How to Break a Broody Hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Sunny Side Up, May 13, 2009.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
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    It seems I've been answering this question a lot lately, so I thought I'd write it all up to better show up in a search on the subject. Please feel free to add your wisdom to the topic.

    A hen "goes broody" when she wants to set continuously on a clutch of eggs for 21 days and have chicks hatch out. Some hens will never go broody, some will go occasionally, some go very frequently, even weeks after leaving their last batch of chicks. It's difficult to "make" a hen go broody, this mood is determined by her own instincts, hormones, voices in her head, instructions beamed down from her Mother Ship.

    The best way to tell a hen has gone broody is when she wants to stay in her nest spot at night instead of going up to the roost to sleep. She'll puff her feathers out, flatten her body over the eggs, growl or shriek if disturbed, and often peck or bite any hand that dares come close. She may be setting on real eggs, fake eggs, golf balls, or imaginary eggs, it doesn't matter, they're important to her.

    Of course you can allow her to incubate the eggs she's collected, or swap them for other fertile eggs from your own flock or someone else's. How to do that would be the topic of a different thread. This is about what to do if you want to break your Broody's mood and get her back to the work of laying eggs.

    I don't think it breaks a hen's heart to break her broody mood. You have to give her points for being determined, but really, her mood can be adjusted without doing mental or emotional damage to her. Some hens are easier to refocus than others.

    With some hens, all they need is a few times of being physically removed from the nest and carried out to the yard where their flockmates are ranging. A little bribe of cracked corn will help them see the benefits of not brooding.

    Other hens may need a different treatment. The best way I know to break a determined broody hen is to confine her to a wire-bottomed cage, like a rabbit or parrot cage, and place that cage up on sawhorses, blocks, or hang it from the rafters, so that air can flow up underneath. Provide food and water, but NO bedding. Keep her in there for 3-4 days, unless she lays an egg earlier.

    Let her out one morning and watch what she does. If she hurries back to the nest spot, she'll need a few more days in the Broody Buster. But if she goes back to hang out with her flockmates, her mood has changed.
    Repeat whenever necessary. broody? [​IMG] not broody!
     
  2. tattooedchickenlady

    tattooedchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Man, this is so time-sensitive to me! I have a broody who is really a sweet girl, but stubborn! I took her out of the nest box a dozen times in a half hour...........I'll try to cage method and see what happens. But what I suspect will happen is that as soon as I get her broken, 2 more will be taking her place *sigh*
     
    cutiepie960, Ellenaj and WVPaul88 like this.
  3. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I've had some hens that have only gone broody once or maybe twice in their lives. And others that go broody with the phases of the moon. I finally found a great wire parrot cage someone was discarding, about 2' square on a heavy wire stand about 3' high. That's my Broody Buster, and it sits in a corner of the pen under a cover, ready to receive company. I have lots of bantam hens so it can do a brisk business.
     
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  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Something that I haven't seen mentioned but might help is to put the cage where there is plenty of light. When you move a broody and want her to stay broody, many people recommend keeping her in the dark for a day or so to keep her in the mood. I'd think if you want to break her, the opposite might help.
     
  5. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Quote:You're right, that makes good sense. My Broody Buster is kept in a corner of the pen, under cover to protect the birds from rain & sun. But it still gets good light under there, and that must help too.

    Another thing I've found helpful is to wet the food a little, so it's the consistency of oatmeal. Otherwise the hens push all their feed out of their bowls to the ground below, and their flockmates gather 'round to eat it up amongst the poop.
     
  6. obchix

    obchix Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello! I have had two of my BR go broody in the past month. I went with the rabbit cage method and they were both persuaded to unbrood themselves within 36 hours. I just took them out and watched to make sure they didnt go back to the nesting boxes. Good luck!
     
  7. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] obchix! I'm glad this method worked for you & your hens. That's the way to keep 'em laying for your table!
     
  8. usschicago1

    usschicago1 Suburban Cochins

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    I think my hen may be broody and i was just planning on sending out some of her SQ hatching eggs. MAN i hope this works! [​IMG]
     
  9. usschicago1

    usschicago1 Suburban Cochins

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    Taunton, MA
    I broke her after 4 days [​IMG] Thanks to this thread! :)
     
  10. Casey3043

    Casey3043 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had good luck with a wire dog crate up on some pieces of 4 X 4 posts laid on their sides. My RIR broody gave up after only 2 days in this contraption, which I kept in my workshop with the lights on.

    She had been broody for at least 3 or 4 weeks with me pulling her out of the nest box 2 or 3 times a day before I got desperate enough to allow her to stink up my workshop for a couple of days. She went back with the others and has stayed out of the nest box (so far).
     
    OG Anomaly, Bonniebooboo and LynsBrat like this.

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