5 Tips for Dealing with Broody Hens

Posted by Laura Hepburn, Thu, Aug 18, 2011; updated Wed, June 22, 2023

What is a "Broody" Hen?

If you keep a variety of chickens in your flock, chances are you have at least one hen that likes to go broody. “Going broody” is when a hen decides she would like to hatch some of her eggs and sits on them for an extended period of time, allowing her body temperature to increase and often consuming less food and water than she would normally.

For those who want their girls to hatch some fertilized eggs, this is just fine. You’ll need to make sure they have easy access to food and water, usually by placing a small waterer and feeder within very close proximity to their nesting box.

But, for people who want eggs only for consumption, a broody hen can be a bit of a pain. For one thing, you want to make sure your hens get the food and water they need, especially during hot summers. Breaking a hen of her broodiness will help ensure that she will eat whenever she’s hungry and drink when thirsty.

Broody hens can also experience a slowdown of egg production, especially if they hoard eggs from the other hens and feel they have a full nest. I have two hens that tend to go broody and they love to adopt the eggs from the rest of my flock!

One of the other concerns is that broody hens can get a little aggressive. Some hens will not only sit on a bunch of eggs, but strongly object to your trying to take them by pecking and yelling at you.

Broody Breeds

It should also be mentioned that while specific hens of any breed can be rather broody, there are some breeds that are notorious for it.

Silkies

Silkies are famous for being broody hens; in fact, many people keep silkies around to use specifically for hatching new chicks. They will hatch just about anything and are good mothers as well.

Other Broody Breeds

Other breeds that have been known to go broody at times are Australorps, Brahmas, Cochins, Faverolles, Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, Sussex and Wyandottes (although none of these breeds are as prone to broodiness as Silkies and will vary widely depending on the individual bird). 

5 Simple Tips to “Break” a Broody Hen: 

  1. Be sure to remove eggs from under the hen regularly and, if possible, pick her up and set her away from the nesting area while you collect them.
  2. Create a separate environment for her using a small portable coop or crate. Removing her from the nesting boxes and eggs could help get her out of the broody mindset.
  3. Putting her in a cage with a wire bottom, open to the air, can help cool her underside and disengage her from the broody feeling.
  4. If using a wire-bottom cage doesn’t work or isn’t an option, some people slip a few ice cubes under a broody hen a couple of times a day, which can result in cooling her temperature and making her “nest” undesirable.
  5. Similar to the ice cube method, some people have found success by simply dunking the hen’s underside in a shallow dish of cool water.
5 tips to break a broody hen

 

 

These are just a few quick tips that many chicken owners have found useful when breaking a hen of her broodiness, but there are a lot of techniques out there.

If changing your hen’s environment and cooling down her body temperature don’t work, try asking some experienced chicken owners if they have any suggestions. If YOU are an experienced owner and have developed your own methods for breaking a broody hen, please post them in the comments. We would love to hear your ideas!

 

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