Chickens cannot tell whether an egg is fertilized or not.
While generations and generations of breeding chickens for domestic and commercial purposes has decreased the hen’s nature and instinct of being protective of its eggs, the chicken may still show some sort of motherly instinct towards its clutch.
You’ll be surprised to know that chickens don’t get sad when you take their eggs, but are they protective?
Let’s look at the relationship between a hen and her eggs.
Are Chickens Protective of Their Eggs?
If may have noticed that your backyard chickens don’t mind it when you collect their eggs. You can just waltz towards their nest and then take the eggs without much problem. The hens might not even notice their eggs or even remember that they have them.
That said, you will notice that your chickens won’t get mad at you for taking their eggs. They won’t even remember that they had those eggs in the first place. Hen’s lay hundreds of eggs every year.
They will instinctively try to lay eggs on a regular basis, whether you collect them or not.
In a sense, most of the modern hens are actually bred to not brood or even be to be too protective of their eggs. That means that they won’t sit on their eggs or try to incubate them.
But we are talking about that in a general sense. In most cases, this seems to be true about the breeds bred for commercial purposes.
Some Breeds Will Still Brood
But, this doesn’t always mean that hens don’t care about their eggs. Today’s domestic chickens were breed to eliminate brooding in their systems.
There are some breeds that have a natural instinct to be protective of their eggs and try to brood.
Some chickens, regardless of whether there are roosters present, still have the instinct of brooding over their eggs to form their own flock. They don’t know their eggs are fertilized, but their natural instinct is to brood.
That is why there will be some breeds that will actually try to fight over you if you attempt to collect their eggs. They have the instinct to brood and will try to sit on their eggs.
Some chickens are even so protective that they actually sit on anything that looks like an egg such as a golf ball or even a white stone. Silkies, for example, are some of the more instinctive mothers in the chicken world and will try to sit on anything that looks like an egg.
Broody hen breeds may sometimes seem like they don’t care about their eggs but they actually do. Some of these chickens will try to hide their eggs in a corner or in a spot that isn’t obvious and will not brood over them until they lay enough eggs. In such cases, these hens will focus more on keeping itself healthy first by trying to eat and drink as much as they can before they start brooding. After all, they don’t want to end up deteriorating their health by sitting on their eggs all day.
Generally, Chickens Don’t Always Care
So, yes, chickens are protective of their eggs but that doesn’t seem to be true to all. It depends on the breed and whether or not there is a rooster present.
If a hen becomes protective over the eggs when there is a rooster present, its because she is brooding.
Why Aren’t Most Chickens Protective of Their Eggs?
As mentioned, chickens lay hundreds of eggs each year and don’t care if you collect them.
In fact, regardless of whether their eggs are fertilized or not, they actually won’t care a lot about their eggs. You can walk into their nests and take their eggs from under them or from the space where they laid them. And they won’t even care.
But why aren’t most commercial chickens as protective as some of their other cousins are?
They Were Bred That Way
Generations of breeding have allowed chicken breeders to produce hen breeds that are more focused on laying eggs than on brooding.
In the past, chickens would only produce 60 small eggs in a single year. Due to diet change, environment and etc, chickens are able to lay hundreds of eggs in a year.
They Would Rather Produce Eggs Than Brood
The reason as to why these chickens are absent-minded in comparison to their more protective cousins is that they only have so much energy and willpower to focus on certain aspects of their existence. In this case, since they were primarily bred to produce eggs, they would rather pour in all of their energy and attention into that activity instead of caring about brooding over their eggs.
As such, some hen breeds are actually wired to be a lot less broody than some other breeds. But, that doesn’t mean that these chickens don’t brood or care about their eggs.
There will still be times when a hen wants to brood over her eggs.
What to Do When Chickens Are Protective of Their Eggs?
There will be times when you notice your hens trying to brood, even if you don’t want them. Such cases happen when you wait a bit too long before you collect their eggs.
Here are some tips you can use to collect the eggs.
- Collect the eggs immediately. If left too long, the hens will develop a bond with them. So, if you wait too long to collect the eggs, the hens may actually become broody enough to protect their eggs.
- Wait until they leave their nesting boxes. Chickens won’t know whether you take their eggs, if they don’t see you doing it.
- Use decoy eggs when you are taking eggs from the hens. Again, chickens are not great at solving problems and won’t recognize fake eggs from real ones. So, when you try to take their eggs, replace them with some fake ones.
- Collect the eggs at the same time everyday. Doing so will decrease the chances of them brooding over their eggs.
Some hens will be more protective of their eggs than other breeds. Under normal circumstances, they could care less if you take their eggs.
If they are sitting on the eggs, you can usually slip your hand underneath and grab the egg.