Have you recently started keeping chickens? One thing that you will likely at some point find yourself dealing with is brooding, which is when chickens get fixated on sitting on their eggs. Most of the time, hens will come out of brooding naturally. However, sometimes they seem to have trouble switching gears. In that case, you may need to take a few steps. A local Middletown, DE vet offers some advice on handling a broody hen below.
Although hens can go broody at any time, this behavior is most common during spring and early summer. Certain types of chickens are also more likely to act broody. Some of those that tend to go broody are Brahmas, Cochins, Sussex, and Silkies.
If you can, pick your feathered buddy up and put her down away from the nest while you collect eggs. Your hen may get flustered, but it’s important for her to eat, drink, relieve herself, and move around a bit … even if she goes right back to her nest after.
Cooling your hen’s underside can help her get out of that brooding mindset. Try putting a few ice cubes beneath your hen. You can also dunk your hen’s bottom side in cool water. Do this a few times a day. This won’t hurt her, but may just make her brooding behavior uncomfortable enough to break the cycle!
Sometimes getting a hen away from the nesting box can help break that broody streak. Try putting your winged pal in a small crate or portable coop with a wire bottom and no bedding. The discomfort and air flow cooling your bird’s bottom may do the trick.
Chickens usually stay broody for about 3 weeks, which is how long it takes fertile eggs to hatch. Most of the time, hens will resume their normal behavior after that amount of time.
Of course, if you want to let your hen hatch fertilized eggs, then there’s no need to keep her from brooding. Ask your vet for tips on caring for your expectant mama. Just be prepared: you may end up with quite a few male chicks that will need homes!
Do you have questions about your chickens’ health or care? Contact us, your local Middletown, DE animal clinic, today!