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How to make a broody coop to stop your chickens and bantams being broody (takes 1 hour to make)

broody coup. mark one“Two of my hens are broody.” Bunty was exasperated.
“We’ve got a broody one too.”
This was our first summer of keeping bantams (a small friendly breed of chicken).
Bunty continued, “I wish I hadn’t suggested Bantams. I’ve discovered that they go broody at the drop of a hat.”
Years ago Bunty had kept chickens commercially. Those were a type of chicken bred for laying that rarely go broody.
She thought that she had the answer to our dilemna.
“We need anti broody coops. You’re good at making things. Why don’t you make a couple?”

My heart sank. I thought that they would take hours to make, imagining a sort of dog kennel with a wide gauge wire mesh floor.

To stop a hen being broody you need to stop her from settling comfortably. The trick is to construct a cage with a floor made of large wire mesh ( with at least 1 inches squares). Set 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. Provide a small drinking fountain and feeder within the cage and pop her in. She won’t be able to settle on the wire mesh floor and within a few days will get over her broodiness.

I went to bed early and woke at four. In the still cold light I realised that the entire cage could be made of wire mesh. I went to the garden centre after breakfast and bought three sheets of wire mesh measuring 90cm x 60cm. The cage is 60 cm long and 43 cm high and 43 cm wide This allows for an overlap at the joins.

Our broody coop is simple to make. Lay the wire on a flat surface, and bend 2 cm of wire mesh to a 90 degree angle along a 60 cm side. Then lift the opposite end and press it into the angled flap. Press firmly on the bulgy end and fold flat to make a clean angle and pull the ends apart. You now have the floor and one side. Repeat the operation for the roof and the other side.The flap may seem a bit fiddly but it makes the cage much more rigid and stable.

Now attach the the two halves together to make the body of the cage. I tied the two together with twists of wire at 5cm intervals. The front and back of the cage are made from the remaining sheet. Hold the sheet against the opening at the back and cut to fit using wire clippers. The back was attached using wire twists. The front is hinged at the top with sides that bend back a bit over the sides of the cage.

Having a hinge at the top makes it easier to put the chicken in the cage. If you put her in headfirst you can quickly drop the door down and secure it with pegs before she has turned around. We used clothes pegs but small bulldog clips would be good for a larger chicken.

broody coup 2

The broody coop in the photo is the mark one version. I made Bunty a Rolls Royce (mark two) cage out of plastic coated wire. Definitely worth the extra investment as it’s stronger and more durable. Carol (our Maran) has never been broody. If she was, I’d make her a bigger cage (the hen needs to be able to stand up). And it would have to be stronger than the mark one cage as she is a much larger bird than the bantams.

Our broody coop sits in the Day Centre. Bunty had hers in the run with a bit of wood as a roof.

It took me a while to realise when the perfect moment of release should take place. The chicken in the broody coop will ask to be released immediately. But bide your time. Her comb will gradually change from pink to red. When it is red she can get out of jail. If you release her while her comb is still pink she will nip back to the nesting box and you will have to start the process all over again.

If you have a broody chicken and you want her to sit on fertilised eggs put a floor on the bottom of the broody coop, fold the door over the roof and you have a quiet area in which she can sit for twenty one days, with easy access to food and water. She needs to be able to move away from the nest so don’t lock her in. Ideally, place the cage somewhere that is protected from the elements. Or construct a simple roof like Bunty did (a bit of plywood slightly bigger than the cage). It’s not a good idea to let a broody hen stay in the nesting box as it puts the other hens off laying eggs.


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130 Comments

  1. My silky is broody and i have just locked her out of the coop so that she can roam the garden with the three chicks she has raised. the 3 chicks being 2 cockerels and a hen but they seem to run away when the mother who is broody comes near them now. she keeps trying to interact with them but they just keep moving away so then she tries to get back in the coop which i close off in the day, due to the fact that she will just sit in the nest all day. my question is can i just get some chicks instead of eggs or do i only have the option of eggs so she can hatch them. the reason i ask is because it seems a instant solution other than eggs.

    any help well appreciated thanks andy

  2. I have only one broody hen and it was not a pleasant ending. You could tell that the hen was in a lot of pain. So sad 🙁

  3. Your article about an isolation coop up off the ground was a great idea. I isolated my broody chicken into a coop/dog kennel lined with chicken wire for a week. When her comb turned red I released her into the flock. She no longer is broody but she has been out of isolation for 5-6 days and still no eggs. She appears healthy. How long can I expect to wait before she starts laying again? She has not produced since late June.

