Being a backyard chicken wrangler, one of the most common questions I’ve come across is: “How long will a hen stay broody?” Understanding broodiness is an essential part of raising chickens. So let’s dive right into it.
What is Broodiness?
Broodiness is a hen’s instinct to hatch her eggs. It’s a change in the length of daylight that triggers a hen to sit on her eggs consistently for about 21 days, the time it takes for the eggs to hatch.
During this period, expect your hen to get a little testy at your presence, including puffing her feathers, growling, and hissing. She will also stop laying at this time due to a hormone called prolactin that kicks in to tell her body to stop.
Why do Hens Go Broody?
Hens go broody due to factors such as their breed, age, and environmental conditions. It’s their nature’s call to motherhood. It typically occurs in the spring when the hours of daylight increase.
How Long Will a Hen Stay Broody?
To answer our main question – “How long will a hen stay broody?” – it generally lasts for about 21 days. However, this can vary due to factors like breed and age, which we’ll discuss next. As broodiness ends, your hen will slowly start to leave the nest more and return to her normal activities.
However, some circumstances can lead to the demise of your wonderful little mama hens due to broodiness. You see, hens don’t mess around when it comes to hatching their chicks. Conditions have to be just right for chicks to hatch and hens have to sit tight to make sure that happens.
As a result of this sitting tight a hen eats only about a fifth of what she normally eats. If she sits on brood after brood she could starve. Likewise, if she sits on an infertile batch of eggs.
Factors Affecting the Duration of Broodiness
Certain breeds, like Silkies and Cochins, are known to be more broody and may stay broody longer than other breeds. A general rule of thumb is the fewer eggs a breed lays the more that breed will be inclined to brood.
Older hens tend to stay broody for a longer period than younger ones. It’s just a part of their aging process.
The environment plays a vital role in influencing broodiness. Stress, diet, and living conditions can all affect how long a hen will stay broody.
Managing a Broody Hen
Dealing with a broody hen requires understanding and patience. If you want your hen to hatch eggs, provide a quiet and comfortable space. On the other hand, if broodiness becomes a problem, there are ways to discourage it.
How to Encourage a Broody Hen
If you want your hen to hatch eggs, make sure she has a comfortable nest. Ensure she gets off the nest once a day to eat, drink, and poop.
How to Discourage a Broody Hen
If you need to discourage broodiness, you can try multiple strategies, like frequent nest checks, removing her from the nest, or providing a cooler environment.
If a hen doesn’t have anything to sit on she can’t brood. By not allowing eggs to pile up in the nest you can help discourage brooding.
There is a structure known as a broody coop. The broody coop is a wire cage hung in the coop in which to separate the broody hen to “cure” her of her desire to brood.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we address common queries about broody hens.
Should you disturb a broody hen? It doesn’t hurt the hen if you remove her from her nest. Her feelings might be hurt which could be manifested by a peck or two, so beware.
Can I leave a broody hen in the coop? Yes. It’s probably best if she’s in the quietest, darkest part of the coop so she won’t be disturbed too much. If there’s no chick activity after 23 days, it’s time to pull the plug on Mama’s dreams.
How many eggs can a broody hen set on? I might get some pushback on this answer since not all hens are created equal, but my answer is 10 most productively.
Let’s Wrap it Up
In conclusion, broodiness in hens is a natural process influenced by several factors. The typical period for a hen to stay broody is about 21 days. Understanding and managing this behavior is key to keeping a happy backyard flock.
Did you find this information helpful? Do you have any further questions or experiences to share about broody hens? Feel free to share in the comments!
Remember, your flock’s health and happiness are always our top priority at Chickenmethod.com.