Occasionally one of our hens goes broody, even though we use breeds that are not supposed to, and for that reason, I don't trust them to follow through. I would love to let them hatch some chicks, but I don't want to have to look after those chicks or waste the eggs if the hens change their minds after a couple of weeks of sitting.
Broody hens also stop the other hens from laying, as they can be very protective and grumpy (sometimes to the point of pecking me when I try to collect the eggs), they hog the nesting areas and chase away other hens who end up laying on the ground.
Unfortunately I've found that is its best to get them out of their broodiness as soon as possible just so that things can go back to normal. Of course, if you wanted to use a broody hen to hatch some eggs, this would be a good time to slip some fertile eggs under them and let nature take its course.
The best way to "break" a broody hen is to separate the broody hen from the rest of the flock, in another cage with food and water, for a few days. Eventually she will forget her broodiness and will be back to normal when reintroduced to her mates.
At one stage we were told to put the hen in a small cage and hang it up in the shade, as the cool air blowing over her is supposed to reduce the urge to hatch eggs. We did do that for a while, when we had a suitable place to hang the cage, but these days we just put the hen in one of our spare chicken tractors for a few days and that seems to work just as good.
I have also been told to put ice under the hen to cool her down, I haven't tried that one. There is some science behind all of this, as the broody hen has a higher body temperature, so cooling her down helps to reset her back to normal behaviour.
How do you deal with broody hens?
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