How to Break a Broody Hen

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

  1. Thassa

    Thassa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2012
    Adirondack Park, NY
    I lost my little pocket knife in the shavings one day and found it under one of my broody silkie hens a few days later. It was nice of her to keep it toasty warm for me.
  2. Nellie601

    Nellie601 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 11, 2013
    McComb, MS
    I was just about to make a post asking about this when I decided I should research it first. I had read in a book about dipping them in ice water (shocking their system) and repeating till she's broken but that seems like torture to me. So I'm so appreciative of this post and I will try to come back and give the results. But from the sounds of it, I'm sure it'll work. Thanks again!
  3. sunshinegirl12

    sunshinegirl12 Out Of The Brooder

    I've reading through a lot of these post and even posted my own concerns and received some good feed back. I like this idea of trying to break my broody BO. I'm not real keen on the broody buster cage, even though I'm sure it's a really good thing to do, as my last rsort. My husband put the plywood up earlier today after all the girls were done doing their business, I would say around 3:00, she wasn't happy about it, but it's now 6:45 and she's been outside since, of course she keeps going back inside looking at the nesting boxes, but heads back out again, its a start. I'm sure it's going to take a couple of days to fully get her through this, so I'm praying this process works.. Wish me luck...
  4. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 True BYC Addict

    Apr 19, 2012
    NW Vermont
    I don't think the broody buster cage is a bad thing at all. Obviously the girls weren't happy they were in it. Not because they were caged but because they weren't on the nest. Dunking their butts in ice water sounds more like torture to me, especially when it is cold. Maybe mid summer when they won't freeze to death with wet feathers.

    You want to see a chicken go nuts? Keep her away from the nest boxes. My "alpha" was hogging a box (not broody, more like "this is my box and you can't lay in it even though I already laid my egg today") and annoying other girls in the nests. Since I was out doing stuff in the barn, I played gate keeper on the coop. I opened the door for any girl that wanted in or out except her. My coop is a converted horse stall with open wire on the top half of the front and the sides. I put clear plastic on the sides for the winter to keep drafts out. She tried to get in the door, she went to the stall on right side and jumped up on the wall. Back out, back in. This went on for some time, then she decided to see if she could get in from the stall on the left side. The plastic on the right side is against the wire on the "inside the coop" side of the studs (due to the "quality" construction of these stalls - no I did NOT make them [​IMG]) It is stapled to the studs on the "outside of the coop" in the left stall so there is no shelf. She hit the plastic so hard it split top to bottom (she was uninjured).

    My girls lay any time from sun up to sun down, depending on where they are in their individual egg cycle. So unless you are SURE all the girls that are going to lay on a given day have done so, I'd be cautious about blocking the nest boxes - though in this case I guess Zia was just excelling in her role as "Miss Bossy Pants".

    That said, trying the "on the roost over night" thing isn't a bad idea, it just didn't work for me. My wife and I stayed in the coop one evening repeatedly putting the first broody back on the roost until it got too dark for her to see well enough to get off. She spent the night on the roost. It was mid February so the temps were below freezing. She was back in the box when I opened the coop the next morning.

    2 days in the cage with all the food and water she wanted did the trick. The one that went broody awhile after the first took only one 24 hour cycle. Next time I have a broody, she gets MAYBE 2 days before she hits the box. I'm guessing just a day in the box then on the roost at night would do it since she wouldn't be "in deep" yet (lacking any knowledge of chicken thinking and hormones to the contrary [​IMG] ). Might just start with making sure she spends the night on the roost. But that gets back to the question of "do they need cold air under them?". If they do, the roost isn't the best place since we make them such that the birds can stay warm overnight.

    I don't know if being allowed to hang in the nest for "only" 9 hours instead of all day and night is enough. But your data can add to the list of "worked or didn't" for all future people suffering with an unwanted broody. The more examples of each we have, the better!

    Good luck!!

  5. sunshinegirl12

    sunshinegirl12 Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you for your thoughts and ideas. I'm not saying the cages are a bad thing, that most definately would have been my last resort to this. We don't cover the boxes until after 4:00, by that time our girls are done laying. Since we started trying this just this past Friday, it seems to be working good so far. There was quite some resistance the first night but she survived it, she stayed on the roost staring at the wall the boxes are located on. Early Saturday morning went out to uncover the boxes, she was outside with the others, not so much mixing and mingling, but just the same she was at least outside. She did eventually go in. Covered the boxes against last night, I went out about 9:00 last night to check on them and say good night and all was quite. All were on the roost and even sharing (which Emily didn't alow on Friday night).

    Ventured out early this morning again to uncover, Emily was outside pecking and picking with all the other girls and I am very happy to say it:s now after 12 noon, she hasn't cornered herself in the box. She's been in the coop and comes back out again. I'm sure it's probably going to be a few days before she's laying again (I think).

    Now I'm not saying this will work every time, but heck it's seems to be working so far. The cage will always be on the bak burner.

