‘Tis the season for hearing about all the broody hens. People watching and waiting to find fluffy little peeps in the nest with momma hen one morning. There is no denying that nature is best. Broody hens raise strong, healthy chicks. You won’t need a heat lamp, or a brooder set up in your dining room or office for three to six weeks. We have had a broody hen and I have had many broody hens that I discouraged from sitting. Why? If nature is best, why would I discourage a hen from hatching eggs? Here are a few reasons to ponder.
Five Reasons I Don’t Want a Broody Hen
1. If you don’t have a rooster the eggs are not fertile. The hen will sit and sit, losing condition and not eating very much all for naught. In our flock, the ratio for our rooster is a bit high. 17 hens and TJ Rooster is a bit of a stretch. All of the eggs are not fertile. In addition, TJ Rooster is a barnyard mix of breeds. The last time I hatched eggs in an incubator, I had 50% roosters and he is one of them. While there is nothing wrong with a barnyard mix breed hen for laying eggs, I sure don’t need any more roosters right now.
2. Breeds. I would prefer to have hens that are specific breeds. If I was going to breed, I would want to separate the breeds into different pens and coops and breed true.
Controlling the Decision
3. Ordering sexed pullets from a hatchery gives me better chance of getting more hens, and therefore more eggs for my customers and family. When we hatched out our own eggs we ended up with a lot of roosters.
4. I am a bit of a control freak about when I want to start with chicks. I feel like the decision about increasing my flock is not mine if left to a broody hen.
Demand for Eggs
5. The eggs we sell are in demand. Letting the hen sit on a clutch of eggs means she is taking up a popular nest spot and sitting on eggs that I could be selling. In addition, when a hen goes broody and won’t leave the popular nest, it upsets the laying behavior of the other hens, further reducing my egg supply.
How Do You Discourage a Hen from Brooding?
I am bold about this. I just reach under the hen, (wearing gloves!) and pick up the eggs. Next I toss the hen out into the run while making sure that there is a tasty treat to entice her with. Sometimes this must be repeated a few times a day for a couple of weeks. Some broody hens are more persistent than others. I am very matter of fact in my approach using firmness and gentleness.
How do you feel about having a broody hen? What tactics have you used to discourage broodiness in your hens?
This post appeared first on Backyard Poultry Mag.com
You might also like 8 Reasons to Hatch Eggs in an Incubator, by Gail Damerow