After a couple weeks of fewer than 20 eggs a day, I started to wonder what was wrong. The girls seemed very happy with the spring weather and they spent a lot of time in the coop. You can hear egg songs galore! Then it dawned on me. Three of my hens were sitting in the same nesting boxes day after day. They even stopped running outside in the morning for treats! Some of my girls are Broody!!
Being broody is when a hens wants to hatch her eggs. She will sit on them and only leave for short periods of time to eat and drink until they hatch. Eggs take 3 weeks to hatch and during that time their bodies act differently. Their hormones change, their bodies warm up and they stop laying. All their energy goes into hatching. Partially from not eating as much, they lose weight and feathers. Some say losing feathers is a hens way of giving the new baby chicks a softer nest. The poor hens sometimes have no feathers left on their belly! In general a broody hen looks like a sloppy slug melted into her nesting box and sometimes a little sickly.
We had a broody hen once last year and we put her in own pen away from the nesting boxes. It distracted her and broke the cycle. After 4 days she got back into the groove of hanging with the flock, gained weight and started laying eggs again!
This time it’s going to be more difficult because we have 3 girls being broody and 1 of them is the same one that was broody last year. The time out pens gets a little hotter and causes stress on a hot day. We are going to have to use multiple pens since we have so many chickens acting up. We’ll give it a try and let you know how it goes.
You can see what a broody hen acts like when you try to take her out of her nesting box by visiting the chickens YouTube channel: