How to break a broody hen? Well, it’s a common question for most of the chicken raisers who don’t want their hen to sit on her eggs.
If you have an incubator, and you want to hatch eggs in it, then stopping the hen from getting broody is a good idea. Incubator is good because generally, it hatches 100% eggs.
This avoids early chicks mortality and the hen keep laying eggs for you. Breaking a broody hen is done in most of the cases where you want plenty of eggs for breeding purposes.
Also read: Best incubators for hatching eggs
What Does a Broody Hen Mean?
A broody hen is a hen that was laying eggs and now sitting on her eggs. She may resist your efforts to remove the eggs, sit on them and try to hatch them herself. Such behavior is called broody.
When the hen again and again go for sitting to warm her eggs for hatching, she is called a broody hen. In this guide, we will explain all about stopping the hen from sitting on her eggs.
Why Do You Want to Stop a Broody Hen? — Few Reasons
At times, a broody hen may make a great mother and hatch some or all of the eggs. That’s what you want!
However, if you want to sell the eggs or hatch them yourself, the broody hen is just wasting time and preventing other hens from laying eggs. Sitting for half the time also damage the egg from inside.
Either you should allow her to sit on her eggs or avoid them totally by removing all the eggs as soon as possible from her nesting box.
Occasionally, the hen even gets aggressive or nasty towards her flock mates. So, it’s a good idea to break a broody hen and get her back into laying mode. You can also read our guide on aggressive rooster.
Below are some top reasons why you may need to break a broody hen.
1. If you want eggs, not chicks
If you intend to sell the eggs, then you obviously don’t want the hen to incubate them. You miss out on an income when she does that. The hen will stop laying eggs during the brooding period, so you will not be able to sell eggs.
2. If you don’t have enough space for a broody hen with chicks
Removing a broody hen from the coop means you can start collecting her eggs. You don’t need chicks, then this is a great idea to make money in a limited space by selling eggs.
You can keep 2-3 hens and start collecting their eggs after 4-5 months until 2-4 years. They do not need a rooster if you don’t want matured eggs for breeding.
3. If you can’t afford to buy eggs
If you have a broody hen that’s not laying eggs, and you can’t afford fresh eggs, you should quickly and effectively get her out of broodiness. The longer she stays in that state, the more she will pay for herself – and the less profit you make from her eggs.
4. If you don’t want a broody hen in your backyard
Broody hens are territorial, aggressive, and noisy. They destroy lawns, water features and plants with droppings and waste.
They can also attack other chickens that get in the way of their chicks or eggs. So, it’s important to know if you have enough space to have a broody hen in your backyard.
It’s clear, if you don’t want a broody hen for any reason, it’s time to make her hard to sit on her eggs.
5. If the hen is a bad mother
If the hen does hatch and raise her chicks, she can still be a bad mother. Here’s a list of bad broody hen’s symptom:
If a broody hen will peck at her chicks, so you have to watch them carefully. She may also prod her chicks with her foot or bite them because she thinks they’re too big or old.
You may need to separate baby chicks and rear them yourself, since this is not normal and could harm the chicks. A broody hen may be a bad mother because she’s sick, weak, or not a good mother to begin with.
This could also get more serious if the hen dies or left her chicks in early stage. You can easily check to see if the hen is a good mother who has successfully raised chicks by looking underneath the nest.
The chicks should be active, moving around and not shivering or shaking. Otherwise, you may need a good quality poultry heater to keep them warm.
If the hen still refuses to leave her chicks, you need to be careful, as she may attack you when you try to remove them. If this is the case, then you should put a cage around the nest (make sure it’s safe) and wait until the chicks get old enough to survive on their own.
6. If the eggs are not fertile or rotten
If a broody hen’s eggs are not fertile, you have to break her. If it’s too late, and she’s already incubated the eggs, you probably ended up with a rotten egg or many chicks that don’t hatch. Remove the rotten eggs from the nesting coop, and she will start laying eggs withing a few days.
7. If you want to control the hen population
Breaking a broody hen means that you will have the number of eggs you want when you want them. Chicks that hatch because of it can be sold or given away.
If you run out of space or aren’t ready to let a hen become a mother, breaking her means that she won’t hatch more eggs and will eventually stop breeding.
8. If your flock is in danger due to a broody hen
If your broody hen gets aggressive towards other hens, you may need to remove her. Occasionally, this starts with just a simple loss of egg production, since the bird has started to sit on the eggs instead of waiting for them to hatch.
