How Do You Break a Broody Hen?

Broody hens don’t lay eggs the entire time they are broody. Therefore, if your broody hen isn’t hatching chicks, you could be thinking of breaking the broody hen like any reasonable chicken owner.

Some stubborn broody hens often poop in their nesting boxes, making the waste attract flies into the nesting boxes. Other broody hens eat their eggs rather than hatch the eggs, and it makes sense to break such broody hens.

5 Ways to Stop Chickens from Being Broody

Stopping chickens from being broody is easy only if you use the correct techniques. Here are five ways to prevent chickens from being broody.

– Collect Eggs Frequently

Chickens won’t stop being broody if at all they are eggs around. The presence of eggs in their nests will keep your chickens broody for too long. Consider collecting eggs frequently to deny your birds eggs to sit on.

The more your chickens sit on the eggs, the longer they will continue being broody. Check whether there are eggs in the coop after a couple of hours. Chickens will naturally stop being broody when they find no eggs to sit on.

– Cold Water Baths

Giving your hens cold water baths is one of the effective methods you can use to stop your chickens from being broody. Take a five-gallon container, preferably a bucket, and fill it halfway with cold water.

The container should be shorter and broader but not too deep. Ensure the water is cold, but it shouldn’t be freezing lest your chickens freeze. Please put your hands in the water to check whether it is cold enough.

If the water is too cold, ensure you add some warm water to the container. Take your broody hen and dunk the bird in the cold water. Dunk only the body and avoid dunking the chicken’s neck and head in the water.

Allow the hen to remain in the cold water for around 30 seconds before taking her out. Dry the hen using a blower of soft clothing until she is completely dry. Your hen will stop being broody right after giving her a cold water bath.

However, this method can be difficult for flighty broody hens since it isn’t easy to handle such birds. Some hens also don’t stop being broody immediately after getting a cold water bath. They can take a few days to break their broodiness, but this method will effectively break your chickens’ broodiness in the long run.

Besides using cold water baths to stop your birds from being broody, you can also place cold water bottles under your chickens when they are sitting.

– Remove from Nest Frequently

Chickens remain broody for long if they stay in their nests for too long. If there is a broody hen in your flock and you would like to break her broodiness, the first thing is to remove the hen from her nest. Lift the hen and put her with the rest of the chickens.

You can also give the hens some treats to encourage them to stay out of the nest. Some broody hens are pretty stubborn, and they will keep going back to their nests whenever you remove them from the nests.

Some hens may even try to peck at their owners when their owners try to remove them from their nests. You will have to keep removing your broody hens from their nests until they will no longer come back to sit in the nests.

Block or close the nests if you keep removing your hens from their nests many times. Your hens will finally stop being broody since they will have no place to nest once you close or block the nest boxes.

– Remove Nesting Material

It might be impractical for anyone with a large flock to remove all the nesting material as one way of stopping their hens from being broody. This method works effectively for chicken owners with a few broody hens in their flocks.

By getting rid of all the nesting material from your coop, you will deny your broody hens a comfortable space for nesting. The possibility is that the hens will give up nesting over time.

– Separate from Flock

Separating your broody hen from the flock can also help break her broodiness. Broody hens will continue sitting on other hens’ eggs if there are laying hens in the flock. Consider isolating the hen from the flock.

Put the broody hen in a separate cage, but continue providing it with food and water. However, avoid making the cage too comfortable for your broody hen since it will encourage her to continue nesting.

The duration of time your hen needs to break her broodiness depends on whether she is determined to remain broody. Some hens might take longer to break from their broodiness than others.

Continue checking your hen daily to see whether she is still broody. If she isn’t broody anymore, put her back in the coop for her to continue living with other chickens.

Why do Chickens go Broody?

Chickens go broody when they are ready to hatch their eggs. If you notice your hen is going broody, it shows the hen is growing older, and the bird is therefore maturing in readiness to become a mother.

The increase in day length stimulates broodiness in hens by making them release a hormone known as prolactin, which is in the birds’ pituitary gland. The combination of sunlight and prolactin makes hens broody.

Broody hens don’t lay eggs but sit on their eggs until they hatch into baby chicks. Some chicken breeds such as Cochins, Orpingtons, and Silkies are highly prone to broodiness compared to other chickens.

Any chicken keeper can know when their hens are going broody. Broody hens usually make nests in dark and quiet places. Their nests can be outdoors or in the coop, mainly in a  quiet corner. Broody hens then spend all their time in the nests.

After selecting a suitable place and making their nests, your broody hens will start lining their nests with bits of feathers and straw. Some hens usually pluck their feathers from their breasts to create comfortable and warm nests. Broody hens also start grumbling and growling at other chickens and their owners.

They can peck at any chicken or anyone who tries to get close to their nests. Broody hens fluff up their feathers, making them look bigger and threatening. Their tail feathers usually fan out, like turkeys display their tail feathers.

