Will a broody hen stop on her own?

by Michelle
(Battle Ground)

Question

Will a broody hen stop on her own? We have a frizzle that is broody. Will she just stop this on her own or should we be doing something for her? How long does it typically last, and how often does it happen? We have no roosters in our flock.

Answer
A hen can go broody weather eggs are fertilized or not. Aggressive noises and pecking at people is a sure sign that your hen is broody. If you are not wanting your hen to hatch chicks it is usually a good idea to break your hen of her broodiness. It is not good for the health of your hen to be broody for long periods at a time. Broody hens will want to stay in their nest all day and leave only to eat, drink and use the bathroom. " Breaking Up" a broody hen can be done using several different methods. If the first one does not work then go to the next one.

Here are a few ways to "break up" a broody hen:

  • Put her in a separate pen (no eggs) away from her old nest for four to five days.
  • Put her in a cage with a wire bottom. This will help cool her underside. Do this for a few days.

  • Try putting several ice cubes under her. This may take two to three times but I have been told it works.

  • Put her in a pen with a very aggressive rooster. The rooster will try and mate with her, not giving her a chance to be still.

  • Dunking her in a cool pale of water (not to cold) has been known to work.




  • The Idea is to bring her brooding temperature down and hopefully she will stop being broody.

    There are some people who will withhold food and water. I believe this is very cruel and do not advise this. Always have fresh water and food available at all times.

    A hen can go broody at anytime. Some hens are more broody than others. Frizzles have a tendency to be more broody than most other hens. Dealing with broody hens is part of the chicken experience. I am sure this will not be your last broody hen.

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    Rhode Island Red Hen

    by Alex Tobing
    (Olney MD )

    Question
    White Rhode island red Hen like growls when I come near her. I picked her up and there are no eggs.

    She is not sitting, but the feathers are ruffled and tail feathers are up. Please help with diagnosis!

    Answer
    This sounds like a “broody” hen. A hen can go broody just about any time of year. It sounds like she wants to be setting on some eggs, even though there are none.

    I would imagine that you collect your chickens’ eggs regularly, but this won’t stop some hens from experiencing a cycle of broodiness. During that time a hen doesn’t lay more eggs.

    She would have laid out a number of eggs that she would incubate in her nest for 21 days. To continue to add to these eggs would cause delayed hatching of the newest eggs or it could overcrowd the nest causing heat loss and low hatch rate.

    Generally, when most of a clutch has hatched, the hen will leave any unhatched eggs and lead the hatched, dry, and active chicks from the nesting area to find them food and water, usually in the first 24 hours.

    I think I can interpret what your white hen is saying when she growls at you. In her mind eggs are her babies. She is trying to tell you to quit taking her eggs away.

    The broodiness will pass, you might want to bring some food and water near her in the cubical. Some hens have such a strong instinct to set they may not leave the nest to eat and drink, especially in cold winter temperatures.

    There is no harm in taking her eggs away. Many chicken owners would prize such a hen that wants to set. Many layer/production breeds have had broodiness all but bred out of them.

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    Batam cochin hen young

    Question
    I noticed one of my chickens had been staying in one of the nesting boxes for a couple of weeks and I thought it was because she was trying to nest but tonight I picked her up and found out she has no feathers on her chest down to her rear.

    I have seen her eating but I do not know what is wrong, the rest of my chickens are doing great.


    Answer
    She may just be broody. You didn’t say if she has eggs under her. Some hens go into a strong brooding cycle and will set on an empty nest.

    This is just their natural instinct and I know of no way to stop it. You might try taking her off the nest regularly, out to fresh feed, just to encourage her to get some exercise and eat a little more.

    In some bird species hens will pull some breast feathers to make better contact with the eggs. I’ve never seen a chicken do this, but wouldn’t rule it out.

    I have noticed a few broody hens looking a bit shabby and having fewer feathers on their belly. On the chance there are mites irritating her I would suggest cleaning out all nest boxes, spraying to kill any mites and putting fresh straw or shavings in.

    Spraying the coop and perches for mites would be good, too, after a full clean out of the coop. You might offer her some conditioning or breeder feed. It has more protein and may help her grow the feathers back.

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    Hen stopped laying whats wrong?

    by Christine
    (Fremont, CA)

    Question
    Hen stopped laying whats wrong? She has stopped laying eggs, she stays in the hen house all day laying down.

    When I take her out she will walk around scratching and pecking but then goes right back inside.

    Answer
    It sounds like she is "broody", which is normal this time of year. Most breeds of chickens want to reproduce.

    The hens lay in cycles, stopping to incubate a clutch of eggs as their bodies have been genetically programmed to do.

    Even with no eggs under her she is just following what her hormone changes are dictating. This hen will probably make a good mother, if you want to raise chicks, but if you don't, you can continue to discourage her from staying in all the time.

    Just take her out of the nest and place her outside, remove any eggs under her as often as possible.

    I make it a rule not to take eggs from under laying hens, unless they get broody. Often, a broody hen that is interrupted from setting all day will finally give up and resume her normal routine of laying and foraging.

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