Broody hen: Is patience a virtue?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by barba, May 20, 2016.

  1. barba

    barba Just Hatched

    May 20, 2016
    My 9-month-old cream legbar has gone broody -- to be clear, she is sitting in the egg box at all hours of the day, even when there are no eggs -- and as I really don't have any desire to have more chickens at this time (and we have re-homed our roosters out of courtesy for our poor neighbors, who suffered through 6 months of their crowing), I've been surfing through a lot of broody hen forums, all of which detail placing the hen into an elevated cage or other quarantined location. My question: is it wrong to just... wait for her to finish?

    My hen is very sweet and, even though she puffs up and makes a tiny growling noise, she has never bitten me when I check in on her, even when I pet her hackles down in an attempt to calm her down (which seems to work). Sometimes I pick her up and bring her outside the coup with my other hen where she grazes like she normally would, but when I put her back into the run, she returns to the egg box. Is it bad to keep picking her up and bringing her outside? I just keep thinking that exercise would do her some good and she doesn't seem particularly stressed when I do it.

    Another thing I've been doing is picking her up and putting her in my lap to pet her, and she seems to really like being pet; should I not be doing this? My fear is that I'm causing stress to her or confusing her naturally broodiness, and that is in no way my intention.

    In summation: My hen is broody, I have no interest in having chicks, and I've been lifting her out of the egg box to socialize with her and allow her to graze on occasion, usually without complaint on her part. Can I keep doing this until she stops being broody? Or will this make it last longer? And is waiting for her to stop being broody a bad idea?
  2. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    It's the hormones that keep your pullet broody, not anything you're doing.

    Yes, you can leave her alone to let the broody spell run its course, but some hens have stayed broody two and even three months. Since broodies curtail their eating during this time, a prolonged broody spell is going to affect her health. There's even an outside chance she could die of starvation. That's why we break broodies unless we want them to hatch chicks.

    You need to force her to stay off the nest, encourage her to spend her time in a well lighted, high traffic area where all the other chickens are. You also need to encourage her body to lose heat because that's another thing that affects broody hormones. This is why we place the broody in an open mesh bottom cage in a busy spot, and even a fan blowing under her will help speed up the process of turning off the hormone spigot.
    1 person likes this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    If you don't want her to hatch out chicks, best to break her promptly.
    My experience went like this: After her setting for 3 days and nights in the nest, I put her in a wire dog crate with smaller wire on the bottom but no bedding, set up on a couple of 4x4's right in the coop and I would feed her some crumble a couple times a day.

    I let her out a couple times a day 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.
    Water nipple bottle added after pic was taken.
    1 person likes this.

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