How to break a broody hen?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Laney, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. Laney

    Laney Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    Spring Hope, NC
    Hi All,

    I have a broody hen and I've been letting her set in her nestbox on some golf balls. I'd let her brood as long as she wants to set on those golf balls, but I'm concerned about her getting enough to eat and drink. I'm concerned about her health and wondering what I should do?

    She's a Silver Phoenix, about six months old. Her broodmates are all still laying normally. I don't really have anyplace to separate her, short of putting her in a bird cage or dog crate (small). She is a banty, so there would be plenty of room, I just can't bring her inside as my husband is allergic.

    Any ideas? Do I need to crate her and feed/water her there until she stops brooding? It's been about 2 weeks now.

  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Move her nest to another location and separate her from her flock mates, but keep her in their sight....and do it in the daytime! This seems to work for a young broody. They hate that! [​IMG]

    For persistent broodies, I dunk them head first in a bucket of water a couple of times and toss them out of the coop. Doesn't hurt them and it seems to change their mind pretty quickly.
  3. rufus

    rufus Crowing

    May 17, 2007
    My mother used to dunk the broodies in water to break them. It makes them really mad. Try it.

  4. Lucy4

    Lucy4 Songster

    Ok, I have to ask for clarification on the head dunking thing, because I'm trying to break a broody too. You literally just dunk them in water? Why does that break them of being broody?

    I didn't have a cage, so I just tossed my girl out of the coop for a couple days. Today, it's pouring, so I left her in there. [​IMG] I'm not very tough on them. But I do want to break her of this!
  5. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I've heard about doing this many times. Some throw them in the creek . . .

    The chill is probably what begins the process of lowering hormones or raising hormones or whatever it is that alters the broody behavior. Just guessing . . .

    I know what you mean about concern for the bird's health. Broody behavior extends beyond the hatch, after all. So, 3 weeks just setting with very little food - then the little ones essentially "drive" momma off the nest and into food searching mode. Broodiness can go on-and-on if'n they aren't setting on fertile eggs in the 1st place.

    I've had success just taking them off the nest and keeping them away from it. This didn't work with my last broody. Finally, I just put her in a plastic milk crate up off the ground. She was set up on the roost with the other birds for the night.

    I was amazed to find that it only took 36 hours of this. I realized that even if she went into the nestbox, she wasn't going to stay there for long. Show up with a snack and she bounced right off. Open the gate for free-ranging and she shot right out with the others. Other than a cranky attitude for a couple days, spending 36 hours either on the roost or in a milk crate "jail" set Ms. Broody on the path to reform.

  6. joedie

    joedie Songster

    Mar 17, 2009
    SW Indiana
    I put mine in a small dog crate inside the coop with food/water for 3-4 days. I took the bottom pan out so she was sitting on the wire floor. It worked great. When I took her out, she resumed laying and no further broody behavior.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    The theory is that the cold water lowers body temps and helps break the hormonal cycle. I don't exactly agree with this, as my bird really is only exposed to the water for miliseconds with each dunk and the water is not all that cold.

    I think it just confuses and startles them out of the sitting mindset. When you toss them out of the coop, they shake their feathers, look around like they are coming out of a dream, and proceed to join the others in their foraging. I've never seen one return immediately to the nest.
  9. Laney

    Laney Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    Spring Hope, NC
    Thanks for all the advice!!!! I've also read elsewhere to slip an icecube under her breast. So there must be something to the temperature idea.

    I'll give the water thing a try, as well as removing her from her nestbox. I just don't want to see the poor girl go into winter minus the fat and muscle she'll need to keep her warm. Secondary to that I'll try the cage method mentioned in the other thread!

  10. Get a wire cage & put her in there for a few days. Without any nesting material.

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