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Broody Hen


Having a broody hen in your flock can be a challenging situation for any poultry owner. A broody hen’s natural instinct to incubate eggs can disrupt the normal routine of egg-laying, leading to decreased productivity. However, by understanding the behavior of broody hens and implementing proven techniques, you can successfully break their broodiness and restore their egg-laying capabilities. In this article, we will delve into the causes of broodiness, discuss the negative impacts, and provide practical steps to break a broody hen. Let’s get started!

Understanding Broodiness:

Broodiness is an instinctual behavior in hens, where they become devoted to sitting on a clutch of eggs to incubate and hatch them. During this period, broody hens may exhibit certain behavioral changes, such as sitting persistently in the nest box, puffing out feathers, and displaying aggression when approached. It’s essential to address broodiness promptly to maintain optimal egg production within your flock. Kathy Mormino “The Chicken Chick” discusses when broodiness should be interrupted.

Negative Impacts of Broodiness:

While broodiness is a natural process, it can have negative consequences on egg production and flock dynamics. Broody hens will cease laying eggs, leading to a decline in your overall egg yield. Additionally, broodiness can spread among other hens, causing a ripple effect and further reducing productivity. By breaking broodiness, you can prevent these issues and ensure a healthy, productive flock.

Identifying a Broody Hen:

To break broodiness, it is crucial to first identify a broody hen. Look for the following signs:

  • The hen spends extended periods of time in the nest box, refusing to leave.
  • She may puff out her feathers and emit a distinctive clucking sound.
  • The hen will show aggression when approached or handled.
  • She may pluck feathers from her breast area to provide better heat transfer to the eggs.

Breaking Broodiness: Proven Techniques:

Physical Intervention:

  • Isolate the broody hen in a separate, well-ventilated, and dimly lit enclosure to disrupt her nesting routine.
  • Remove any eggs from her nest box and replace them with dummy or infertile eggs.
  • Elevate the broody hen’s enclosure to allow air circulation under her, as it helps cool her body temperature.
  • Place an ice pack or a frozen water bottle under the hen’s belly to cool her further, discouraging broodiness.

Environmental Changes:

  • Increase light exposure in the henhouse to simulate longer daylight hours, which can discourage broodiness.
  • Rearrange the nesting boxes to break the hen’s attachment to a specific spot.
  • Ensure the nesting area is comfortable, cool, and well-ventilated, discouraging broodiness.

Distractions and Behavioral Modification:

  • Encourage the broody hen to engage in different activities by providing novel stimuli like treats, toys, or fresh bedding.
  • Gently lift and handle the hen daily to disrupt her nesting behavior and discourage broodiness.
  • Implement a feeding regimen that reduces protein intake, as high-protein diets can trigger broodiness.

Happy Chickening!™

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