Newbie, broody hen, help!


In the Brooder
May 1, 2021
I've been on here reading everything for a couple months since I inherited 7 hens and a roo. We enjoy the eggs but they are primarily pets. They have a large run that is fenced off from my large garden. One of the hens (Molly) frequently "jumps" the fence and spends the day in the garden. I put her back in the run every night and didn't think too much about it. I just thought that she liked having adventures. :) A few days ago, I couldn't find Molly in the evening. We searched everywhere (big farm) and finally concluded that she escaped the fenced garden and got taken by a hawk. Yesterday, she suddenly reappeared inside the fenced garden. Tonight it dawned on me that she might be sitting on a clutch of eggs and stayed hidden from us when we were searching for her. I searched the garden and found her sitting under a large shrub and wouldn't come out. I think she has gone broody and is sitting on her clutch. I don't know exactly when she started but it has only been 3 nights that she did not come back to the run in the evening with the rest of the flock. I have no idea what to do now. I didn't really want more chickens but I'd like to do what is best for Molly. I can probably find homes for any chicks if necessary. Any advice would be very welcome!
You can break her of being broody by giving her an ice water bath, taking her eggs, and isolateing her.
Thank you GoatGirl! If possible, I'd like to not intervene but I also don't want to cause pain/suffering to Molly or chicks. Will bad things happen if I just let her sit?
Just make sure on her side of the fence she has food and water, and she'll be fine.
You said she's nice and secluded so she should be just fine to hatch her eggs.
Mark 21 days on the calendar from when you suspect she started sitting so you know when to look for baby chicks...especially if you have cats who might think they look like a snack.
This link may be interesting- Breaking a broody hen
Good advice.
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?
not broody!
If you really don't want chicks, I would take her eggs.

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