They fan their tail feathers to make them look fierce and more threatening. Broody hens will sit on their eggs the entire day after ensuring their eggs are in warm and comfortable nests. They will only leave their nests fewer times a day, specifically to drink, eat and poop.

They don’t go out to forage with other chickens. And they will remain in their nests until their eggs hatch. When they get out of their nest to drink or eat, you will notice your broody hens will be persistently clucking to warn everybody to keep off their way.

How Long Will a Hen Stay Broody?

If you don’t break your broody hen, it will remain broody for about 21 days. This is the time your hen will take to hatch if it has been sitting on fertile eggs. The broodiness will end after 21 days, although some hens remain broody for some time after hatching.

Consider breaking your broody hen if it remains broody after 21 days before it starts hurting itself and other chickens.

How Long  Will It  Take to Break a Broody Hen?

It should take between two and five days for you to break your broody if you follow the techniques in this guide. The time it takes to break a broody hen varies depending on the method you use and the hen.

If you don’t break your broody hen, it will resume its normal behavior after around 21 days.

Why Break a Broody Hen?

The idea of breaking a broody hen may seem inhumane. After all, it seems okay to allow your broody bird to sit on its nest indefinitely until its broodiness vanishes away. However, the strain that comes with broodiness isn’t worth the risk if your hen isn’t ready to hatch.

So, it would help if you considered breaking your broody hen for several reasons. Here are convincing reasons why you should break your broody hen.

– Poor Water and Feed Intake

Broody hens usually leave their nests for short durations of time. They can leave their nests only once a day to eat, drink and defecate. Consequently, broody hens will barely eat a quarter of their regular food. As a result, these hens quickly lose their body mass. Your broody hen will be at risk of dying of malnutrition because of losing plenty of weight.

Low water consumption is also a problem for broody hens. Reduced water intake, particularly in hot months, can quickly make your broody hens die. Therefore, breaking your broody hen is essential for saving its life, especially if the hen won’t hatch chicks.

It isn’t worth the risk to allow your hen to sit on its nest when it doesn’t hatch. Your broody hens will usually roam after breaking their broodiness.

Therefore, the birds will be able to supplement their diet with nutritious food items, such as weeds, grasses, bugs, worms, and small reptiles like frogs. Chickens also need to eat grit to help these birds digest the food they consume daily.

– Lack of Exercise

This is another crucial reason for breaking broody hens since these hens remain inactive for hours without getting enough exercise or stretching their legs. Reduced exercise is a vital concern for broody hens since it can lead to blood circulation problems.

– Lack of Fresh Air

Broody hens rarely go outside, meaning they don’t get enough sunshine and fresh air like they usually get while foraging out. Hens need adequate levels of vitamin D, which help stimulate their ovaries to produce egg yolks.

Moreover, hens need fresh air to keep their respiratory systems functioning optimally. Respiratory problems are common in hens that don’t get enough fresh air. By staying in their nests for too long, broody hens breathe ammonia in the chicken poop, debris, and dust, all of which can lead to respiratory problems.

Breaking your broody hens will help the birds roam each day, allowing them to get enough sunshine and fresh air.

– High Temperature in Nesting Box

Most broody hens’ hormones are high during summertime and in the spring. Therefore, there is a good possibility your broody hen will be sitting for hours and probably days’ in a scorching nesting box.

Breaking your birds’ broodiness will probably help them resume their everyday lives and avoid living in nest boxes that are too hot. Heat stress is a real concern for chickens, and breaking your broody hens will ultimately save the birds from heat stress.

– Possibility of Attracting Parasites

Broody hens don’t dust bathe since they are always in their nest boxes. Lack of dust bathing can increase the risk of your hens attracting parasites like lice and mites. Since it is humid and dark in their nesting boxes, their boxes can turn to be breeding grounds for these external parasites.

If your broody hens remain in their nesting boxes for long when it is not hatching, there is a likelihood they will attract external parasites in their nest boxes. These parasites will spread all over the coop, exposing the other chickens to nasty parasites. Break your hens’ broodiness to save them from these terrible crawling creatures.

– Reduced Egg Production

This is arguably the most convincing reason why chicken keepers opt to break their broody hens. Broody hens will cease laying the moment broodiness kicks in. If your broody hens aren’t actively hatching, there is no need for your birds to continue being broody.

The longer your hens remain broody, the longer they will take to resume laying. Therefore, breaking your broody hens will help them resume laying.


Breaking a broody hen seems inhumane enough. However, breaking her broodiness makes sense sometimes. For instance, why let your birds remain broody without them actively hatching, denying you eggs over time?

Again, why allow your hens to continue sitting on their nests, yet they are sitting on infertile eggs that will never hatch? Breaking your broody hen is crucial in these two cases. It doesn’t need a lot of work to break a broody hen. Removing the hen from its nest or bathing it with cold water is all it takes to break its broodiness.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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