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Broody Chickens

What is a Broody chicken?

Every so often your hen may go broody, this is more common in pure breeds than hybrids as pure breeds have not been genetically modified to mass produce eggs and they still run on a natural cycle.

A Broody Hen is a hen that has hit a point in her reproductive cycle where she has an overwhelming natural instinct to hatch a clutch of eggs and make chicks.

Sadly, as chickens are not the brightest of creatures this natural instinct is so strong she may sit on an empty nest. This broody period can last anything from 28 days to 3-4 month.

What are the main symptoms of a Broody chicken?

  1. Sudden change in behaviour, not leaving the nesting area, being grumpier than usual and standoffish if you approach her. She may fluff her body up and make a growling noise at you.
  2. Prolonged sitting in one place, usually inside the nesting area, they may only leave this area once a day.
  3. Feather loss, some broody hens will pluck feathers from their body to line their nests to help keep them warmer, the main areas would be from the upper chest and the base of the back. If you cannot see any lice/mites or a skin irritation, then this is the most likely cause.
  4. Reduced food intake, your broody hen will come off her nest once or twice a day to feed but you may notice a dramatic reduction in her food intake.

How to Help your Broody Hen.

There is no treatment that we feel effective for stopping a broody hen. You are fighting her natural instinct and as such she is unlikely to come off the brood easily. The below are some things you can try but, in our experience, she is best left to it and will naturally resume normal behaviour once she has had enough.

Remove all eggs, make sure you don’t leave eggs in the nest as this will make her instinct to sit even stronger, they can also explode if unfertile and get to warm, or go off and smell very bad!

Broody jail, some people report some success with removing the broody hen and placing her in a cage on her own for long periods. This can be effective as a last resort treatment if your hen has been broody for longer than 3 months and you are worried about her loosing too much weight and

Shutting her out the nesting area, however, we feel this can just cause stress as she will become very upset not being able to get back to her nest and will pace up and down in front of the coop door.

Dipping her bottom in cold water, this may be an old wives’ tale, but some people report it working.

Whilst your hen is broody it is important to make sure she gets the nutrients she needs as she will not be eating as much as normal, you can give her our Pipinchick multi vitamin in her water which will boost her immune system, we also have a great Forager treat mix designed specifically for broody hens with lots of extra nutrients, antioxidants and carbohydrates to make sure she gets a good boost whilst broody. You can feed her treats and supplements in the coop, pop a generous handful in a dish and place next to her, you may need to close the coop to allow only her to eat the special treats.

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Face to Face Consultation.

If you are still unsure about the health of your chickens and would like a professional opinion, we now offer live face to face consultations via Zoom, WhatsApp or Facetime, this allows us to have a face-to-face call with you and your chickens. You can show us what’s wrong and we can then offer real-time advice and care tips.

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