Whether you are new to owning a hen or you are trying to learn more about your lady chicken, broodiness can be a difficult speedbump that could affect her egg production, and might even start to affect other chickens in your yard. Your friends at Bayshore Animal Hospital & Avian Practice want to help you figure out the best way to help your broody hen so she returns to her usual, feathery self.
Why Do Hens Get Broody?
A hen who wants to be present when her eggs hatch is considered broody. This often happens as the chicken ages, but it can also be a result of longer days, which means many people have broody hens in the summer. The increased sunlight causes a hen’s body to release prolactin, which is a hormone that can lead to broodiness. Certain breeds, like Cochins, Silkies, and Orpingtons, are genetically prone to broodiness as well.
How Can You Tell You Have a Broody Hen?
Broody hens will display certain behaviors that can clue you into their current state of mind. If you notice any of the following, you are probably dealing with a broody chicken:
- Making a new nest in a dark place
- Spending almost all of her time in this nest
- Adding sticks and feathers to her nest (sometimes even plucking some of her own) to keep the eggs warm
- Displaying negative reactions to you; she might growl or even peck at you
- Puffing up her feathers to make herself look bigger
- Ceasing to eat as much, which could lead to weight loss
If your hen is excessively broody, there is even a chance she could starve herself to death, which is why it is important to break the broodiness before it goes too far and spreads through your flock.
Breaking a Broody Hen
Once you’ve determined that your hen is broody, there are some simple steps you can take to break the behavior:
- Take her out of the nest: Physically removing your hen from the nest is the first step to changing this behavior. You might have to encourage her to stay out of it by giving her treats or picking her up and placing her with the rest of your chickens.
- Remove the nest: Removing your hen from the nest is not enough to solve the broodiness; you also have to get rid of the nest. Whether you close it up so she cannot return or remove it completely, often times this step will break the broodiness.
- Try a cool bath: Cooling down your hen’s underside can often break the broodiness because it severs her warming connection to the nest.
- Visit your St. Petersburg veterinarian: If you are still having problems with your broody hen, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so we can see if there are other issues at play that might be affecting your hen’s attitude.
The team at Bayshore Animal Hospital & Avian Practice is always happy to help you ensure your chickens are living their best lives. Call (727) 381‑3900 if you have questions about your flock or you want to schedule a wellness visit.