Monday, August 30, 2010

How to Break a Broody Hen

We have 2 pullets which are continually broody- Zoner and Bella. 
We let them both raise a batch of babies because they were so pitifully broody - Bella adopted and raised 9 Guinea keets and Zone raised 5 chicks from eggs. 
After their babies were raised both pullets immediately went broody again.  Bella is especially bad about being broody, she has been broody more than not.  Her emotions run high, she is a moody lady.

Broody hens are not good if you don't want babies.  They stop laying eggs, they sit in the nest box in the coop all day and all night, barely getting up at all.  They rarely eat or drink, they lose weight til they are skin and bones, their combs and wattles become brittle due to dehydration.  The coop is warm in the summer, the chickens are very hot sitting there in the coop all day.  Plus, the body temperature of a broody hen raises, making her even hotter.  Bella and Zoner each take a nest box all the time when they are broody, screaming if another pullet comes nearby to lay an egg.  So that makes us down 2 nest boxes, and during the mornings the nest boxes are busy places in our coop. 



Bella on top, Zone below
We decided we had to break the 2 girls from being broody.  Bella especially was getting unhealthy, she was so very thin.

We had been taking both pullets out of the nest boxes whenever we could, giving them treats out in the chicken yard.  But they always ran back to the nest box, screaming at the top of their lungs.  It was as if they thought we took them away from their babies, although they had no babies.

We installed a small fan in the coop, blowing directly onto the nest boxes.  It made the nests cooler, and all the other pullets loved the cooler breezes.  But it didn't break the broody ladies.

We read online to break a broody hen by hanging her in a wire bottom cage so that air can flow underneath.  We really don't have an area available to hang a cage like that.

So we put both Zone and Bella together into their own chicken coop which has no nest boxes, only the floor and perches to stand on.  They had food and water and a fan in their coop, they could hear the other birds outside, but they couldn't leave their coop.  They hated being confined.  A light was put in their coop, making it bright in there from 6am until until well after the sun went down.  In a few days I took both girls outside, they were so happy to be free, out of solitary confinement.  And they were broke from being broody.

So right now we have no broody hens! 
It's been a while since the nest boxes all have been empty at the same time.   


Farm Girl said...

I have been booting mine off the nest too. Though I did tell my husband I had the perfect diet, just lock me in a nest box and I would be skin and bones soon. I keep them locked out all day because they are so skinny. I have 3 that keep it up. I have thought about moving them all to a cage with no boxes, that maybe the next thing I try. Thanks for your timely advice.

Chai Chai said...

This is the second post discussing how to break the broody cycle in hens that I have read.

This is a link the OFG post that also discusses this topic.

This is great information that you are providing, hopefully we won't need to use it. This is one of the reasons why I read blogs like yours, I just learn so much about subjects that I would otherwise be totally clueless about.

Kritter Keeper said...

how interesting...don't have chickens but if husband ever lets me i will be sure to refer back to your blog!!! cute pics!

John Gray said...

broodies are a bugger to break arnt they?

I use a dog crate and out they come all day in it out on the field!!!

one hen I have to give a chick to every year... she just will not be broken!

Lilla said...

I have heard of the hanging cage method too. With our current set-up it would be hard to do that, so I'm glad to hear there is another method that works! I just hope I never have to deal with a broody hen!

Verde Farm said...

Love the Broody Hen story. We have a few ourselves. One of ours stays in a 10 gallon bucket all the time. We move it and she finds it. You look down inside and there she is. Thank you for the story, we need the tips!
-Amy at Verde Farm

Genny said...

What can you do about a BROODY WOMAN? I don't have any urge to sit on a nest but I am crabby. Work is driving me crazy! Does that count?

Leigh said...

Interesting Lynn. I haven't had a broody hen, and am hoping to have at least one for spring chicks. Welsummers rarely go broody and I have three of those. The Delaware maybe. Not sure about the Ameraucanas and Barred Holland. At least I now know what to do if broodiness gets to be a problem. Thanks for the post.

Kris said...

If you dunk their rear ends in a bucket of cold water, that helps too. I just had 2 hens go broody. I would throw them off the nests when ever I saw them on it. But they'd be right back on as soon as I'd turn my back. I read in Hobby Farms how to stop them. That's one thing that worked for me. I have not seen them sitting on a nest since. They need to have their bottoms cooled off to get them to stop. But it looks like you got yours to stop.

Knatolee said...

Good to know, now that we've got that new lot of chickens (and roosters) with the potential for broodiness!

The Chicken Keepers said...

You have such beautiful chickens!

The Chicken Keepers

CeeCee said...

Are the girls still off the nest? I hope so. It's so hard on them to be broody. My broody-going hen would lose half her body weight each time.

Razzberry Corner said...

Farm Girl - I thought I was the only one with crazy broody hens! I don't know why it happens to some hens, but not to others!

Chai Chai - I know, I learn so much from other people's blogs, too! That's how we learn!

Kritter Keeper - Thanks!! You would love chickens, they are too sweet!

John Gray - That's interesting that you have one hen who just can't be broken. That's how Bella was. I'm hoping she doesn't start up on the broodiness again, but I think she may.

Lilla- Isn't it odd how some hens go broody and others never do? Strange.

Amy - That's funny about your hen in the bucket! Silly birds, aren't they? Luckily ours likes our nest boxes!


Razzberry Corner said...

Genny- Lol, my work drives me crazy, too, so I know how you feel! Any news??? I'll have to email you!!

Leigh - Yes, please let me know if any of your pullets go broody. It's interesting how some breeds go broody and others don't. It must be genetic if it goes with the breed.

kris - Thanks for the info, I may try that next time. That's faster than locking them up! Once I took a hose out to the chicken pen and sprayed everyone when it was 100+ for well over a week. I don't remember if I sprayed the broody hens, though, probably not, they were probably in the nest boxes inside.

The Chicken Keepers - Thanks!! :)

CeeCee - yes, so far Zone and bella have not gone broody again, thank goodness! I'm surprised that Bella hasn't gone back. she is perpetually broody. And I'm surprised it broke Zoner, she was only broody for a week this time. So far, so good!


Barb said...

I love your broody hen story. I had one last year that I couldn't break from that nonsense at all. This year, no problem!!! The difference was that my little rooster died over the winter and I never replaced him. I guess Stella thinks it's a total waste of time going broody this year, lol. It's a pity as I'd intended to let her hatch some fertile eggs from another farm this year. Oh well...

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