a broody hen

During the last 48 hours, I’ve noticed a change has come over Miss Moneypenny – she’s turned broody.  Now, I’ve often heard the expression “like a broody hen” but it’s only now that I realise the full meaning. 

Miss Moneypenny, in the short time we’ve had her, has always been the most vocal of our girls.  And in the past month she’s been the most prolific egg-layer.  I suppose it’s hardly surprising, when you’ve laid 30 eggs in 31 one days, you get to point where you’d like to sit on them and hatch something out. 

broody moneypenny2

Problem is, we don’t have a cockerel, so all of this is going to be a waste of time, but try telling Miss Moneypenny that!

Anyway, I went googling for advice on what to do with a broody hen. Apparently, it’s all related to hormones (obviously) and body temperature.  Body temperature rises during the brooding phase so some of the suggestions to “break the cycle” are: isolate the hen in a wire-bottomed cage where air can circulate and cool her down;  sit her in a tub of cold water to cool her off;  give aspirin (??? – not too keen on that idea). 

Having no wire cage to hand, and not feeling brave enough to pick up my fluffed up, hissing hen to dunk her in cold water . . . I phoned the breeder to ask for advice. 

What they suggested is: simply to let her sit it out.  The breeder said to “sacrifice” a few eggs, and pop those in the nesting box so that Miss Moneypenny has a reasonable-sized clutch to sit on and will therefore stop laying.  To mark those eggs with felt pen, so that we know not to eat them later, because they’ll have gone bad by the time she gives up.  And to leave her be. 

The breeder explained that the brooding cycle lasts around 21 days, and that Miss Moneypenny with probably give up before then, but may continue to sit for the full three weeks.  She will only come out to eat, drink and poop at short intervals during the day, so will become physically weaker . . . but that she should come to her senses, and hormones should return to normal when the 21 days are up, if not sooner.

broody moneypenny

We have a total of 3 nesting boxes in our coop, so the fact that’s she’s nesting won’t stop the other girls from laying.  We’ve been inundated with eggs this past month, so I’m sure we’ll make do with eggs from just 2 hens for for coming weeks. 

My main worry is that the weather is so HOT at the moment, and I don’t want Miss Moneypenny dying of dehydration!  Still, it seems the most “natural” way, just to let her do what Nature tells her to do.  And fingers crossed that the other girls don’t decide to follow suit!

If anyone has had to deal with a brooding hen or has other advice, I’d be more than happy to hear from you.


5 thoughts on “a broody hen

  1. Miss Moneypenny would probably be quite grateful to be misted with cool water a couple of times a day if it’s very hot. My routine was always to wait till the other girls had laid their eggs, and then dump the broody one outside with the others and shut the henhouse door till it was bedtime for the girls, so she couldn’t get back in. It does work, but you have a very grumpy hen loitering around the door for several days, and if you let her back in too soon, you have to start over. If the lack of eggs isn’t a problem, you may be better off following the breeder’s advice.

    • thanks for that Kate
      I tried spraying them with water yesterday, none of them went much on that lol
      and I did try shutting Moneypenny out ever so briefly when she came out to eat yesterday but she had a panic attack and I was worried she would upset the other hens so I let her back in. She just looked so distraught, I didn’t have the heart ^^

  2. We had an interesting brooding episode last year with one of our hens. She went broody and would not get out of the nest that all the rest of the hens liked to lay in. We moved her into another area but as soon as she could sneak past us out of the nest, she went right back. We finally just marked those eggs and when others laid next to her, we would get those eggs while she was VERY briefly off the nest. Unfortunately in the end, someone smashed the eggs that were marked and it was a lost opportunity. And eventually she went back to running with the rest of the flock.

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