I’ve been researching broody hen pros and cons, and white it might be the “common” thing to do I have found no scientific studies that have proven to me why a broody hen must be broken of her broodieness.
I am interested on this topic because I have three Cochins bantams all gone “serial broody”all at once. (From what I read broodiness is genetic and some breed i.e. Cochins are known for being a broody breed.) After weeks of having my hens penned up in the dog kennel nothing has changed in their broodiness. Even the hens that “appeared” to be broken were back to being broody again in a week or so.
Dog kennel used as pen to break a broody hen.
The current practice is to take a broody hen and play her in a dog kennel or a chicken wire box for a week or two until she is “broken” of her hormones. Some also advocate plunging the hen in a pan of cool water to cool her down to end the hormonal cycle. The goal, I am told is to make them uncomfortable enough to want to go back to the and or to cool the off enough that they also head back to a normal schedule. Quite frankly both of those “options” sound inhumane to me.
Goldy was broody when I was in Oregon for two weeks. My husband was in charge.
We do have one dog kennel that is being use right now as the temporary nighttime sleeping quarters of our newest four RIR pullets until their new coop in completed.
The current sleeping pen of our four Rhode Island Red pullets.
I keep wondering just why everyone is so intent on breaking a broody hen? I can understand the chicken keeper whose livelihood depends on selling eggs wanting their chickens to lay (and of course we know that a broody hen does are not laying.) But really why is going broody such a terrible thing for a chicken? I find no scientific studies describing any ill effects in health for a broody hen except losing weight.
I remove my broody hens from the nest box three times a day to eat, dust, poop and drink. Knowing they are physically okay, why is it that I am “commanded” to break them from their broodiness?
I am a natural chicken keeper. This means I let nature take its course when ever possible , boost my hens immunity with herbs and garlic and it does not feel right to me to force the from being broody by breaking them in the manner described above. I feel the same way about training my dog with love rather than through the pain of a shock collar. It may be the common course of action to “break a broody,” but my instincts are telling me that it is not humane.
My one Cochin momma went broody, laid her eggs and brooded them. She mothered those chicks for over 5 months without suffering any ill effects. Yes, she lost weight, but I fed her well and she rebounded well.
I know what it is like to be a victim on ones hormones and to have one’s life not be in one’s own control Maybe I am a softy. But as a healer this breaking process does not feel like the best course of action to take as long as my hens are not in a life-threatening position.
Goldy taking some sun on a warm day.
Some say that they get out of condition when they brood? Out of condition for what? Yes, they lose some weight when brooding, I get that. But it’s June and my hens have five months to get back into shape before winter arrives.
My broody hens are around nine months old and are in very healthy shape having received organic feed, fresh crushed garlic and immune system building herbs since they were two weeks old. They have never had mites or any other illness. They are young and healthy with natural hormones.
How many chickens does it take to heat up a nest box?
Maybe the breakers just don’t want to feed a hen that is not producing. Again I can understand that position as my hens are also egg layers but they are also my pets. I don’t plan to cull them when they stop laying, I’ll let them live out their natural lives in a gentle retirement as a reward for a job well done.
After all isn’t that what all women (humans to chickens) want, need and deserve?
Stay tuned for the end of this story….as the song says, I could be wrong, but I could be right…
Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna