(pictured above)What on earth is going on in my nest boxes? Has someone decided to take up residence in there, hogs the nestbox and then growls at you when you dare to want to collect the eggs that she is hoarding ? Yes ! She's broody and her mothering instinct is so strong she's ready to tear strips off you or give you a beakful of noise at the very least.
Broody hens are a wonderful addition to your flock, but they can also be mightily annoying. They will dominate a nestbox for weeks at a time, only getting up to poop and eat once a day before returning to the nest box. Other hens are often irritated by it and issues can occur.
This is the wonderful aspects of broody hens. It is this dedication to the task of sitting on their eggs that makes them successful mothers. I have one particular hen, a Coronation Sussex cross (pictured above, now lovingly nicknamed "Mumma hen") who is about 3 years old. She has successfully hatched and raised many batches of babies over the years. She's reliable and dedicated. When she goes broody, I am always tempted to give her some fertile eggs. She has also been a successful adoptive mother too, which is another wonderful trait of a good broody hen.
Other hens go broody and have failed to successful raise their young. Some broody hens can sit for weeks on their eggs then unceremoniously kill their young as they hatch. Others are hopeless at remaining sitting and get up too often that their eggs are no longer viable.
I have every type of broody hen in my flock. What I have found over the years is that if you have a good broody hen, fantastic, give her the fertile eggs. If any other hens go broody... it's time for the broody breaker.
I have tried every trick "under the sun" over the years for breaking broodies. Dunk them in a water bath, give them fertile eggs, routinely kick them off the nest several times a day, isolate them into another cage, get them up off the ground for air to circulate under them. I have asked any person with any sort of chicken expertise for their tips and tricks and then have dutifully carried them out... with limited success.
Like all advice and research, occasionally you comes across advice that you find works..... and works again..... and what do you know ? I think this really does work !! :-)
For breaking broodies, I was once told this: isolate the hen, put her in a cage, up off the ground so that air can circulate (yes, heard that one many times), for 4 days or so, with water but NO FOOD.
What! no food? How can I do that ?
I have done it many times over the years. I usually add nutrients to their water though.
I know it might sound cruel, but those of you who have struggled repeatedly with persistent broodies and just had no luck no matter what you've tried. Try it.
None of my hens have suffered ill health as a result.
I find that after the time in isolation, they return to the flock, head straight to the feeder and NOT to the nesting boxes.
Time and time again this has worked for me.
I hope it works for you too.
It all started with young girls’ upbringing in a country town and her devotion and affinity with animals.