Help! Does anyone know how to ‘cure’ a broody chicken?
Molly (our cuckoo leghorn) has gone broody, and given her way would spend all day up in the roost area of our chicken tractor. The photo shows the roost with the access door open – she gets cranky and pecks me if I try to move her.
I’ve been putting her out every morning and blocking the entrance to the roost until evening, but then she just makes a hole in the ground and sits in that all day. She’s been broody since about Christmas Day, and hasn’t laid any eggs in that time. She isn’t sitting on any, either.
My dad said when he was a kid people would put broody chickens in a sugar sack and hang them from the clothesline, and that would soon sort them out. I’m not sure that would be accepted practice nowadays :-).
Please give me your (hopefully more humane) suggestions below!
Update: Another way to deal with a broody chicken is to get some fertile eggs and allow her to raise some chicks. It’s a great way to get replacement layers as your flock ages, and it’s a great experience for kids. If you’re in the Illawarra, I can sell you fertile eggs cheaply and will happily take back any unwanted roosters or surplus hens that hatch. See my alternative broody hen solution for more info.
Broody chooks can be frustrating. A few suggestions for you, you can dunk her head in cold water. Just be sure it is a warm day so she will not catch a chill and can sufficently dry out before night time. Or else instead of a sugar sack, a wire bottom cage strung up up a shady tree may work. The idea with this one is to get the cool air on her bottom.
I hope she snaps out of it soon for you. Emily
Thanks for the tips! It’s a bit cold and wet here at the moment, so when it fines up I’ll give them a go.
When I was a kid we made a little round cage out of chicken wire and separated the chook from the others and the nest. After a few days (if I remember correctly!) she stopped being clucky. She’d been clucky for so long though, I kinda missed it. 🙂
Hi Manda! Thanks for the advice. I think excluding her from the nest is starting to work. Someone also suggested I put ice cubes under her, to make it uncomfortable for her when she makes a nest on the ground. Might try that as well.
We recently tried locking our broody chook out, getting eggs as soon as they’d been laid, and even a separate little home for her with air coming up to stop her being warm and comfy – but this seemed a little cruel so we packed her off to visit a friend’s chooks for a couple of weeks. The change in scenery worked, and she’s come back with all broodiness banished.
I’m finding the same thing, Kathi – all the cures seem to be around making her uncomfortable, which seems a little cruel. I didn’t try the dunking and ice, because we had some cool weather and rain. Once that passed, she has been leaving the roost during the day, and only coming back for a sit occasionally. I think she’s snapping out of it. Still not laying again, though :-(.
We have serial broodies here. At first, we tried to snap them out of it by using the method of putting them in a cage with a wire bottom, with water, and leaving them there to cool down. Some breeds though, will just keep on an egg laying-broody-moulting-egglying-broody-moulting cycle and so we’ve decided to go with the flow and leave them. I’m all for having breeds that need preserving so we have mixed in a few standards (our latest chick is a Rhode Island Red) to keep egg production up when the others inevitably go down. I’ve thought about loaning her out for people who want to hatch chicks and actually that’s what Lucy C from Blue Mountains Menagerie did. It’s just in their nature after all – as a broody woman myself I’m sympathetic!!
In the end we pretty much just left her to go through the broody process in her own time. She seems to be back to normal now, although the egg-laying hasn’t returned yet. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that she’s our only layer! Hopefully the silkies will get their act together soon :-).
That is rather strange for a leghorn to go broody! aA good family trick is to make her hungry all the time only feed her once a day when she is desperate in a uncomfortable coop she will soon be of the idea !
Good luck ps did she copy it off the silkies!
@Miles: She’s only gone broody the once, but she does stop and start laying every month or two. I’m planting some rocket to feed her – I read somewhere that it will help keep them laying.
what is the rocket u will plant 4 broody chickens? Chickens are broody but not laying any
@beth: Not sure where you’re from, but what we call ‘rocket’ here in Australia is usually called ‘arugula’ in the US. It’s a peppery lettucey type plant often used in salads or as a garnish.
Hi I have 4 hens and they were all laying nicely until Henrietta decided to become broody, now they seem to have all stopped laying, I think I will try the trick of kicking her out of the laying nest during the day to see if that makes a difference, she really has upset the other girls!
@Teresa: The broody one often gets cranky and won’t let the other hens in to lay – either that, or she grabs all their eggs to sit on. If you can, separate her from the rest until she gets over it, or provide the others with alternate laying boxes.
We have one broody hen (cochin) who has decided to do her brooding in the other hens favorite laying box. They have other places to go, but they are mad at her for being in their favorite and have pecked all the feathers off of her back. There is snow on the ground here and we have a small city lot, so a lot of these suggestions won’t work for me. I am worried about her safety and would love any tips on this subject.
