You know you have broody chickens on your hands if they stay in their nests to hatch their eggs. During this incubation period, which lasts 21 days, they will not lay new eggs. Do you want to breed, and therefore want chicks? Then you want to stimulate brooding. But if you only keep hens for the tasty eggs, you probably want to stop brooding. How can you control this process?
How to recognize a chicken that is broody
Chickens that are broody remain in their nests around the clock. Sometimes they also pull out breast feathers to keep their eggs warm. Hens can also become quite aggressive during this period. Keep this in mind when you enter the chicken coop.
Brooding often occurs in the spring, probably due to a combination of hormones, nesting instinct and age, and the lengthening of daylight hours. True laying breeds usually don't become broody until the chickens are older - if at all. Other breeds are broody several times a year.
Chickens are less likely to become broody if you remove eggs from their nest every day. However, if despite removing her eggs a hen does become broody, put her in a separate cage without much litter for a while. She will certainly not want to build a nest in such an environment. After three days you can safely put her back in with the rest of the brood.
How to stimulate brooding
If you want to stimulate brooding, then leave the eggs in the nest and allow your hen to become broody. A brooding hen will leave the nest at least once a day to defecate and eat. So provide food near the nest, in a place where the other chickens cannot steal it.
To stimulate egg laying, you can support chickens with special laying feed and some extra vitamins. Do you hear tiny peeps coming from the nest after 21 days? Congratulations! From day one you can give the little fuzz balls special chick food.