Taking care of a broody hen is different than taking care of a non-broody hen. Broody hens sit on their eggs, almost all day, in an effort to get their eggs to hatch.
If your broody hen has been incubating her eggs for some time, but the eggs are not hatching, you’d be right to be worried. This article looks into why this happens.
Broody hen eggs not hatching:
If your hen is sitting on her eggs day and night, only leaving them to eat, drink and poop, but the eggs aren’t hatching, this can spell trouble for the bird. One possible reason why the eggs aren’t hatching is that the eggs weren’t fertilized in the hen’s body.
A hen does not need a rooster to produce eggs but a hen does need a rooster to produce fertilized eggs. If eggs are not fertilized in the hen’s body, before the hen lays them, then they will not hatch and produce chicks.
Chickens can usually tell, and are very good at, telling which eggs are viable and which eggs are not. The mother hen usually kicks unviable eggs out, or breaks them and eats them, but if she doesn’t do this then she will sit on these eggs but they will not hatch.
What to do:
If you know that a hen’s eggs have not been fertilized, but the hen doesn’t realize that the eggs won’t hatch, and she keeps being broody, then you’d need to break her of her broodiness. This is how to do this:
Remove the eggs:
One way to break a bird out of its broodiness is to remove the bird’s eggs. Remove the eggs while the bird is away taking a short break to stretch her legs.
Break the broody hen as soon as you realize that she isn’t coming out of her broody state. The longer the bird is allowed to be broody the longer it will take her to get out of her broody state and back to egg laying.
Cool the bird:
Another way to break the broody hen is to cool the bird’s belly, do this gradually to keep the bird from going into shock.
Cool the bird by getting her belly and feathers wet with cool water. Cooling the bird will lower her body temperature and get her out of her broody state.
Avoid using water that is too cold, or ice, to cool the bird, these will shock her system.
This involves keeping the bird away from her eggs using a broody breaker. A broody breaker is a wire-bottomed cage, placed in a well-lit room, raised off the floor, and kept away from the coop.
Because the bottom of the cage is raised and open, cool air can move around the bird and cool the bird’s belly off. You can leave the bird in this cage until she is not broody anymore.
Disrupting the hen can also help get the bird out of her broody state.
Do this by removing the bird from her eggs several times a day, this should help get her out of her broody state. The bird will likely try to fight you as you do this, you’ll need to wear protective gear if you choose to do this.
Give her chicks:
Giving your broody hen chicks to take care of will help to get her out of her broody state. A hen can’t brood eggs and raise chicks at the same time. If a hen is given chicks, and adopts them, she will get out of her broody state and abandon her eggs.
Buy day-old chicks and place them under her, this will get her back to her old self. If you choose to do this, buy the youngest chicks you possibly can.
Dangers of not breaking the bird:
If you don’t break your broody hen the bird may sit on her eggs for weeks on end in an effort to hatch them, this can cause the bird’s health to deteriorate. If this is left to continue on a long-term basis the bird may die
Your broody hen will eat 80% less food than she is used to and this can lead to malnutrition. The bird will also lose weight because she is eating less food, her feathers will become dull, and her comb will become pale.
A broody hen can also die of dehydration because she isn’t drinking as much water as she should.
This decline in health will make her more vulnerable to parasites.
This decline in health is normal for about 21 days, and won’t kill the bird, but if the bird is broody for extended periods of time, then this can kill her.
If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other chicken related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Can Chickens Drink Well Water?, Can Chickens Drink Chlorinated Water?, Multiple Broody Hens, Chickens Pecking Each Other To Death, Bullied Chicken Not Eating,