Saturday, May 30, 2015

Chicken Jail - a/k/a what to do if a hen goes broody

One of my hens is broody. What that means is she is trying to be a momma. We don't have a rooster. So she is sitting on a non-fertile egg and trying to hatch it! It takes 21 days to hatch eggs, and she's going the distance.  She's been sitting in the nest box (with limited water/food breaks) for about 9 days!  We check the nest boxes several times a day to collect eggs, and we reach under her to collect any eggs, but still she sits. Even if she is sitting on nothing. 

She looks funny because she's all puffed out and territorial of her nest box.  When I got to gently lift her out of the nest box and have her free-range with the other girls, she'll gently peck me.  Her mothering instinct is strong!  She'll free-range with the others, but only for a few minutes and will then head back to her nest box.

Buff Orpington and several other types of chickens are more apt to "go broody".
A puffed out, territorial broody hen
So what to do?
She is sitting in futile.
How to gently break her instinct?  When I pick her up, she feels so light - I'm worried she is not getting enough food and water.

When we place her outside to free range with the other girls, she'll participate for a few minutes, pecking bugs, eating grass and running around, but then I'll look, and count my 6 chickens, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.... number 6 is back in the nest box.  Sitting on non-fertile eggs.  Trying to be a momma.  So cute.
What's recommended is chicken jail.
Yes, get a wire dog kennel and segregate her.  The best results I'm told are to make sure she doesn't have any nesting materials, but instead she needs air under her (hence the wire dog crate).
Pepper said he'd gladly loan out his crate for a bit, and so here she sits:

she looks a little sad
We only had to keep her in the dog crate for 2 days and she snapped out of it (we checked after the first day but she was still broody).  On day 2 we took her out of the dog crate to free range, and she acted like a normal chicken!  Cured!
UPDATE:  since this story she's been broody a second time.  Again, it only took about 48 hours in the dog kennel (with food & water) to break her.

1 comment:

Cindy L said...

Miss Broody stayed in the kennel for 2 days and she was cured! She's back to free ranging and running around with the other 5!

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