April Fools 2014 - BYC Sponsored Study: Increase Chicken Broodiness By Up To 48% With Aluminum Foil

Discussion in 'Announcements, Feedback, Issues, & Guides' started by Nifty-Chicken, Apr 1, 2014.

  1. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator


    Placing a square piece of aluminum foil on the roof of a nesting box (above a hen) will increase broodiness by up to 48%


    Chicken raisers often struggle with timing when their hens will go "broody". This is especially evident during our annual Easter HatchA-Longs! The challenges of dealing with a hen's timing and lack of reliable broodiness has lead to a huge market in "artificial incubators".

    Almost exactly a year ago today a bio-chem scientist with a specialization in reproduction (and strong interest in fowl, especially chickens) contacted BYC with a hypothesis. We were intrigued and over the next few months worked closely to define the hypothesis, determine the materials and methods of the hypothesis, and then, in a very controlled environment, test the hypothesis.


    The basic idea of the hypothesis was this: Female chickens (hens) go broody as their level of estradiol (basically "the broody hormone") reaches a certain level. Hens naturally secrete this hormone through their feathers, especially during the Spring, and reflecting this hormone back to the hens would increase their estradiol levels. The concept was to utilize aluminum foil's reflective and insular properties to increase the level of estradiol in a hen and promote broodiness.

    Testing Methods & Materials:

    Over the course of 6 months our team conducted hundreds of experiments with dozens of hens. We maintained various "control groups":

    Nest Box Materials Tested:
    • With aluminum foil
    • With plastic wrap
    • With copper plates
    • Without any changes

    Other Variables Tested:
    • Breeds: Black Australorp, Rhode Island Red, & Buff Orpington
    • Size of materials: small, medium, large
    • Placement of materials: above, below, around, top, various combinations
    • Length of exposure to materials

    NOTE: The tests were conducted following strict adherence to the "Federal Animal Testing" (FAT) association's testing procedures. This included "double-blind" experiment practices where the individuals conducting the experiments (placing the materials and measuring estradiol levels) were unaware of the hypothesis.


    The initial results were astonishing! We measured increases in estradiol levels compared to the "without changes" control group of up to 48%. We sent our results to a select group of poultry breeders across the US and Europe to provide additional testing to duplicate and verify the results. We're excited to say that in each experiment the results were the same: Aluminum foil placed above the nesting box increased broodiness in hens by up to 48%!


    Publishing Of Theory & Findings:

    We'll be publishing and promoting this theory in a research paper to be released at the end of the day today. This 401 page paper details all the details of the hypothesis, experiment, process, measurements, and findings. We've posted this thread with the highlights to give all of our amazing members at www.BackYardChickens.com the very first insight into these amazing findings.

    We look forward to your thoughts and comments, but especially looking forward to how these findings will fundamentally change Backyard Chicken broody behavior around the world!



    UPDATE: We now have some preliminary reports that this ALSO WORKS ON DUCKS!

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
    18 people like this.
  2. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    Please make sure to share this post via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc!!

    We really want to get this exciting news out to as many peeps as possible!

    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
    3 people like this.
  3. mcrowe315

    mcrowe315 In the Brooder

    Mar 27, 2014
    I thought everyone knew about this we have been doing it for a few years works every time!
    4 people like this.
  4. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    That's great news, thanks for letting us know!

    We're really hoping to get the word out across the world and hope that this will make it even easier to get a chicken in every yard!

  5. chickencrazy999

    chickencrazy999 Songster

    Apr 6, 2013
    England, UK
    This is Amazing will be definitely trying this Thank you [​IMG]
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Crossing the Road

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I'll try it and report my results as well as insert the information into the poultry classes I teach.

    I have 7 breeding flocks of a breed that is prone to broodiness. I've yet to have a setter this year but I expected that with the harsh never ending winter.
  7. fiddlechicken

    fiddlechicken Chirping

    Mar 12, 2014
    Portland, OR
    Now THAT's some chicken-y science! Love, love, love it!
  8. Phage

    Phage Mad Scientist

    Aug 1, 2009
    San Diego, CA
    Could the mechanism be more to do with reflected light reaching the pineal gland than reflected estradiol?
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2014
    4 people like this.
  9. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Wow! Great news! I've seen a LOT of posts asking how to make a hen go broody, over the years.
  10. Nifty-Chicken

    Nifty-Chicken Administrator

    It's a great question! In fact, it was one that was part of our initial hypothesis, but we eventually eliminated light as a potential cause for the huge increase in broodiness after additional testing.
    1 person likes this.

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