Posted By: Pamela

When Hens Get Broody

Many chicken owners encounter broody hens just like the pictured Sage and Marshall. Driven by hormones, maturity, and a strong maternal instinct, they can become fixated on sitting on a nest and hatching chicks. This can happen anytime, especially during warm days and long evenings. It's important to be aware of the signs and how to handle them to ensure their health and well-being.

Signs of a Broody Hen:

  • Nest Fixation: A broody hen will spend most of their time in the nesting box, refusing to leave.
  • Reduced Egg Production: Will come to a halt as they focus on incubation.
  • Feather Plucking: Owners may notice bald patches on the hen's chest and belly as feathers are plucked to create a warm environment for imaginary chicks.
  • Aggression: Be prepared for some grumbling and pecking when trying to remove the hen from the nest or take away eggs.
  • Clucky Calls: Broody hens often develop a distinct clucking vocalization.

Breaking the Broody Cycle:

While a broody hen might seem determined, there are ways to gently nudge her back to normal. Here are some tips:

  • Nest Time Limits: Although hens may resist, encourage them to leave the nest a few times a day for short periods to eat, drink, and relieve themselves.
  • Daily Egg Collection: Regularly collecting eggs prevents the hen from accumulating a clutch and reinforces that incubation won't happen.
  • Nest Discouragement: Physically discourage nesting by placing an upside-down bowl over the entrance to the nesting box.
  • Environmental Tweaks: Make the nesting area less appealing by leaving coop doors open or removing the under panel in Eglu coops to create a draft.
  • Treat Time: Distraction is key! Offer treats outside the nesting box to entice the hen away and encourage socialisation with the flock.

By understanding the signs and implementing these strategies, Owners can help broody hens return to normal without compromising their health. Remember, a broody hen is a healthy hen with a strong maternal instinct, but sometimes, a little intervention is needed to keep everyone happy!

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