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Mrs Boss is broody. How to stop a hen being broody

Mrs Boss goes broody frequentlyMrs Boss is one of the original bantams that we bought three years ago. A bantam is a breed of small chicken. As you can see from the photo she is white with pretty black and white feathers around her neck. She reminds me of the portraits of English cavaliers sitting so proud in their lace collars. She also has feathered feet.

When she arrived she was boss, ticking the other hens off if they stepped out of line. But gradually the others fought back and now her demotion is final. She is right at bottom of the pecking order and has a tough time.

Mrs Boss is broody at the moment. This means, as Danny says, “She’s in the mood to raise a brood”. Bantams have a natural tendency for broodiness but this has become a life mission for Mrs Boss. In a way it’s understandable. She can sit in the dark gloom of the nesting box away from the pecking and bullying. The only problem is that if a hen is broody, she does not lay eggs, and Mrs Boss’s small white eggs are the sweetest of them all.

How to stop a hen being broody is fairly simple. If you can prevent her from settling comfortably, she will stop being broody within a week or so. Some hens are fine again after thee days in the broody coop; Mrs Boss is a long termer. The trick is to construct a cage with a floor made of large wire mesh (at least 1″ squares). Put the cage on bricks so that the floor is suspended, keeping the bricks to the outside edges so that she can’t sit on them. Find instructions here on how to make a broody coop. Provide a small drinking fountain and feeder within the cage and pop her in. She will not be able to settle comfortably on the wire mesh floor and within a few days will get over her broodiness.

Mrs Boss hates the broody coop. When we give the other hens treats, such as corn or kitchen scraps, she leaps up and down in her cage in a fury of frustration and rage until she’s given her share. When she has served her time and is released, the first thing that she does is have a long luxurious dust bath.

Tips and tricks:

  • When a hen is broody, the comb on the top of her head changes colour from red to pink. Check the colour of her comb every day when she is in the broody coop. When the comb is red she can be let out of prison and will not immediately return to the nesting box, except to lay an egg. It took me ages to work this out.
  • If you have a broody hen and don’t want to go down the broody coop path, she will probably remain broody for the entire summer. Every morning and evening, it’s vital to lift her out of the nesting box, or wherever she has settled, so that she can eat and drink. Broody hens can starve to death if ignored.

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121 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Caths

    Great to hear about Biddy Blue. She may start laying when the wether gets a bit warmer. Meanwhile if she gets broody, set her on some fertile eggs. Silkies make great mothers.

  2. got your site from sallygardens, my partridge silkie is determined……golf balls are fair game. however as my hens are pets no bother, she is lifted out each day and stays out for ages eatin and drinking, and is happy and well. No eggs so no bother, i only have 6 hens and they are rescues and have laid on and off all winter, and now are great, Let biddy blue(silkie) have her natural way, will mind her anyway.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jenna

    Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment!

  4. Jenna Doll

    I like your blog very much
    Hope you keep on posting great stuff
    regards, jenna
    ps – I just randomly picked one of your posts to say this

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kelly,

    It’s very difficult to give advice long distance. I have had a broody hen who laid an egg in the anti broody coup. Try lifting her off the nest and putting her on the ground outside the hen house. If she returns quickly to the nesting box she is probably going broody. If she is going broody she will eventually stop laying and her comb will go pink.

    We tried leaving a broody hen alone one summer. She was broody for months. This is a palaver as she will put the other hens off lay and you have to lift her off the nest at least twice a day so that she will eat and drink.

  6. thanks for the reply, do broody hens still lay? as the obsession with the nest box makes me think she is going broody, however the eggs are still coming, the comb is still bright red and she doesnt shout at me when i go near her! I may well try the broody coop but if i was to leave her do they ever come out of it themselves if i keep removing the eggs?
    Thanks
    Kelly :O)

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kelly,

    The flattening indicates to me that your hen is going broody. Whether there are eggs underneath her is irrelevant. Hens can go broody at any time of year.

    We have plans for a simple inexpensive anti broody coup here http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/?p=289
    We have had good results with ours. A couple of days might be enough for your hen.

  8. Hi i have a 28wk old silver sussex who is becomming obsessed with the nest box. She used to take roughly an hour to lay an egg but over the last week she is staying in there for hours at a time even though there are no eggs under her, she flattens her self out and wont budge ( she has continued to lay and her comb is still red)do you think she is broody or is it unlikely to be this at we are almost into december. Please help

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kattim,

    The only way to stop your hen being broody is to put her in an anti broody cage. These are easily (under an hour) and cheaply constructed. I have found that they work well. Our latest broody hen spent 2 days in the coop and was no longer broody. Mrs Boss takes a bit longer to turn the corner. You can find our free anti broody coup plans here – http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/?p=289

    The longer that you leave a broody hen to brood the harder it is to break the condition. If you leave her she could remain broody for the rest of the summer.

    I have noticed that the broody hens are often at the bottom of the pecking order. Perhaps the two are related?

  10. one of my welsomers was broody when I went on holiday some five weeks ago, my son locked her out of the nesting box which she had taken over completelym for 3 days.When I came back, I let her back in the nesting box and she immediately went back to being broody. I have now put her in a seperate box with a small run on the garden,she can see the other hens, but will not come out, I have to lift her out and she barely drinks or eats!The other hens have started to lay again (thank goodness), what will I do now with my broody hen (she was getting terribly bullied and pecked by the others).

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