Adult hen "mothering" another adult hen


Jun 30, 2020
Hi everyone!

I have 4 silkies that are about 1 1/2 years old. For the past two months, two of my hens are sitting in the nesting box and won't come out unless I boot them out. One hen keeps her wing over the other and the other buries her head under the "mother" hen. I did have one of the other hens nesting with them also, but she seems to have broken the habit and will go outside on her own, although she will nest with the other two at night. I have one that is roosting fine. Only one of my hens is laying eggs at this point. It looks like the two have gone broody because they are quite snappy when trying to get them out of the box. I have tried separating them, crating them, and have been locking them out of the coop during the day but nothing seems to be breaking them of their broodiness. I even tried placing them on the roost at night but they jump off and go in the box. Any suggestions on what is going on and what I can do to break them?
crating them
Just how did you do this?

Silkies may be different..and a bird that has been setting for a time may take longer than a few days.

My experience goes about like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest (or as soon as I know they are broody), I put her in a wire dog crate (24"L x 18"W x 21"H) with smaller wire on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop or run with feed and water.

I used to let them out a couple times a day, but now just once a day in the evening(you don't have to) and she would go out into the run, drop a huge turd, race around running, take a vigorous dust bath then head back to the nest... at which point I put her back in the crate. Each time her outings would lengthen a bit, eating, drinking and scratching more and on the 3rd afternoon she stayed out of the nest and went to roost that evening...event over, back to normal tho she didn't lay for another week or two. Or take her out of crate daily very near roosting time(30-60 mins) if she goes to roost great, if she goes to nest put her back in crate.

I've never had silkies, but I have a langshan that spends more time broody, than not. I can break her but two weeks later she is broody again.
Were I you, and I wanted layers, I'd purchase some pullet chicks, of a good laying breed, and give them to the silkies to raise.
You will eventually get your eggs, and you won't have to deal with integrating them into your flock.

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