Broody Hens and what to do?


In the Brooder
Jun 3, 2017
I'm very new to chickens, I'm now going into my 3rd month of having them and it really has been the best thing i have ever done! However I'm not daft enough to not notice that two of my hens have hunkered down to nest. One, my Buff Orpington (Notorious for this behavior as i have learnt) has been brooding for 3 weeks, i toss her out the nest for half hour in the morning and again in the afternoon. My partner has had chickens for years and has told me to just leave her to get on with it with her 'invisible eggs' and she'll come round eventually. Which I have done so far. However my Rhode Rock has now decided she wants to be broody too, tho she does come out of her own accord a few times a day.
I've tried the cold bath method on both, which worked for 30-45 mins each time they were back to normal but as soon as there dry, there back in. I have also tried shutting them out all day which they, although they are quite noisy, do flock with the rest if free ranging in the garden, but the other are having to lay in the garden.. which has problems in itself, as well as pacing when one wants to get in etc

Ive read quite a bit and have been recommended the brood cage method, but I feel its a bit mean? My question is do you leave them in it all day and all night? My run is fairly secure but id feel terrible leaving them in a crate all night in the run and they get got by a fox :(
My other question is, if i left them to brood, how long is it before they snap out of it usually? I'm not too worried but my Rhode Rock is getting picked on, and my Buff is being horrendous to every body and I'd just really like the harmony to return to my flock.
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Using a crate is not mean IMO. When broody, a hen eats and drinks significantly less than normal. Over time, this leads to a loss in condition and can result in the bird being more susceptible to illness. Extended broodiness is not a good thing. When a bird decides to stop being broody can vary. I have read here on BYC that some birds can literally starve themselves to death as a result of being broody (this may be an exception, but you get the idea).

If possible the crate should be inside the coop. If not, then its a case of ensuring that your run is predator proof and that the crate is protected from rain / sun. I'd imagine that the higher the crate is elevated off the ground, the safer your birds will be.
I could probably put the crate up in the coop/house, its an old converted duck house so its fairly large, but it being so close to the nest boxes would it have the same effect?
Providing it is raised off the ground, to allow air to circulate under the hens, then yes.
And can they go in one crate together, or is it best to do them separately?
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I would separate them. You don't want to crowd two crabby chickens into one crate where they can't get away from each other. I think that could get ugly.

From what I've read, it usually takes 3-5 days to break a broody this way. Much faster than taking them off the nest day after day, so they can get back to eating and drinking normally and not lose condition.
I'm trying this right now with a broody hen. Will her feet be ok with the wire cage being elevated? She seems perched ok, just a bit awkwardly. I don't want to cause any injuries while she's in "chicken jail"


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If you could get some hardware cloth or something with smaller gaps, I think it would be better for her. But you need it so the air moves through, so best if wire of some sort.

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