@Rian: I love cochins, they’re a magnificent looking bird. We’ve got Brahmas, which are similar, and I’d like to eventually add some cochins to the flock. The only thing I can think of to help you is to move the broody hen to another cage, if possible. I hope it works out for her.
I had a broody hen, she would collect all the eggs laid and sit on them, but the other hens did not bother her. I decided to purchase some fertilised eggs, which she eventually hatched, I separated surrogate mother hen and chicks until they were about 7 weeks old at the same time surrogate mother hen started laying again. They are now altogether and getting on well. Your hen probably needs to be separated and given a fertilised egg to sit on to get it out of her system. Hope this helps!!
@Teresa: I had wanted to do that, but we didn’t have a lot of space at the time for extra chickens. She eventually got over it. Now we’re on a larger block and have a rooster, I want her to go broody but she won’t! Isn’t it always the way? 🙂
I made a washing tub of ice in the freezer, then i put the chicken’s rear end on the ice for about half a second. She may get angry and peck you so be careful, but it worked. As Emily said, try to do it on a warm day so that she soon warms up again.
Yeah all of a sudden 2 of my silkie chickens have gone droody and have been attacking me and laying lots of eggs. She has just totally change like even walking out in the backyeard she runs for me and starts acting me and even my dog and other chickens and she clucks alot as well please help i dont know what to do to get her back to normal!
sorry my mistake broody** not droody and my little silkie chicken has changed colour as well
@Tiana: Sounds serious! I’m trying to picture an aggressive silky while keeping a straight face :-). We have a pair of black silkies – they look like a pair of novelty slippers when they sit together! I can only recommend that you try isolating them in a wire cage off the ground, so they can’t get comfortable and keep sitting. Apparently it only takes a few days of that treatment and they’ll be back to normal. Don’t forget to keep up the food and water during this time.
Thanks for all your advice, I was hoping for something a bit easier for the hen, but the majority seems to advise a wire cage off the ground to cool the hen down. Thanks for all your help! Wish me luck!
@Netty: Good luck! 🙂
If you have a broody hen, but no rooster, buy a couple of fertile eggs and stick them under her. 3 weeks later you’ll have chicks that the mama will raise all on her own. Its quite easy and a wonder to watch, especially for children. Let her be a mama!
BTW, silkies are the BEST mamas!
@Valerie: It’s funny, lots of people tell me that silkies are the best mothers, but I’ve got two and neither has ever shown any interest in going broody. I was told they’d lay about 50 eggs per year, too, but they only laid maybe a couple dozen in the first year and then nothing in the 18 months since. All they do is potter around the yard looking like a pair of novelty slippers!
I did end up slipping some eggs under this hen, though. She broke a few, a few were not fertilised to start with, and none ended up hatching (some had dead chicks in them that never made it). Pity.
my chicken is doing exacally the same as yours. its annoying because she dosent seem to be eating either. having to shut her out. :/
@Danielle: They seem to go into a trance and don’t need to eat, drink or poop much when they’re broody. They can lose weight and deteriorate a bit if it goes on too long, so it’s best to try to ‘break’ them if you don’t have eggs for them to hatch.
Ours went broody a few time during their first 12 months with us, but only for a little while. Quite often they started getting broody if they were late collecting the eggs. We found the key was to separate them from each other, and keep them away from their nest during the day. It seemed to do the job and sounds a bit more pleasant than some of the other options, although free ranging can cause other issues. Here’s our chicken log as we jot down things which are happening with the girls:
We bought our first two Isa Browns in January and one has just gone broody. At this stage I’m trying the Joneses method of kicking her off the nest and shutting her out after she has laid her egg. Both chooks usually lay an egg a day, luckily our other chook lays hers early. My chooks are quite docile, so I just lift the broody chook off her nest, she doesn’t peck, just makes some disapproving noises! The only problem with this method is I need to be home, so on the days I work I can’t shut her out until 5pm. I hope it will still work, as I don’t really want to buy a cage, also with only two chooks they don’t like being separated, they are always together and I think it would be quite stressful for both chooks.
@Lynne: A neighbour of mine has a broody hen at the moment too. Instead of trying to “break” her, we’re trying a different method. I’m giving them some fertilised eggs to put under her. They’ll let her raise a little family, and I’ll happily take back however many of them they don’t want to keep. They certainly don’t want any roosters, and they only want 1 or 2 hens to replace their layers as they get older. But this way, we all win!
i have a broody orpington i do want her to have chicks but it is really cold here now and likly to go down as far as -16 degrees as winter progresses. This will be too cold for chicks wont it? I idealy wanted to wait untill spring.
@Julie: I take it you’re in the northern hemisphere somewhere? Yes, you’ll have a lot more success raising chicks in the spring and summer, with warmer temperatures. If you keep your chickens somewhere warm and protected (e.g. in a polytunnel or barn), you may still have success now though.
