Do you have to break a broody hen?

Do you need to deal with broody hens or can you just leave them

What happens if you don't break a broody hen?

You do have to deal with a broody hen, either by giving her eggs to hatch or by breaking her off the nest. Otherwise she will sit on the nest until she begins to suffer and may even die.

When a chicken decides she wants to raise a brood, it is not a conscious decision but a hormonal one.

Below: A very bad tempered broody hen on a nest.

A hens condition will suffer quite badly during the 21 days of incubation and they can lose 10% of their body weight.

If you don't deal with a broody hen you could:

  1. Find yourself with partially incubated eggs in your nests.
  2. Have fighting and injuries.
  3. Get broken eggs and egg eating hens.
  4. Lose hens if they find thier own nests.

Should you break a broody hen?

You should break a broody hen if you are not going to use her to hatch eggs.

A broody is controlled by her hormones and she may just sit on a nest until she wastes away. I actually had this a few years ago, one of my Silkies wandered off and sat on a clutch of eggs in a hedge. 

Below: Having a broody hen around is very hard work.

Unfortunately her egg were not fertile and she died on the nest. I only discovered it a few weeks later when i was cutting the overgrowth back.

Alternatives to breaking a broody hen:

There is one alternative to breaking a broody and that is to give her eggs to sit on chicks to look after.

Give her a single sexed chick to raise. You can get these from tractor supply or a farm or friends that raise chickens. A single chicks will keep her occupied and get her of the nest to look after it in a day or so.

Below: Leaving broody poultry has all sorts of implications as they have a habit of disappearing to nest.

If you choose an auto-sexing type you know you will get one hen.

You can move a broody if necessary.