  4. Hi, i found this article really usefull, but i feel to late. My hen had been broody for over 6 weeks when i found this article. I did as it said but now she cant seem to walk im sure because she has been sat for so long. Has anyone else seen this happen to a broody hen. Will she recover do you thinks??

  5. Anne Ulm

    Hello!
    I can’t thank you enough. Our three little girls had gone broody about 2-3 weeks ago and I was ready to give up. We were due to head out on vacation and I really couldn’t see the neighbors carrying them out several times a day so they could eat and drink!
    I didn’t want to do anything that would harm them. I figured being in a nice cage right along side the others with food and water would be tolerated by all of us!
    We left them in the broody cage inside the run for 3 days. On day 2 I did let them run free for about 1/2 hour but then right back in before they had time to head to the henhouse.
    I still am amazed at how simple and relatively kind the whole process was.(I was more worried about critters getting in, but we have done all humanly possible to make their run safe.) They came out today and have been enjoying life with the other 3 hens.
    I was impressed with the thoughts you included on the girls missing out on summer and that it could go on for a long, long time. Also, having them in good condition for winter is important.
    We are in Iowa and can have some pretty cold days and nights.
    Again, thank you so much!

  6. I found the advice in here really useful and I have had some success so thought I would provide some feedback. We have 4 hens – 3 Warrens and 1 Bluebelle. We have had them for 2 years and have had a steady supply of eggs with few problems. About 2 weeks ago one of the Warrens started behaving strangely. She became obsessed with staying in the laying area and screeched and puffed up when i tried to collect eggs or clean the area out. She was also screeching at the other hens who ultimately were put off laying as she wouldn’t let them in there (although the occasional egg was appearing and I don’t think she was producing them so one or other was managing to sneak in to lay). She seemed to lose interest in eating so I was lifting her out each morning and putting her next to the food but she was rushing back inside at each opportunity. I came across this site as i trawled the internet looking for a solution. We removed her from the pen and erected a cage similar to the one described and put it at the top of the garden under some rhododendron bushes so she had some shade/shelter and put some pellets and water in for her. The following day we checked on her and she hadn’t eaten any of the food. She did take a little bit of lettuce through the wire mesh but not much and she seemed to be shivering a little. We felt awful leaving her there but for our sanity and for the sake of the other 3 hens we perservered and left her to it. The same applied to the next day. On day 3 we let her out because it had been raining and we felt guilty. She spent half an hour foraging around the garden with the other 3 and then ran in to the laying area, sat down, puffed up and screeched when I lifted the lid! We realised she wasn’t cured and sadly lifted her out of the nesting box and put her back in prison in the cage. Determined not to go soft on her again we left her for 2 more days. She was released yesterday and seems to have forgotten about being broody. She is back with the gang digging for England and doing all of the normal things she did before her obsession consumed her. One thing I didn’t notice however was the change in colour of her comb. It was always red so I couldn’t use that as any sort of indicator. Thanks for the advice – we found it really useful and we are very happy that she has become her old self again.

  7. This is such a great thread. I have three pekin bantams, and one or another of them always seems to be broody. I’ve been using an old cat carrier to isolate them, but now we have two broody at the same time, so I’m going to build some cages like yours. However, we don’t have a big enough shed to put two cages in overnight. Do you think it would be safe for me to suspend the cages from the fence a couple of feet off the ground and leave the chooks in there during the night?

  8. thanks for the advise, will try citricidal. we have shavings in the box and some straw, no hay, and feed them on growers pellets and corn, neither which they like much, so have started giving them mealworms and carrot and pot peelings cooked with a bit of mash.

  9. This broodiness is driving me mad! It’s the first time we’ve experienced it and the third time we’ve had chickens, so maybe it’s the breed we’ve chosen? It’s a Bluebell. I shall ask my partner nicely to construct one of the cages. At the moment we’re plonking her in the front garden away from the others, but she’s persistent about flying back (even though I cut the feathers on one wing). Someone mentioned a sneezing bird, I was advised putting Citricidal in their water. It’s a natural grapefruit extract which seemed to do the trick.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Shill

      The broody cage really does work and quickly too!

      Thanks for the tip about Citricidal.

  10. hi, we have 2 bantams that seem to sneeze and try to cough? is this normal, they do it mainly after eating. am new to this so not sure whats what!

    • Fiona Nevile

      If there is hay in their house remove it at once. If there isn’t they may be allergic to the food – what are you feeding them?

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