Before I ever had a hen to go broody, I couldn’t imagine why you would want to stop one from sitting on her eggs. I mean, isn’t it a good thing to have a broody hen?
Well… yes. It is a wonderful thing. Especially since the instinct to sit has been bred out of so many breeds nowadays! But there does come a time when you want it to stop.
Sometimes a hen will sit on a clutch of unfertilized eggs. I’ve even heard of hens sitting so long on a nest that would never hatch that they died waiting there. If you don’t have a rooster in your flock (which is how you get fertilized eggs), and your hen decides she wants to start sitting on a nest, you will need to either break her broodiness up, or find some fertilized eggs to sneak under her.
Another down-side to having a broody hen is that she will stop laying for as long as she’s broody. If you need eggs to eat, and not chicks to hatch, you’ll need to get her out of “the zone” and back to business.
Even if you take all of the eggs out from under her, she may stay there waiting for another hen to lay an egg for her to steal. I’ve even had broody hens sit in a nesting box on nothing at all for weeks! Once they get their mind set on it, it’s hard to break up a broody.
If you have a hen you are ready to get back into production, the best way to get her up and moving about is to remove her from her nest and put her somewhere away from any possible nesting spots.
It is even better if you can put her somewhere with an “active” rooster who will keep her busy and too annoyed to think of settling down. What I like to do is put a broody and a rooster in a movable pen out in the yard. This gets the hen out of the coop and into the fresh air and sunshine. It also allows her to get back into dust bathing and scratching for bugs.
Putting her in a pen with a wire bottom, and no nesting material or boxes, also works. Make sure she has plenty of food and water while she’s kicking the sitting habit.
Sometimes it will take a few days to break her up, but eventually she’ll get over her motherly instinct. You’ll know she’s finished being broody when she stops fluffing her feathers up, and she begins to lay eggs again. Then you can put her back in with the rest of the flock.
Know another trick for breaking up a broody?? Tell me what you’ve found to work best for you!