I have a broody chook too. i am new to this and after 2 days it went broody, i havent had an egg for 5 days now from this one. i lock her out during the day but she just sits next to the door waiting to go back in. The others wont lay either, i have to sneak them back in after i have got the broody on out, then they lay 3-4 eggs (there are 4 good ones). Very frustrating, will try out some more of these ideas on here i think.
I have 7 chooks, no idea what breed, theres 4 red, 2 white n one black. The reds are sisters and fairly grumpy, one is broody and she’s scary! When I try to rouse her out of there she inflates (puffs up) to three times her size and isn’t afraid to peck. We don’t have another cage to put her in or anything. I think she’s done it before and last time sorted herself out, hopefully she will this time! The whites and black are lovely, but the red ones are aggressive (maybe because they were there first)
I seem to have a variation of this problem…we went away for a week and when we got back there were 18 eggs sitting there which 2 of our 5 chooks were guarding.
We got rid of them but since then have been lucky to get 1 egg a day. its almost like revenge non laying?
They are happy and pecking about and not staying in the box, there just seem to be no eggs?
@Carla: They do stop laying when they go broody, but if they’re not sitting on the nest all the time then they’re not really broody! Hopefully it’ll just take them a few days to get their laying systems started up again. Is it possible they’re going into moult? Some of mine have been doing that lately, and stopped laying. Also check that they’re not hiding their eggs somewhere, especially if they’re allowed to free-range in your yard.
Thanks Darren – have checked the yard and cant find a stash so dont think they are doing that. Its possible 1 is in moult – this morning there were a few white feathers about although I didnt think they did that till winter (im in Australia).
@Carla: I’m in Australia too, and some of my chooks are just finishing their moult. Hopefully your chooks will get back to work soon!
My chicken, Jelly (funny name for a chicken but) shes been sat in the nesting box for at least 20 hours! Last night i lifted her up to put her on the bars to sleep(she did peck me) and when i checked on her in the morning she was back in the nesting box, i dont know how old they have to be, but Jellys not even 1 year old yet! Shes just come out of the nesting box but i think that might be because one of my other chickens may have shoved her out. Is she broody? I dont know:/
@Alix: It sounds like she’s broody, especially if she stays on the nest box during the day.
I have 4 chooks, astralorps, I think and 1 keeps going broody. I finally decided to get some fertilized eggs for her to sit on. I prepared a separate cage with nest but “broody” decided she didn’t like it and escaped back to the other nest. These nests are around 2 feet off the ground, too high for baby chicks. Miss “broody” won’t sit anywhere else. I already have the eggs. What should I do?
@Cathy: I’d let her stay there until the eggs hatch. I’ve tried moving a hen part-way through incubation before, and she abandoned the eggs. Once they hatch you can move her to a separate cage.
Hey i love your post and everything but i suggest that you look up a leghorn chicken because im pretty sure she is a barred pymouth rock. Wish you well that all the eggs hatch!
@Aaurora: I got her from a show breeder who is active in the local poultry club, and that’s what he told me she was. I don’t know enough about the various breeds to positively identify her myself, although I think the white bit on the ear is one of the things that tells you she’s a leghorn. Barred plymouth rocks don’t seem to have that. If you do a Google image search for both “cuckoo leghorn” and “barred plymouth rock”, you’ll see that they do look extremely similar.
Thanks, Darren, for the advice. I might have moved her before the chicks had hatched, so I’m glad you said not to!
Help! My Buff Orpington keeps going broody.!! She did this about a month ago. I separated her, in a pen by her self for a bout 5 days, and it worked, but here she is doing it all over again.? It is a real pain for me to separate her from the rest, as I only have the one coop. Whats the best way to cure this??
@Beth: There are plenty of solutions to try in the comments above, but at the end of the day it’s going to be a constant battle if your hen is prone to broodiness. You could source some fertile eggs and let her raise a clutch of chicks. Failing that, it might be better to get a new hen of a breed not prone to broodiness and get rid of your old hen (assuming you’re not overly attached to her!).
We also have a broody chicken. She’s a Bantam cross and she’s always been inclided to be a little broody at times. However not this bad. She’s bad to the point that she will nest anywhere and doesn’t care if our other chicken lay on top of her head. We’ve been isolating her from them but this too has failed to work because she will nest on the bottom of the hard cage. We’re thinking about giving her some eggs to raise. Any suggestions on how many a teeny little chicken could handle?
@Christine: Giving her some fertile eggs would be a wonderful thing for her. I’d put about 6-8 normal-sized eggs under a bantam. Good luck!
OK I have a lot to say. Chickens can go broody as soon as they start laying. Ice cubes help, and so do tubs of cold water but I prefer the wire bottom cages. They’re more comfortable, and stress makes broodiness last longer. The goal of techniques listed above is not discomfort but to cool the hen whose body temp increases by 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
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