Any aggression could turn into an outright fight if left unaddressed. In such conditions, a broody hen may kill or injure another hen, or even herself.
7 Best Ways to Break a Broody Hen
There are many ways to break a broody hen, but some methods are better than others. Here are 7 proven tips on how you should go about it.
1. Keep the broody hen out of the nesting box
If your hen is aggressive, keep her out of the nesting box. You can even put a cage around the box. This will discourage her from laying eggs and incubating them.
If she doesn’t stay out, you can either lock her outside in a chicken coop or run for the day, or put her in another section of the coop.
One thing to remember is that you should never lock a broody hen in a coop with chicks. The mother hen may not take it well and hurt her chicks because of it.
2. Stop the hen to go inside the coop
Occasionally, a broody hen will sit on a nest, but won’t lay. She may not even let you touch it.
You can try to feed her manually or give the other food that she wants. If you found a broody hen on your patio, outside the coop or on your path with an egg, keep her away from the coop for a few days.
This means that she won’t feel comfortable around the nest. She won’t understand why you don’t let her in and will keep looking for a way to get back inside.
3. Keep the broody hen in a new shed
Another way to break a broody hen is to move her to a new shed. A broody hen will usually fight the others in the coop and make more noise than usual.
If there’s already a broody hen in the coop, it’s not always easy to tell which one it is. If you have only one hen that isn’t laying eggs, you can refocus her attention on laying again by moving her elsewhere (or locking her).
4. By cooling down her body
To get the broody hen to stop incubating, you can make a change in her environment. The best way to do it is by cooling down her body temperature.
You can do this by putting ice packs in the nesting box and around her body. The cool temperature will send a signal to her brain telling her that she’s not going to be incubating eggs. You can also dip it in ice water, but this may take longer to be effective.
5. Distract the hen
You can break a broody hen by making it physically uncomfortable for her to stick around. The best way to do it is by putting something in the nest box that’s not soft or isn’t warm enough (depending on the climate).
A few examples of things you can use are rocks, beer bottle caps, small wicker baskets, plastic cups and more. If you do it intending to make her uncomfortable, you can even put several ice cubes in the nesting box.
6. Keep the broody hen in a cage
This is not something recommended doing regularly. This is one of the best ways to get a broody hen out of the nest and stop her egg laying.
You may experience some aggression and fighting, but if you don’t want a broody hen in your backyard, then it’s definitely worth it.
Using a cage will give her the impression that she’s trapped and needs to be free again. If you put it in a chicken run, you may want to make sure the run is big enough.
If you decide to use this method with a broody hen, then do it when she’s still on the nest. The best time to do this is on a warm day when she’s still in the nest.
7. Collect eggs daily
This is a simple way to break a broody hen, and it’s easy to do. If the hen is not too aggressive, this is the best way to get her out of the nest by collecting her eggs daily.
The best time to collect the eggs is every other day. Broody hens always keep watching to fill their nesting box to sit on them. It’s your job to take all eggs except one to train her for filling more eggs in correct area.
Is stopping a broody hen a good idea?
There are many reasons why stopping her from laying eggs is a good idea. If you don’t want chicks or the hen is not caring her chicks properly, it’s time to keep the broody hen away from the chicks and eggs.
Will broody hen adopt chicks?
Yes, broody hen adopt chicks if they are already raising one or two baby chicks. If you give baby chicks to a newly sitting broody hen, she will kill those baby chicks.
So, remember to mix those orphan baby chicks with already raising baby chicks, then only the broody hen will raise them.
Some broody hens do not adopt other baby chicks, they easily differentiate their kids and others. In this type of case, avoid giving orphan chicks to that hen; otherwise she will kill them.
How long can a broody hen be off eggs?
Most of the hen keep laying 16-18 eggs, then they sit on them. Some start sitting at 5 eggs. So, It is very hard to say the specific days when a broody hen be off eggs.
Therefore, if you want to make her away from her eggs, keep an eye on her sitting. When she starts sitting on her eggs, just take all the eggs from the nesting box.
She will live a few days and again start laying eggs in a new place.
So, we get the conclusion that it’s easy to break a broody hen if you follow some easy tips. Just removing the hen is not enough.
Moreover, don’t try to give baby chicks of other hens to another broody hen if she would rather not raise them. Otherwise, the second hen will kill the other’s baby chicks.
Only stop a broody hen if you don’t want your hen to hatch her eggs and keep egg laying. I hope you liked this definitive guide to break a broody hen.
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