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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. I have a Maran who has gone broody twice this summer. I have finally got fed up and made her a wire antibroody coup using odd stuff lying around. Unfortunately she has to be away from the run as the weather is awful but when she has been in for a few days will put the whole thing into the run on a fine day and let her out. Hopefully she’ll be cured.
    She has always been the skinniest,last to start laying and most timid. Does anybody know why there is blood in one egg occasionally..no cockerell!!

  2. Lauren

    Hi, can anybody tell me if broody hens can put others off lay? We have 17 chickens and have two broody ladies at the moment and our daily lay amount has gone down from a regular 14 eggs a day to 9 a day. All the ladies roam a 40ft square area and live in sheds along side ducks and goats. Any advice will be great fully received

    Thanks Lauren

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Lauren

      Yes broody hens can put other hens off lay. They need to be moved to their own space. I have instructions on how to make an anti broody coop here http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/how-to-make-a-broody-coop-for-your-chickens-and-bantams-in-under-an-hour-289. If you don’t want them to sit on eggs it’s best to stop them being broody quickly as they could stay broody for months.

  3. Hi lorna….when you say she’s in a coop.. providing it has a wire bottom to it..no bedding..or cosy place to sit and keep her bum warm…the job will be well done!! the idea is to allow the ‘fresh air’ flowing hence it must be off the ground to! ps I now have another one due for the same treatment if she dosnt buck up!! Good luck

  4. Hi, like many others I have just found this site, it’s brilliant! We have a very broody and now very cross Maran – ‘Legs’ (now in a broody coop)I can hear her as I write! There is great advice on this site and its nice that we can all help each other out. Nice to know there are lets of like minded people out there.

  5. lesley

    Hi fn
    Is that because they’re NOT going back for another dose of that? HA hA
    If thats the case…it was well worth it for everyones sake!

  6. lesley

    i just have to say and after much research..i had a series of broody hens..first i tried the ‘cold water bottom dunking’ (not overly successful)then the quarantine wire cage method…that worked within 48hrs!!! all ladies are back on production as normal!! recommended.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Lesley

      Yes we find that it works very well. Luckily we haven’t had to use it for a couple of years now.

  7. Firstly, I would like to say how usefull this website has been. My partner and I are fairly new chicken owners ( since Aug 09). We tarted off with a Marran, a White sussex and a Bluebell. Unfortunately for us, the Blubell ended up with a gammy eye, and we had to get her put down. To add insult to injury, the white sussex turned out to be a cock! we managed to swap him locally for a couple of black silkies which are lovely to look at and wonderfull little white eggs. Louise went broody first follwed about a month later by Thelma leaving us with one egg a day from the Marran.

    I was then donated some fertile eggs for them to sit on, bt we did not have much joy as some little beastie got into the coop and had 6 out of the 12 eggs. We donned the gardening gloves to rescue the rest of the eggs and put them in a box under a strip light. To my joy on Friday evening we had a chick which we named Lucky. No joy with the rest of the eggs and we still have the chick in the box under a light.

    Just wondered if anyone had any advice on where to go with it? How long will it need to be under a light etc? And the likely hood of it being accepted on its own by the other girls?

    Any advice would be greatly recieved.

    Anne

  8. Gordon

    Hi,

    Bit of advice about my broody hen please! She turned a few weeks ago despite having no eggs to sit on. At the time we had a cock so was hoping the other hen would provide (we lost 4 hens last year to fox)but she went off the lay too. I introduced a new pullet and a couple of bantams whose eggs she was happy to comandeer – even changing nesting box to do so! The cock has subsequently gone to the great chicken pie in the sky due to a foul temper but i hoped the eggs would be fertile. I am moving her every day to eat and drink but she is displaying strange behaviour when out of the house – she has lost a lot of breast feathers and spends the entire tine scratching at her face, wiping her beak on the ground and shaking/fluffing out her feathers whilst makingthe most peculiar calling sound i have never heard before. Is this something i should be cncerned about? Thanks in advance for your time.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Gordon

      Is your hen in contact with hay? This can cause serious respiratory problems. It happened here a year or so ago and we lost a special pullet. She was behaving in the same way as you describe- shaking her head and shrieking strangely. If you are using hay remove it immediately and replace with a thick layer of wood chippings – available from pet shops as bedding for rabbits etc.

      She also need to kept warm and dry and may need a visit to the vet for an antibiotic injection. Worth just giving them a ring to talk it through.

      The breast feathers are nothing to worry about – she is using them to line her nest.

  9. lesley

    I have a broody hen have only had this clutch for about a month..just got in the swing of eggs but shes sitting and giving me the “evils”..going to try the “dog house” cage method when i get round to constructing something..and get brave enough to lift her!!LOL i hope she’ll be excepted back with the others in a day or two..i have such a happy bunch dont wont to upset the status quo!!!

  10. howdy all, its been a while i know.. just to let u know, i re homed my bantams.. the rooster was agressive to wards me.. im not having that, i want them as pets i dont want to fear him.. and henny peeny the femle bantam, she was being picked on.. so i thought that wasnt nice for her, as much as it killed me i found them new home on a farm couple hrs out of my town, they are happy as larry..
    then my other 2, one is leghorn one is a isa brown so i found out recently.. isa brown is olly she lays very well.. up untill just recently.. sunday the leghorn she went off the lay for over 6months.. anyway someone donated me a cage and she spent 2 weeks in it.. day and night.. although towards the end id let her roam in the day in the cage at night etc, coz i felt bad for her.. shes laying again yay.. but then olly stoped.. (typical) so she went straight in the broody cage she laiedin couple days but shes on and off a bit now.. but we r heading into winter and i read thats common.. that they can slow down or stop laying etc..
    but for now im happy they both layin and seem happy, id like to get another 2.. females.. as i wanted 4 chooks.. so i have extra eggs to pass aroun to friends etc.. my ppartner is building me a triangle shaped cage that will hve wheels so i can move it around the yard.. i cant let them roam.. the cats will kill them or the dog.. thats still in process of being made but i thought id use that cage wen the new gurls come along.. set it up near the main coop.. i think i read u cant just chuck them in new.. socail stuff. or somthing.. good ole psychology.

    how is everyone going? hope ya all well.. 🙂

    judz

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