How to Change a Broody Hen’s Behavior

A broody hen is a hen that becomes obsessed with sitting on her eggs until they hatch, even if they’re not fertilized. While this might seem like a positive behavior on the surface, it’s not good if the hen keeps you from collecting unfertilized eggs. Broody hens can become very aggressive if you attempt to take their eggs away from them, even if they’re typically relaxed and docile. Additionally, broody hens will often refuse to do anything except sit on their eggs and wait for them to hatch.

Today we’ll look at a few ways to break your broody hen’s bad habit.

Start collecting eggs from your hen more often.

If you only collect eggs from your hen once a day, you might want to start checking in more often so that she doesn’t have time to form a connection with the eggs. If the eggs are allowed to sit in a nesting box for too long, a broody hen may become protective of them and not allow you to collect them. Try collecting eggs several times a day to avoid this scenario.

Isolate the hen for a few days. 

You might feel bad sticking a broody hen in a cage for more than a few hours, but in this case it might be for her own good. By forcing her to spend time away from her nesting box, you will usually be able to break the habit in just a day or two. Just make sure the cage is located in a well-lit and comfortable area. Once the broody hen has calmed down, let her loose and monitor her behavior. As long as she doesn’t become aggressive or run right back to her nesting box, you have successfully changed her broody behavior.

Remove the hen from the coop when she sits on her eggs.

This is often referred to as the “boomerang” method, and it works well in some cases. Much like the step listed above, it involves removing a hen from her eggs and taking her out of the coop over and over again until her behavior changes. She will probably run back to her nesting box at first, but over time she may become less broody and start focusing on other things. Your success rate with this method will depend on the disposition of the hen in question.

Stay tuned for more updates from the folks at Chickens for Backyards!