How to break a broody hen

Quit hogging the nesting box!I’ve been looking into this recently, since one of our hens, a Welsummer, is passing the typical three-week window of broodiness. Here are three of the most common methods we’ve found for breaking a hen’s broody mood:

  1. Put the hen in a small cage with a wire bottom (at least 1″ square openings) and elevate it off the ground so that cool air can circulate underneath. Include food and water, of course. It may take a few days in solitary to do the trick.
  2. After dark, move the hen from her nesting box onto the perch with the rest of the flock, and block her access back into the nesting box for the night. It may take a few nights of doing this to see results.
  3. Dunk the hen in a bucket of cool water up to her neck. Some claim luck with this, others not.

All these methods have something to do with cooling down the temperature of the hen’s chest. There’s also always the option of finding someone with fertile eggs to hatch and letting your hen do the job. It’s worth noting too that some breeds (Buff Orpingtons, for instance) go broody more often than others.

From a coop design standpoint, this is where an extra nesting box can come in handy. When a hen is broody, she will not want to get out of her box. That leaves the others either searching for a new place to lay their eggs or — as we’ve seen with our flock — to climb into the box with the broody hen and lay their eggs there anyway.

Strange birds.

Have you successfully broken a broody hen? How’d you do it? And if you couldn’t snap her out of it, what happened next? Leave a reply and let us know!


2 thoughts on “How to break a broody hen”

  1. I have managed to discourage one or two by placing a couple of ice cubes / those plastic shapes that you freeze for drinks under the broody hen. It gets a bit chilly!


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