Huffy Hen

People who are new to hen-keeping are often shocked to one morning go to feed the chickens and discover that their favorite, placid, friendly hen has turned into Chookzilla. This happens when a hen becomes broody. She wants to be left alone to sit on her nest of eggs. No matter that there might not actually be eggs under her. Or that the eggs that are there aren’t fertile. Or aren’t hers. Or you collect the eggs out from under her. Her body tells her little chicken brain to set, and she does.

She also turns into crazed hen. Her feathers stick out. She looks twice her size. Instead of a gentle happy cluck when you come into the barn, she rasps an angry greeting. A hen who has always been pleasant to the others will go out of her way to chase them.

Unless you want to hatch chicks under your hen, when she goes broody it is a big pain. Not to mention that she stops laying eggs. If you have only a few hens, you’ll certainly miss that egg at your table.

What to do? Try to break up the broody spell by unceremoniously kicking her out of the nesting box and tossing her out into the yard. Try to bring her body temperature down (it elevates when she goes into broodiness, and being cooler will signal a cessation.) Some people put a bag of frozen peas under their broody hen! Or put her in a mesh-floored pen for a couple of days (with food and water, of course.) Or, simply leave her alone and have boring cereal for breakfast.

Blackie is broody and doesn’t she look annoyed at the world?

huffy hen

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