Posted by californiahatchery.com on 2/15/2019 to Raising Backyard Chickens
Raising backyard chickens comes with responsibility for caring for your broody chickens, and learning about their natural behavior when in comes to your hen sitting on eggs all day long. Backyard chicken owners new to raising chickens may ask, what is a broody chicken? You may notice your hens laying in their nesting pen, refusing to leave. This article explains their occasional behavior changes when your hens simply wants to hatch her eggs.
What does "Broody" mean?- The term "broody hen" refers to a chicken hen with instinctual behavior to hatch her eggs, so she will sit on her eggs all day long attempting to hatch them. Broody hens may seem agitated when you approach them, as their sole focus is to hatch their eggs, even if her eggs aren't fertile. This behavior becomes clear when hens squawk and ruffle their feathers when you approach their nest, attempt to peck at you when you are close to their eggs, and remove some of their feathers to heat their eggs quicker. Some hens will even lay on other egg shaped objects when broody, such as rocks or backyard decorations. This behavior change is caused by a variety of factors ranging from hormones, seasonality, and natural chicken instinct.
Why do Hens get Broody?- Hens become broody when they are one and a half to three years of age, and their behavior change may return from one laying season to the next, typically in the springtime when your hens starts laying the bulk of her eggs for the year. It's only natural for your hens motherly instincts to take place during laying season. Additionally, genetic factors have a role to play in your hens broodiness- with some breeds being more broody that others. Some of the most broody chicken breeds include silkie chickens and cochin chickens. Of course, backyard chicken owners are fond of their broody hens, and want to stop their hens broodiness out of compassion. This is a good perspective to have, as broodiness is natural chicken behavior, and is not a problem for most backyard flocks.
How to Stop a Chicken from Brooding?- If your hens broody behavior becomes a nuisance, here is some advice to change her attitude:
Remove your hen from the nesting box and close the door to the nesting box- While your hen won't forget about her eggs and her desire to hatch them, simply creating some distance from her eggs may alleviate some of her broodiness. You can also create a separate nesting box for her to return to without the eggs, changing her environment to relax her broodiness. This strategy is especially effective towards the evening, as she will be more calm and less likely to relocate her eggs at night.
If environmental change isn't enough to stop your hen's broody behavior, another strategy is placing a bag of frozen peas in her nesting box for her to lay on top, reducing her body temperature may stop her broodiness and desire to hatch her eggs. This environmental change may be just what the doctor ordered, letting her know that its time to calm down and relax.
If environmental temperature change doesn't work, the last resort may be to isolate your hen in an isolated cage for a day, providing limited bedding. Of course, you will need to make sure she has plenty of food, water, and care that her isolation cage is placed in a safe environment with plenty of sunlight. This strategy is not recommended if you live in an area with natural predators, so please take care when isolating your broody hen.
If none of these strategies work for you, you may have to let your hens broodiness run its course, this could last for a few days and up to one month. Eventually, with plenty of socialization your hen will return to normal behavior.
Do you have stories about your broody hens you'd like to share? If so, please feel free to comment below.