After having three chickens go broody, I’m finally getting a handle on it. There’s nothing like real life experience to show you the way!
In case you’re wondering what going broody means, it’s when a hen’s body tells her it’s time to hatch out babies. This can be quite desirable if you want to add to your flock. I would love to let my ladies hatch out some chicks one of these days. But, unfortunately, I’m not allowed to have roosters where I live.
The downsides of having a chicken go broody is that she gets moody. She will make unbelievable noises and some will even get aggressive towards people, especially if you try and take her eggs away. None of mine have been aggressive; I can easily take away the eggs or pick them up without being pecked. But, they do act very strangely, and it seems to be contagious! With only a few nest boxes, that just won’t work here. Broody hens also won’t eat or drink as much as they should, while they focus primarily on taking care of their clutch of eggs.
I’ve read many ways to break a hen of being broody. Some don’t make too much sense to me, and I see no reason to be cruel to my hens. I’ve found removing them from the comfy life and putting them in a situation which tells their bodies it’s not a good time to raise a family is the way to go. For my situation, that means a large wire dog kennel (which I have outside in the run) with the basic necessities such as water, food and a perch, all in a safe area. I make sure there is cover, so they aren’t directly in the rain or sun. They don’t get the goodies the other ladies get, just the basic feed. They don’t get to free range and there is no nesting box.
I’ll admit, I had a hard time leaving the hen in it for more than a day. But any less than three days didn’t work; she’d just go right back to the nesting box and continue with the broodiness. Three days and nights in the broody breaker (aka dog kennel) works like a charm! When she is let out, she acts like her ol’ self and is happy to be back with the gang, scratching, pecking, and making her happy sounds.
I’ve had chickens for less than two years and I’ve learned more than I could have thought possible. I think one of the reasons I like keeping chickens so much is that the learning never stops. I hope your learning adventures are as enjoyable as mine!