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Broody Hens

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Broody Hens;  By Michael Kelly of GIY Ireland.

Original article; HERE

Chickens that ‘go broody’ remain sitting on their eggs and stop laying for this period. When hatching a clutch of eggs, a hen will remain broody for 21 days at which point the eggs will usually hatch. Broodiness has been reared out of modern hybrid hens to a large degree, but it can still happen occasionally.  If you are keeping hens just for eggs and do not want them to hatch chicks, then broodiness is generally a big pain in the neck (and not so pleasant for the hen either I guess).

The health of your hen when broody is often a concern. They will generally eat very little or nothing at all while broody and only get up off the eggs once a day to get some food and water. They will also get pretty irritable if you go near them.

If you don’t want her to hatch eggs, the best approach is to lift her and let her cool down for a couple of days in a separate space, away from the nest and other hens. The key is to make her uncomfortable – make sure there’s nowhere for her to settle down to roost (so a cold floor with no bedding is the best bet).  Give her some water and feed and leave her be.   She will generally come out of the broodiness in 2-3 days. Dunking a broody hen in a bucket of cold water is an old wives tale for stopping broodiness which sometimes work and sometimes does not (and let’s be honest, it’s a little cruel!).


Irish Independent GIY Column

Good Life column and diary by author and GIY founder Michael Kelly.  Check out the GIY pages in the Health & Living supplement each Monday in The Irish Independent for a wheelbarrow load of information about growing your own food. Read about the Veg of the Week, My GIY Life – GIY profiles, GIY Toolbox, Jargon Buster  We’re out to take the mystery out of growing.


About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

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