A ‘broody’ hen is one that is intent on rearing chicks. Unless you’re trying to breed your chickens, this isn’t an ideal situation – she’ll be off her food, she’ll jealously protect the eggs she’s incubating, and she’ll seldom move from her chosen nesting spot. It’s not good for birds to remain in this situation for very long, as she’s going to be disappointed – unless she’s been near a rooster within the last week, she’ll be incubating unfertilised eggs which won’t hatch. She may not eat properly or lay within this period, so you might want to take steps to remove her from such a state.
However, there is some disagreement about whether you should try to. Some people suggest that ‘breaking’ a broody hen is bad for them emotionally, and that it’s natural for them to be broody occasionally. However, others suggest that it’s not harmful to the bird, and that as long as you’re gentle, it shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll want to come to your own conclusions before deciding what to do about your broody hen.
Broody hens will rarely want to leave their nests
- Removing the eggs – if you remove all eggs each morning, there’ll be nothing for your hens to incubate.
- Remove her from the nest – if you physically remove your bird from her nest and place her somewhere else in the cage several times a day, she may lose interest and give up.
- Stop her from accessing the nest site – if her nest site is in a remote area of the run, you may want to prevent her from incubating in the spot she’s chosen, so that she can’t physically sit on it. If she’s chosen a very dark spot, there is some evidence to suggest that moving the site so that it’s better lit will encourage her to move. She wants somewhere secluded and safe to raise her chicks, so if the environment becomes unsuitable, she may give up.