What does it mean when you hear about a broody hen? Your hen wants to hatch her egg! This is good when the egg is fertilized and you want chicks, but what about when the egg is not fertilized or you do not want chicks? In order to have a fertilized egg, you would need a rooster. Helping your broody hen get back to her normal routine is crucial. Sitting cooped up in a nesting box all day and depriving you of your eggs is not fun for you or your hen.
When a hen is broody, she does not lay any new eggs. She already has the egg that she wants to hatch. All of her energy is being put into keeping her egg “safe”. She does not have any extra energy to take care of herself by leaving the nesting box and foraging for food and drinking her water.
The signs of a broody hen are easy to recognize. She will stay in the nesting box for a few hours after laying her egg. When trying to get her out of the nesting box, she might peck at your hand or fluff up her feather to protect her egg from being taken away or being hurt.
There are a few tricks to help your hen get out of her broodiness. The first thing to do is take her out of the nesting box. The earlier you get her out, the less of a habit it will become for her. After taking her out, take the egg from the nesting box. This will prevent her from wanting to go back. The next step is to hold her in a cold bucket of water. Her body temperature is very hot from keeping the egg warm. This will cool her down and help her to get back to her normal routine. While dipping her in cold water may seem harsh, it actually does help her.
If this doesn’t work, another solution is to put your broody hen in a small cage by herself. You can put rocks on the bottom to make it more uncomfortable for her to lay down, as if she were in a nesting box. She should stay in the cage for a few days. This accomplishes two goals. She gets to fully cool down. She will be somewhat uncomfortable from sitting on rocks and watching the other chickens find bugs and eat grass. She will not want to go back to the nesting box. Instead she will want to join her flock in foraging. She will be happy to get out of the cage after a few days, instead of thinking about going back to the nesting box.
Some hens are more likely to get broody. Out of the four breeds we have, our Buff Rock is the only one that has gotten broody, many times. We also have a Sussex, Delaware Cross, and Red Star. We had our broody hen in a cage in our backyard during the day. But after dark, we secured her in the garage to keep her safe from raccoons and other predators.
When Goldie, our Buff Rock, has been broody, we have found the cage solution to be the most helpful to her. She has the biggest mother instinct and it is sad to know that she will never hatch her own chick. But on the other hand, the life we provide for her makes her happy. She, as well as our other three, are spoiled. They free range all day long and have more healthy treats than sometimes we do!
Chickens are a wonderful pet because they bring great joy and relaxation. Having a broody hen is easily fixed with time and effort. These solutions will restore order back to your flock.
Picture of a broody hen:
Picture of cold water to dip your hen in: