Having a hen go broody can be great for your flock. Â It means that she will naturally incubate your eggs until they hatch. Â Unfortunately though, you donâ€™t always want a hen to go broody. Â While a broody hen can mean no incubators and no responsibility forÂ you as the owner, it can also be unhealthy and/or pointless for a hen and therefore not in your best interest. Â Maybe you just arenâ€™t trying to hatch any eggs. Â Maybe you want the hen to keep laying instead of setting over a hatch of eggs. Â This is why as a flock owner, you may want to learnÂ how to break a hen from going broody and get her back on track to a normal lifestyle. Â
To elaborate, it may be â€œpointlessâ€ for a hen to go broody if the eggs arenâ€™t even fertile. Â If you have no rooster, the eggs wonâ€™t be fertilized and therefore you wonâ€™t need a hen to set over them. Â Despite this, your hens will still sometimes try to incubate them. Â This can happen if you let too many eggs accumulate in the nest box or if you just have a very “motherly”Â hen. Â What makes this pointless broodiness so important is how detrimental it can be to a henâ€™s overall health. When a hen goes broody she stops laying and can also tend to pluck out her own breast feathers. Â Not only do they do this, but they will rarely get up and move from the same spot over the course of incubating the eggs. Â This means minimal food and minimal water. Â As you can see, going broody can be really tough on a hen which is why if itâ€™s unnecessary, you should know how to break her broodiness.
Other “Side Effects”
There are other aspects of going broody that you may want to avoid as well. Â For example, sometimes other hens can start to peck at the broody hen for taking up a nesting box for too long. Â A broody hen may also have to â€œreintegrateâ€ into the pecking order after being gone so long. Â This can also lead to some â€œhazing,â€ if you will. Â Broodiness can also rub off on other hens and cause them to go broody, only exacerbating your problem. Â The lack of physical activity and grooming can also leave your hens prone to mites and other parasites.
Diagnosing your broody hen is the first step and itâ€™s not very difficult. Â If your hen pretty much sits in the nesting box over eggs all day long, sheâ€™s probably going broody. Â The reason hens will start plucking their breast feathers is because it helps pad the nest. Â A henâ€™s bare skin is also a better heat conductor than feathers for keeping the eggs at the proper temperature. Â
So you have a broody hen. Â Sheâ€™s â€œall cooped upâ€ in the nest box all day hovering over infertile eggs or whatever the case may be. Â How do you break her? Â Well, the most preemptive step to breaking a broody hen is preventing her from going broody in the first place. Â The best way to do this is to collect your eggs early and often. Â If there are no eggs, there is nothing to set over. Â
You Didn’t Nip It In The Bud, So What Do You Do Now?
Okay so you screwed up, you let the eggs accumulate and now your favorite hen â€œDorisâ€ has gone broody over them. Â What do you do now? Â One effective method is to just lift the hen off the eggs multiple times a day and place her as far as safely possible away from the eggs. Â Hopefully, after many attempts, she will stop going back to the nestÂ and instead join in with the rest of the flock in being goofy, carefree, and most importantly healthy chickens. Â On top of this, at the end of the night, before you go to bed, place the hen on a roosting bar. Â Chances are sheâ€™ll be so blind and tired in the dark that sheâ€™ll just crash on the roosting bar and not go back to the nest.
If the above methods donâ€™t work, there are some other more extreme measures you can take as well. Â You could remove the nesting materials from the nest box. Â By doing this you would just make the nest box as unappealing and uncomfortable as possible to the hen. Â Worst comes to worst, you can block the nest off from the hen.
Sometimes They Need Your Help
Simply put, your hen wonâ€™t be extremely excited with your presence and nosiness during this period of breaking their broodiness. Â Alas, it is very conducive to a henâ€™s health to keep her out in fresh air, drinking water and eating feed as sheâ€™s supposed to. Â Sometimes, they just need to be reminded of this.