Encouraging broodliness in hens- why or why not?
Why encourage it? After all, they do stop laying, they get grumpy and frustrating. If you live in the city you probably will want to prevent it, and break it if one starts. Many people though enjoy watching a momma hen hatch her own chicks and raise them, leading them everywhere and teaching them how to scratch, dust, and find nice spots to relax. It is much more hands off then if you hatch them, raise them, buy all the supplies for them, and try to keep them the right temp. The chicks will grow up more independent and more experienced.
Although, keep in mind if she does hatch them, she will need a separate place with them for the first month or two. Keep them separated completely from the flock for a week, then they can go out to forage with every one else. After a month, they can go back in the coop with the flock, this process prevents the others from not letting the hen and her chicks get any water or food, and sometimes the other hens will kill the chicks if they are not big enough to get away.
How do I encourage her to brood?
Often a nest full of eggs will trigger the hen to sit on them, and want to hatch. So if you put golf balls on the nest and keep them there, a hen will most likely decide to brood. Don't keep real eggs there as they will go bad, the hen wont know the difference between the two. Another reason a hen might decide to brood is the warm air on her underside, thats why summer is the most likely time to get a broody out of the deal.
Discouraging broodiness, how to prevent
(sorry, i cant get it to go unbold)Like I said earlier, a nest full of eggs helps trigger that, so collect the eggs as many times as you can during the day. In the summer I have always found it helps if I put a fan running through the coop on the hottest of days, mainly to help keep them cool but also to prevent broodies.
If they do brood, how to stop.
Its easiest if you catch them early, as the days go on and shes broody, its going to be very hard. On the first day just keep taking her off and putting her as far from the nest as you can and have her walk back, if she goes back then take her off again, the walking will also help prevent.
Alot of people have a wire cage, or rabbit hutch they put them in when they brood. This allows air flow underneath and discomfort which may cause her to stop.
Or, at night when everybody is going home to roost, take her out of the nest and block the nest boxes so she cant go in them, this will probably be the best way.