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Breaking a Broody

PUBLISHED: 13:30 16 May 2014

My Broody Buster - a simple home-made timber cage with plastic mesh flooring.

My Broody Buster - a simple home-made timber cage with plastic mesh flooring.

Julie Moore

Sometimes, a broody's enthusiastic maternal instincts aren't welcome

If you’re not going to allow your broody to hatch chicks, it’s imperative to intervene quickly and ‘break’ her.

Why do I need to break a broody?

• There’s no need to raise further stock;

• No fertile eggs are available;

• Severe health implications for the broody (weight loss, prone to external parasites and possible death);

• Broodiness is ‘infectious’, inducing other hens to go broody;

• One less egg contributor.

How do I disrupt her comfy nest and cool her heightened body temperature?

• Make a simple timber-framed cage with plastic mesh floor, equipped with food and water;

• The cage isn’t a conducive environment for getting comfortable: no dark hiding place whilst the raised mesh floor allows air to circulate around the hen’s body, cooling her belly;

• Leave the cage in a light place away from the flock;

• Once inside, the broody will be initially distressed, but she’ll soon settle;

• Time spent inside depends on when you identified her broody behaviour. She may only need a few days if you caught her early;

• Return her to the flock when you think she’s cured. If she makes a beeline for her nesting site, you know she’s still broody;

• Alternatively, isolate her with her favourite rooster. His amorous attentions will distract her from broodiness!

What not to do:

• Use cold water or ice to cool her body;

• Remove her repeatedly from her nest only for her to become distressed and run straight back.

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