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Dealing with broody hens

Occasionally one of our hens goes broody, even though we use breeds that are not supposed to, and for that reason, I don't trust them to follow through.  Also, they distract the other hens from laying as they can be very protective and annoying (sometimes to the point of pecking me when I try to collect the eggs), so its best to get them out of their broodiness as soon as possible.  The best way to do this is to separate the broody hen from the rest of the flock, in another cage with food and water, for a few days.  Eventually she will forget her broodiness and will be back to normal when reintroduced to her mates.  We were told to put the hen in a small cage and hang it up in the shade, as the cool air blowing over her is supposed to reduce the urge to hatch eggs. We did do that for a while, when we had a suitable place to hang the cage, but these days we just put the hen in one of our spare chicken tractors for a few days and that seems to work just as good.  I have also been told to put ice under the hen to cool her down, I haven't tried that one.  How do you deal with broody hens?

eight acres: dealing with a broody hen
I didn't have a photo of a broody!
Here's one checking out the nest box though.

By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor ebook blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at}

What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.

Reviews of the Design and Use a Chicken Tractor


  1. We made a big box shaped cage out of chicken wire. The lid flap is not wired down and getstied down with string. We set this up on bricks and timber supports so that a breeze blows underneath. Ours gets used for clucky bantums when we do not want them sitting on eggs too long. Because they don't peck us and we can still get the eggs we only put them in if they have been broody for way too long,plus we do not rely on the two bantums for eggs.

  2. I didn't feel quite right with some of the methods that were suggested to us, so what worked for us was this:

    Because our girls are in their yard in the majority of the day and let out to roam in the afternoon/evening, what I did was just let broody out all day. She apparently then enjoyed the 'single' life lol and wasn't bothered with sitting.

    I guess the same as your 'spare chicken tractor' answer - distraction, something else more interesting to do (new ground to dig and scratch and peck) and a lack of nesting area (but still access to water/food), without small confinement.

    I was really pleased because I was worried about her food and water intake and because it was such warm weather, she was really having a hard (hot) time in the nesting box being in there almost all day every day.

    So if the chicken tractor works then I say great :)

  3. My hens would go and hide in the bush to go broody which eventually became a quick exit from the gene pool and into the food chain for coyotes and foxes. When others went broody in a nest box, I would let them set a few days and then put them out and block entrance to the box which seemed to make them so angry that they voiced their opinion for a few minutes and then were hungry and went off to eat and didn't go broody for months. Other hens seem to go broody once in their life or never and they of course survive and pass their genes on when I hatch the eggs for them.

  4. Thanks all. Didn't think of putting the cage off the ground like that Fi, will try it next time, we did used to hang it up, but don't have a good spot anymore. Kristy, I think just separating the hen from her nesting box and other hens is enough to make her reconsider (although we did have on camping out in the grass too!). Sunnybrook Farm, that is a good solution to improve your chicken genetics for the future!

  5. We also hang the debrooding cage up. It seems to help.

    We have had anconas and welsummers go broody, neither of which are meant to be broody breeds.


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