Turning Broody Hens

Broodiness in chickens is something most keepers will come across at some time. Most chickens will go broody at some time. It is most common when the weather warms in spring and when chickens are in their second season, but there are always exceptions to the rule. Some breeds are more prone to broodiness than others with broodiness being an undesirable trait that has been bred out of commercial hybrids to a large extent and birds like the silkie having a reputation for being a very reliable if small broody hen.

Turning broody hen away from their nesting instincts can be very difficult. some will leave the nest if the eggs are removed or if they are removed for 1 night and others take a full 3 days and 4 nights to break the habit.It may be necessary to cover the entrance to the nest box for a few days to prevent her return. The most important thing to remember when discouraging a broody hen is not to leave her sit. The longer she is left on the nest, the longer it will take to stop her being broody. she may also be a bit bad tempered for a few days.

We have had success using a few ice cubes under a broody hen, it is cold and wet and helps lower their body temperature which can turn them of a nest very quickly. Just remove any eggs and add a handful of ice cubes, stand back and watch, it usually works in under 2 minutes.

A hen that has been broody will stop laying for anything up to 6 weeks although this is not necessarily a problem as they tend to lay a bit later in the season to compensate.

A coloured plastic leg ring is a good idea for identification at a glance