How to stop a broody hen and control the population of your flock

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by BANTAMWYANDOTTE, May 7, 2011.



    Mar 2, 2011
    I have given this same advice to several other BYC members in other threads about how to stop un-wanted brooding. Instead of re-posting it in different threads I am simply making a direct BYC link to it. We all know times are hard enough and population control is our responsibility to the members who have been with us longer than any.

    My Chickens (on average) have been with me for three years. This year was the first year I was able to expand my flock from around thirty to 20 more chickens and 10 quail. I feel lucky to find myself in a position to provide a safe and happy home for chicks I bred and planned for. Making this informed decision showed me that if we all knew an effective way to stop broody hens, without hurting them, then at least some flocks would be controlled. I know that often a flock started with a rooster and few hens but in time ,depending on the broodiness of the hens, that little coop is not big enough, 100 lbs of feed doesn't last a week and the beloved orginal flock members are unhappy to the point the hens quit laying and the rooster won't crow. This is a very common issue and a very real problem with "chicken-hobbyist". These first time chicken owners allow them to breed and brood over and over for the cute chicks until over-crowding occurs and the authorities are forced to step in and remove the chickens from the poor conditions. It is simple, over-crowding chickens is cruel. It is that simple. I would NEVER harm any member of my flock for any reason. To ensure the chickens I have live happy and healthy I looked for an effect way to control broodiness. After finding it , I feel I must pass it on to as many chicken-lovers as possible. This is why I posted this. To help save some innocent chickens from falling victim to a careless owner allowing overcrowding and possible starvation just to have more eggs or for chickens to sell. Broodiness is a strong instinct that causes the mother to set on her clutch of eggs for around three weeks without going anywhere except once a day to eat. For a long time many chicken owners would re-home hens simply because they thought we couldn't stop if but we can stop broodiness.


    Many of the older techniques that are applied in this situation are very inhumane and cause harm to the hen and the owner with no success. The hen suffers mentally and physically with these older techniques and I am not an advocate of chicken (or any animal) abuse in order to please man's wishes.If you truly appreciate them for what they provide then you don't want to harm a hen for doing what is only natural for her. After all, isn't egg-laying a natural ability as well?

    This a technique designed for even the most stubborn hens. Many hens will stop if put in a cage off the ground with a wire floor. In a couple of weeks the broody is gone. This is not my idea but a technique given to me by my close friend the local vet to put to use for the first time against the most stubborn RIR hen. It works , and I speak from experience. I have tried this many times and never saw failure from it:

    If putting her in a wire-floored cage with a fan under it aimed up at her fails two times back to back then: (try twice just to ensure that it is not going to work)

    Try rubbing her under-belly with a few ice cubes. I know how strange this sounds but let me explain why this works:

    To do this properly:

    Exchange two eggs with four Ice cubes, until she leaves the nest one day. She shouldn't return. If you run out of eggs, put her in a pen by herself and provide one egg in nest for her to sit on. If she sits on the egg then continue.

    Each day, add four ice cubes to the nest and try to get ice on all four sides of her body (head, tail, left, right) to cover her underside. She will stop soon if you do this everyday.

    If she still doesn't move then she may need to be put in a wire-floored pen (as before with the fan). Provide her with a nest and one egg. If she still sits on it then each day add the ice to it (in the same manner as before). She should stop but most hens never make it so far that this measure is necessary. IF none of these methods work (which I never seen in my 15 years experience) I would suggest chicken soup for dinner.


    If you can hold her without her panicking or struggling to the point of injury, apply the ice directly to her stomach and then place her back on the nest with ice cubes in it. She will not like this and will likely complain but she will get the idea if you are persistent. I promise.

    Why Does This Work?

    The vet explained :
    When a hens body gives the signal that enough eggs have been laid to brood over, a hormone is released that raises her skin temperature on her belly so she can properly incubate the eggs. Until the chicks hatch she will remain there (with the exception of once daily) and her underside will stay warm. After the chicks hatch, a mother leaves the nest and her body cools (just a bit above normal), and this triggers the "broody" hormone to stop and the maternal instinct starts. This is why people suggest a wire-floored cage. This air-flow from beneath cools her belly. But some hens are more determined. Until you trigger hormone production to stop, she will brood over anything and fight for that right! Some hen's bellies even get hotter in a wire-floor cage, almost for spite.

    My Experience

    When I was told this I thought this was the oddest thing I had ever heard but when my RIR hen made a several poor attempts at brooding this year and destroyed my incubation eggs by warming them just enough to ruin them I had to stop her broodiness. I tried everything, even the wire floor but no luck. As soon as I thought it had passed, I would let her out and the next morning she would be brooding over one egg! Then I tried the ice. After three ice-placements in her nest, she quit completely and hasn't tried again since then (two years ago).

    So Now You Know

    This is my advice given to all the chicken-lovers like myself who would rather have too few that are happy , than too many that are miserable or would end up in bad conditions due to forced population control or re-homing many chicks without guarantee of how many will find homes and how many would be left to suffer at the hands of man. It is our responsibility to humanely and effectively control the population of our flocks so that no chicken need suffer on yet another humans irresponsibility. I have more respect for those chicken-lovers who would rather loose a few chicks each year, than to loose their entire flock due to overcrowding and (if your like me) feed them with a blue-collar income, not sufficient enough to provide a happy home for an overcrowded flock of chickens. To all those who agree with me and know the number of flock members is a humans responsibility not the chickens, you have my companionship and most of all my respect.

    May you all have a happy flock with just the right number of chickens.

    From Somerset, Kentucky
    Tim [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
    3 people like this.
  2. Zaxby's2

    Zaxby's2 Songster

    Apr 10, 2011
    a place
    Good morning! Great thread. [​IMG]
  3. uncle rico

    uncle rico Songster

    Apr 29, 2011
    Spring Green, WI
    I'll have to try that next time I get a broody [​IMG].
  4. JoePa

    JoePa Songster

    Apr 18, 2011
    Lehigh County Pa.
    How about letting her sit on unfertile eggs - I guess she will eventually get tired of it and leave the nest - what's your thoughts on this?
  5. darkmatter

    darkmatter Songster

    Jul 10, 2009
    Why stop? Enjoy the gossip........

  6. Zaxby's2

    Zaxby's2 Songster

    Apr 10, 2011
    a place
    Quote:They'd just turn rotten and smell bad. It would be better to break her of broodiness. Oh, and [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. JoePa

    JoePa Songster

    Apr 18, 2011
    Lehigh County Pa.
    Zaxby's2 :

    Quote:They'd just turn rotten and smell bad. It would be better to break her of broodiness. Oh, and [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    thanks - JoePa​
  8. Zaxby's2

    Zaxby's2 Songster

    Apr 10, 2011
    a place
    Quote:[​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 15, 2011
  9. suebee

    suebee Speaks Silkie Fluently

    Apr 1, 2007
    N. Carolina
    Great post! I'll have to try that.
  10. Wow! What a great post! I have been not buying eggs from anyone d/t having 3 broodies right now (1 currently raising chicks) and my incubators have been turned off. I already have 6 adult chickens for sale as a result of growing chicks, but don't want to mess with worrying about baby chicks when the weather turns cold this fall.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: