A Guide To Normal Hen Behavior

While we might think that chickens raised in a loving and caring environment will always get along, you will confirm the sad truth that they do not, especially if you spend a lot of time with them. have you noticed some of your chickens fighting, including your hens? What is normal hen behaviour?

A mother hen will demonstrate certain behavioural habits that would differ from a normal hen’s. Mother hen’s priorities will shift from focusing on her own survival to protecting and assuring the survival of her chicks. She will put her life at stake to educate and protect her babies from predators.

Mother hens have very distinguished behaviour, and it could be challenging to know what is normal and what is not. Continue reading to learn all about normal hem behaviour and what you can do to protect a mother hen and her chicks.

What Is Normal Mother Hen Behavior?

Normal mother hen behaviour can vary slightly. However, all mother hens will show signs of aggression towards other chickens, roosters, and other mother hens. It is crucial that you know the normal mother hen behaviour, so you know what is and what is not out of the ordinary:

Mother Hens Will Prepare For Their Chicks

A hen and a rooster’s behaviour would usually be similar, but mother hens are the ones who need to raise chicks. Before a mother hen can lay her eggs, she will start to look for a place to nest. She will eat, sleep, and preen here as well.

She will become highly territorial about this spot and peck or fight any other chicken that comes close. The hen will also hiss, growl, or even peck at you if you try to remove her. A soon-to-be mother hen will only get off her nest to poo, drink, and eat once a day.

She will look fluffy and flattened out over her eggs. Sometimes mother hens will stay in the nest the whole time after laying their eggs or leave for a short period.

Sometimes, they will lay their eggs outside of nests when dominant hens prevent them from entering their nests.

You can help your hen have the best chances at successfully raising her brood. You can build a broody coop or purchase one.

It should all be at one even level, without any ramps to go up and down. It would be best to completely isolate the hen from the rest of her flock, as rival hens may attack each other’s chicks and eggs.

A Hen Will Fuss With Her Eggs

The hen will do all the hard work of adjusting and turning her eggs. She will constantly fuss with them. The hen’s body does a fantastic job, keeping her eggs at the ideal temperature as well as moisture.

If the temperature becomes too hot outside, the hen may get off her nest more often. She will do this to let her eggs cool down for a while.

A hen will instinctively know the ideal temperature and humidity for her eggs to be at. During the last week of incubation, the hen will stay on her nest full time and stop turning them.

However, it might be good to keep in mind that not all hens will have the natural instinct to hatch a whole clutch of eggs. They may leave their nests for too long periods or let their eggs become too cold.

Some hens may even abandon their nests and leave them after a few weeks. Some chicken breeds make better mothers than other breeds.

Mother Hens Will Become Defensive

Mother hens will be very protective of their newborn chicks once they hatch. Mother hens have a tendency to become aggressive toward chicks of another mother. You need to separate mothers from chicks other than their own, as it is necessary if you want to prevent mortality.

The mother hens will peck and other chicks, causing them physical harm. In some cases, mother hens will peck at other chicks until they kill them.

Mother hens will gather their own chicks in order to protect them against aggression and picking from other hens, as well as predators.

Mother hens will be calm around other people if they are familiar with the person being in their space. So, if you spend time with your chickens every day and feed them, a mother hen will proudly show off with her chicks, showing you the excellent work she has done!

If a mother hen is not familiar with a person, it will herd its chicks away from the person and may even attack them.

Mother Hens Will Teach Their Chicks

Mother hens will provide their young chicks with education, much like humans. Chicks will not consume water until their mother teaches them, or they accidentally discover water by pecking at bubbles and reflections.

Mothers will place their beaks into the water to help their young to discover and learn the drinking process.

The chicks will often fight amongst themselves, and the mother hen will regulate and stop the fighting if she sees a threat on the outside.

Otherwise, you can expect mild fighting amongst the chicks as they discover and set the pecking order in their flock.

Other Broody Hens Will Help To Raise Chicks

Broody hens will show a very strong desire to hatch their eggs. A broody hen is not necessarily a mother hen, but she will have a natural desire to become one.

Broody hens will lay their eggs in the provided nesting boxes and avoid laying their eggs outside the box.

They will also become territorial around the nesting boxes and try to sit on the eggs.

Can Chickens Recognize Their Offsprings?

Mother hens will make use of verbal commands to communicate with their chicks. Hens and chicks will recognize each other’s sounds, which will help them to stay together.

They will never mistake the vocalisation of other chicks and think it’s their own offspring. The mother hen will vocalize, making her chicks aware of her location, so they won’t possibly stray away.

A mother hen will naturally lead her checks to water and food. However, mother hens do not pick a favourite amongst their chicks and will never show a preference towards only one of them. If a chick can not see the mother hen, it will give a call of distress.

When the mother hen hears the call, she will run in the direction of the sound. However, if the mother hen can see the distressed chick but not hear them, she will not go in that direction.

Do Chickens Know Their Mother?

As soon as chicks hatch out of their eggs, they will know their mother’s voice and follow her everywhere she goes.

If you have allowed your hen to brood on her nest and hatch her own chicks, you probably have had the fantastic opportunity to witness the strong relationship between a mother hen and her chicks.

Those babies know their mum and her voice from day one.

How Long Do Chickens Stay With Their Mother?

Broody hens will sit on their eggs for 21 days and stay with their chicks for about 6 to 8 weeks after.

Once the chicks are eight weeks old, the mother hen will abandon them and return to her life in the coop as usual.

It may be another week or two longer if it is winter, as some chicks grow slower than others.


Now that you know exactly what behaviour you can expect from a mother hen, you will be able to notice if there is anything out of the ordinary.

Knowing normal hen behaviour is crucial to anybody who owns chickens, and if you are lucky enough, the mother hen will show you her chicks in no time!