I know that when you first start raising chickens, you are likely to have a lot of questions about them. When you have a hen go broody the first time, you are likely to be a little concerned. What is a broody hen, and what causes hens to suddenly decide to become broody?
When you know the answers to these questions, then you can become the best chicken owner possible. Additionally, you need to know why you need to stop a broody chicken and what consequences you will face when you don’t. I know it can be daunting, but I’m here to help walk you through this process and better understand what you are facing.
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Why Do Hens Go Broody?
Hens go broody when they want to hatch their eggs. You will notice that your chicken, instead of moving around, exploring, and pecking in the dirt, is sitting on her nesting box all day long except for a few breaks to get food and water. Even if a broody hen does not have fertile eggs, they will sit on their box, trying to hatch them, for weeks.
Many people have tried to determine what causes a hen to go broody, but there really isn’t any way to tell for sure if this is going to happen with your chickens. A chicken will become broody because of a combination of maturity, instinct, and hormones, all which work together to cause the hen to sit in their nesting box to try to hatch their eggs.
Broody Hen Signs
While most people can tell when they have a broody hen, there are also some clear signs that will clue you in, including:
- The hen trying to peck or bite you if you move her or try to take her eggs
- Hens that are very territorial and will puff out their feathers and squawk when something comes near them
- Broody hens tend to pick out their breast feathers, which allows their body heat to reach the eggs
- Refusal to leave the nest, even to roost at night with the rest of your chickens
Broody = Less Eggs
While these are all great signs when you are interested in having your broody hen hatch her eggs for you, it’s not a good thing to deal with broody hens if you aren’t interested in increasing the size of your flock. When a hen is broody, they will stop laying eggs, which will greatly decrease the amount of food you have. Additionally, one broody hen will often inspire others to become broody as well, which can make it impossible to get any eggs at all.
Why You Need to Stop a Broody Chicken
If you do not want your broody hen to raise chickens then you will need to do everything you can to stop their behavior. This is often easier said than done, especially if you have a very determined hen who really wants to hatch chicks.
While some people think that leaving the bird alone until they are no longer broody is an acceptable way to deal with this problem, doing so can have disastrous consequences, including your hen not being as healthy as before, which is why you need to take steps to stop their behavior if you do not want a broody chicken.
A Broody Hen can be unhealthy
If you do not stop your hen from being broody, then they can actually suffer from health problems related to their refusal to leave the nesting box. When hens are broody they will actually stop eating and drinking for most of the day, although they will take a break once or twice a day for food and water.
By the time the chicks hatch, the broody hen has often lost a lot of weight. If you have a hen that is trying to hatch unfertilized eggs, you can see how this can be very dangerous for their health, as they won’t know when to give up and resume normal eating and drinking.
It only takes 1 Broody Hen
Additionally, you need to stop a broody hen right away if you do not want this behavior because other hens will often go broody at the same time. While this is great if you want a lot of chicks to add to your flock, it is not ideal if you are counting on being able to eat the eggs that your hens lay.
If you notice that you have a broody hen, then you need to break them of the behavior right away so that you don’t have all of your hens going broody as well.
What You Can Do to Stop a Broody Hen
It is often easier said than done to break a chicken of being broody, but there are a few methods that have been proven to be tried and true.
First try this with your Broody Hen
One of the first things that you need to do is remove the chicken from the rest of your flock, as this will prevent the broodiness from spreading. If you have a broody hen and are ready to break her, then removing them from the nesting box is often the best way to accomplish this. Sometimes simply being removed from her home is all that it takes to break a hen of being broody, but often you need to take more steps.
Next, Remove Broody Hen nesting materials
Putting her in a cage that doesn’t have any nesting material is another way to break a broody hen. The hen is used to sitting on nesting material and eggs, and when her stomach is exposed to the cold wire of a cage, this can often cause the hormones in her body to change and her broodiness to break.
Your Broody Hen will need some Essentials
If you do decide to go this route, then you need to make sure that you put her in a cage where she is safe and has food, water, and shelter from the elements. Do not put any nesting material in the cage with her, or she is likely to continue to brood.
Last, Cool your Hen off
Cooling her off is another way to help break a hen of being broody. Because broody hens naturally experience an increase in their body temperature, you can sometimes break their broodiness by lowering their body temperature. This is often the last resort, as using frozen vegetables under the hen or trying to dip them in cool water to cool down their core can be difficult.
Broody hens are great if you want chicks, but they will stop laying eggs and can become aggressive, which is why many people do not want to allow their chickens to go broody. If you have a broody hen, then you can use a wire cage like this one to help cool her down and break her of her broodiness.
Let me know if you have any questions that I can help you with, and remember:
- Remove the broody hen from the rest of your flock
- Place them in an area without bedding
- Try to cool down their body temperature