How to Break a Broody Hen: 5 Humane Ways

If you’ve ever had a broody hen, then you know that it can be very difficult to break their brodiness. I am going to share some simple, humane ways that can help get your hen out of her moody state and back to laying eggs. Let's discuss a few easy ways to break a broody hen and get her back to being productive.

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How to Break a Broody Hen: 5 Humane Ways

If you’ve noticed one of your hens being protective or sitting on her eggs for long periods of time, then it’s likely she’s gone broody. A broody hen is a chicken that has become determined to hatch eggs.

A broody hen will take eggs from other hens to sit on them herself.

Broody hens are going to spend the majority of their time sitting on eggs, only rarely getting up for food or water in the beginning and even less as time goes on.

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5 Humane Ways to Break A Broody Hen

These are just a few quick humane tips that many chicken owners have found useful when breaking a hen of her broodiness, but there are a lot of techniques out there depending on how badly you want to break her broodiness.

Removing Eggs

Be sure to remove eggs from under the hen regularly and, if possible, pick her up and set her away from the nesting area while you collect them. A roll-away nesting box is great for keeping eggs out from under hens.

Separate Her From the Nesting Boxes

Create a separate environment for her using a small portable coop or crate. Removing her from the nesting boxes and eggs could help get her out of the broody mindset. Do not give her nesting materials such as shavings or straw. You are trying to make her uncomfortable, and not want to nest.

broody hen

Wire Bottom Cage

Putting her in a cage with a wire bottom, open to the air, can help cool her underside and disengage her from the broody feeling.

Cool Her Off

If using a wire-bottom cage doesn’t work or isn’t an option, some people slip a few ice cubes under a broody hen a couple of times a day, which can result in cooling her temperature and making her “nest” undesirable.

I have been successful in putting my hens, Bantam Brahmas, in a cat carrier in my cool, dark basement with ice packs under it. I rotate the ice packs out a couple of times a day and usually within 48 hours, my hen is no longer broody.

Cold Bath - Silkie Chicken

Cold Bath

Similar to the ice cube method, some people have found success by simply dunking the hen’s underside in a shallow dish of cool water. Usually a couple of times a day over a few days. This is of course along with keeping her away from nesting boxes and eggs.

You might want to read Dealing with A Broody Hen for more information on ways to recognize a broody hen.

Picking the Right Breed

Some breeds of chickens just go broody. Bantam breeds in particular seem to be determined to hatch eggs all year long. Silkies are always broody, and they do make amazing mothers.

If you are looking for egg layers, make sure to see if they are likely to go broody.

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Let Nature Take Its Course

One other thing you might want to consider is simply to let a hen hatch out eggs.

You can give her eggs that are near hatching, and let her finish out the incubation process. You don't have to let her raise the chicks if you are hoping to get her to start laying as soon as possible.

There is also the option of giving a broody hen chicks. Silkies are great at adopting chicks and raising them as their own.

If changing your hen’s environment and cooling down her body temperature doesn’t work, try asking some experienced chicken owners if they have any suggestions. I have tried all these methods and I find some work better with some hens than others.

Sometimes you just need to let them go through their brood, making sure they are getting up and out for food and water until she gets tired of sitting.

*There are other ways to break a broody hen, but I cringe at them and do not do them myself.*

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is it cruel to break a broody hen? Sometimes hens will go broody at strange times, like during the winter, too early in the spring, or in the fall. In these cases, it's best to break her of her broodiness to preserve her health.

    How long will a hen stay broody? Chickens usually stay broody for about 3 weeks, which is how long it takes fertile eggs to hatch. Most of the time, hens will resume their normal behavior after that amount of time. But remember it takes a couple of weeks for them to start laying eggs again after being broody.

    Want More?

    Dealing with A Broody Hen

    Reasons to Love Silkie Chickens

    5 Easy Steps to Incubator Lockdown

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