    There has been some really good advise and ideas on here, the one thing I probably wouldn't do is the cold water dunking, I live in Jersey and still to cold for that, still wouldn't do it anyway.

    Happy Easter to all!!!!
  6. Cadens Farm

    Cadens Farm Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 1, 2013
    The main thing I see in many of these posts, is that many are too attached to their birds. These are food animals, not pets. To make them pets, is emotionally unhealthy. You are trying to keep them in good health. Dunking them in water isn't cruel. We all swim, and never saw it as torture. Cages should not be a last resort, they should be a first resort. If you're morally opposed to cages, you need to rethink things. Broody birds can easily get weak and die. Much like tearing off a bandage, faster is better. It might hurt a bit, but it's the better option. I truly think animals in situations like this need to be looked at strictly from a logical point of view, not an emotional. I'm not at all trying to be rude here, or short, but it seems this has been talked about longer than it would have taken to actually break one. My .02
    1 person likes this.
  7. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 True BYC Addict

    Apr 19, 2012
    NW Vermont
    She is broken - glad to hear it. The fact that she put herself on the roost, was not in the box in the morning and normal interaction with the other birds tell the story. Mine took a week before they started laying again but they were broody for two weeks. Don't know if the amount of "broody time" relates to the delay in starting to lay again.

    I don't know where the heck YOU live but if I stuck my chicken's butt in a bucket of cold water in winter then tossed her on the roost, she would freeze to death. I do swim, but I don't do the "Penguin Plunge" and those that do are sent to a warm tent with towels to dry off and clothes to put on, not left to air dry in the sub freezing temps.

    And, actually, swimming CAN be seen as torture. A friend of mine joined the Navy some 35 or so years ago. He couldn't swim, things did not go well in swim class when they made the guys all jump in the deep end of the pool. They did drag him out before he drowned.

  8. mariac123

    mariac123 New Egg

    Apr 4, 2013
    We have a broody leghorn at the moment and she has been broody for the last 2 weeks. It is hard to break her broodiness. We have had to separate her from the other hens as every time we forced her out she sits on the ground and gets pecked by the others. However, she isn't laying eggs and she is in the run but just sits on the floor as we have shut the hatch up. We are now debating fertilised eggs but are worried how the other chickens would react to it. Any advice?
  9. sunshinegirl12

    sunshinegirl12 Out Of The Brooder

    Bruce - Yes she is broken, by Monday she was back to her old self, so I guess I got lucky. She wasn't all puffy anymore, she started getting more coloring back in her comb and sociable. More importantly she was eating normal again. It's now Thursday and all is good, still waiting for an egg from her though, I'm sure will come back soon. Thanks for your imput.
    Well maybe you have your birds for food but I don't. I have raised my hens and roo since they were 2 days old as my pets and not for food other then the eggs that they lay. Whether they are my chickens, cats or dogs, they get the same loving care and treatment. My hens & rooster are good therapy and i don't think of it as being emotionally unhealthy and they give me great joy on a daily basis. They are very sociable and get really excited when they see me or my husband come into the yard towards their pen every day. They have gotten to know the sound of our vehicles and get really excited when we pull in the drive way. They hover all around me, sit on my lap, sit on my shoulder, peck and pull at my hair and fall a sleep on my lap. They always know when they are getting their treats, again they get very excited. They like listening to music as they have since they were little babies, they like to be talked to, they each have their own personalities and traits. They are part of our family.......

    Dunking them in cold water might be for you, but it's not for me. I'm not saying if its wrong or right. Your choice is your choice as is mine. As I live in an area where temps are still up and down with the cold, i just wouldn't do it now. I'm not morally opposed to or saying that cages are a bad thing, again your choice is your choice not mine. Covering the nesting boxes worked for me this time and at a quicker pace then I thought, maybe it won't work the next time, who knows, then that will be the time to think about the cage, if I have too. I come onto this site to get thoughts, ideas and some advice. It really is my choice and decision which options i should consider after reading all the posts. I'm not trying to be rude or short either, just want to be upfront with my feelings and you are right this has been talked about long enough.....
  10. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Mariac123 welcome to BYC. It's up to you to decide what to do with your broody hen, a lot of folks have their hens incubate eggs & raise chicks, there is a ton of discussion on this and advice as to how to make it work for your flock. Otherwise, it seems that she needs more intervention to break her broody mood.

    Cadens Farm, there is a rather wide spectrum of purposes people have for keeping their chickens, from pure profit-making livestock to pampered diaper-wearing indoor pets, and everything in-between. I began this thread because many other folks were asking this same question in other places so I thought it would be helpful to have all the discussion in one place. It seems to me that each hen has her own component of broody instincts & skills, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to this issue. Some hens can be more easily discouraged than others, and some shouldn't be interfered with at all but enabled instead. Add to that the many different situations in which people are keeping their chickens and there are a lot of variables to consider. Although I have yet to break a broody hen because I feared she would "easily get weak and die" like you said...

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