Breaking a Broody Chicken

Until this year, I have never had an issue with a broody chicken. I have one new Olive Egger that has gone broody twice this summer. She is driving me crazy.

Wait, I better back up for some people. A broody chicken is one that is intent on hatching eggs. She will sit on the nest and not get off of it. In most cases, she will also steal eggs from other chickens and put them in her nest. A broody chicken doesn’t care that there isn’t a rooster and that the eggs aren’t fertile. They will often get very defensive of their nest and will peck, and hard, when you trying to pull eggs out from under them. In fact, even if there are no eggs under them, they will still continue to set on imaginary eggs.

Some of us don’t want them to hatch chicks, and we want them to get back to laying regularly, and some of us don’t have roosters because of local codes. So the real question is how to make them stop. If you don’t get them to stop, they will continue to set on the eggs (existent or not) and will starve themselves and suffer significant malnourishment. I have heard the following:

  1. Remove them from the nest and put them out in the run or yard and try to distract them with a treat of some kind. Basically, we are trying to get them off of the nest. You will have to repeat this many times, in most cases.
  2. Put them in some cool water. The idea with this is that it will cool off their underside and lower their body temperature which is caused by broodiness. Hopefully, it will snap them out of it and discourage them from sitting on the nest. This may need to be repeated several times.
  3. Chicken Jail is an option. Basically, you put your broody chicken in a small enclosure without a nest box. Many people use wire dog kennels. The idea is to make it impossible for her to sit down and spread herself out, comfortably. Our chicken jail is a small coop with the nesting box blocked off. To prevent the broody from trying to make a nest in the dirt, I put a sheet of plywood under it. After a couple of days, she gets paroled, but if she runs right back to the nest, she has her parole violated and gets two more days in jail. So far, two trips to jail has helped.
  4. Some people will just let it run its course by putting some fake eggs under the broody, and at 20-22 days, they will get some day old chicks and sneak them under the broody in the middle of the night. This may work, and it may result in the broody killing the chicks.
  5. The last option is to go out and get some fertilized eggs and just let nature take its course. What is ironic is that I have heard of many people scrambling for eggs only to put them under the broody and watch her get up and walk away and not return.

Good luck in getting your broody back into production.

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