What is a Broody Hen and How Do You Handle It?

If your hen doesn’t leave her nesting box and she hisses at you as you get near, then this is a sign of a broody hen. If you’re wanting your flock to reproduce, this may be a good sign, but if you’re trying to collect unfertilized eggs, it can cause trouble. But how do you stop it? Here we discuss everything there is know about broody hens and how you can handle them:

What is a broody hen?What is a Broody Hen and How Do You Handle It?

A broody hen is, essentially, a hen that has become obsessed with sitting on and eventually hatching a clutch of eggs. When this occurs, hens become very aggressive, refusing to leave the eggs and pecking or hissing at anyone who comes near. This is good behavior if you have a rooster and want fertilized eggs, but without a rooster, those eggs will remain unfertilized and you won’t be able to collect them.

How to tell if your hen is broody

Breaking a hen of her broody habit depends on you catching it as early as possible. As such, knowing the signs of a broody hen is key.

The first sign is that your hen will begin building a nest in a quiet, dark spot and will spend the majority of time in that very spot. They will only leave it to get food or water.

The second sign is, of course, their broodiness. There is a reason broody hens are called broody–they become easily agitated, pecking and growling at anyone who comes by. They will fluff themselves up to make them appear bigger and even cluck at other hens that they pass by on their way to food or water.

The third and final sign will be changes in their fecal matter. Their feces will become large and infrequent, with a much more foul smell than normal.

How do you handle a broody hen?

The best way to handle a broody hen is to make sure it never happens. You can do this by collecting the eggs as soon as they are laid and not allowing your hens into the nesting box the same day that they lay their eggs. However, this won’t help you if you already have a broody hen. If that’s the case, then follow these steps:

Remove the hen from her nesting box

The first thing that needs to be done is that you need to separate your hen from the eggs. So, remove her from her nesting box and keep her away from it for several days.

Isolate the hen for a few days

Once you’ve removed your hen from her nesting box, you should then isolate her from the rest of the flock as she’s pretty aggressive during this stage and her brooding behavior can spread to the other hens. Keep her in a well-lit, comfortable cage until she’s calmed down, then return her to the rest of the flock. Be sure to monitor her behavior when she returns to the flock, ensuring that she doesn’t head back to the nesting box.

Repeat if necessary

If you find that your hen still runs back to her nesting box, then you’ll likely have to repeat the process as many times as necessary to break the habit. Over time, your hen will become less broody and she will begin to focus on other things.

Still have questions about how to fix your broody hen’s behavior? Then feel free to give Chickens for Backyards a call at 888-412-6715 today.