I’m sure that everyone has heard of the stereotype that, at a certain age, a woman will start to want children. While I can’t say that it’s necessarily true that all humans will eventually go through a phase where they just desperately want children, it’s actually very common in some breeds of chicken. It’s called brooding and if your goal is to get eggs out of your girls, then it can be quite a big problem.
Brooding is when a hen will decide, for whatever reason, that they really want to hatch little chicks and they’ll start nesting and sitting on their eggs to incubate them. Your hen will refuse to leave the nesting box, and may even become aggressive and loud whenever anyone approaches her. I’ve even been pecked at by a brooding hen. It’s completely natural, and likely linked to maturity.
There’s just one problem: unless you have a rooster, those eggs will never hatch, no matter how long she sits on them.
Some breeds are more prone to brooding than others, but regardless it can be a little frustrating as a brooding hen will not produce eggs while she’s incubating. But how do you break her of it? Well, while each chicken (and breed) is a little different, there are a few things you can try to help encourage her to get back to laying.
1. Give her time
It usually takes around 21 days for a chicken to hatch and sometimes, if you don’t mind the wait and your girl isn’t too stubborn, she’ll snap out of it on her own after the time has passed and she’s realized that the egg isn’t going to hatch. If you are patient enough, this is actually my preferred method as I feel like it’s the least stressful for the chicken to just let her do her thing.
2. Remove her from the box
If she’s not going to just come to the conclusion on her own (or you don’t want to go almost an entire month without eggs from her) then the next best thing is to remove her from the nesting box. She’s going to be upset, and will probably peck you so make sure you wear gloves and long sleeves! Put her with the others, and maybe she’ll realize what she’s missing and snap out of it.
3. Block off the nesting box
Obviously, if she can’t nest then she can’t sit on her eggs. If you’ve removed her and she just goes right back and plops her little feathery butt down on those eggs, then the next best thing may be to simply block her access to the nesting box. This will, of course, block it for the others as well, but if you give it a day or so it should help fix the problem and then you can let them back in as normal.
4. Remove nesting material
This is may not be practical if you have a huge flock, but can be a good option if you don’t want to block everyone from the nesting areas. Simply remove the nesting material from the boxes so that the girls have nothing to create a nest. Leave it out for a few days until you see her acting like normal, and then put it back.
5. Make her roost
You’ll need gloves for this, but wait until it’s getting dark and the chickens are going back to the coop to roost. Take your broody hen and place her with the other chickens who are roosting. If it’s dark enough when you do this, she probably won’t be willing to go back out again to get to her nest, and she will be back to normal.
Depending on how stubborn your chicken is, you may have to work your way down the list until you figure out what works.
So tell me, have you ever had a broody chicken? How did you snap her out of it? Leave me a note below and let me know!!