If you are trying to stop chickens from brooding it is important to remember that the easiest way to stop chickens from brooding is to remove all the factors that cause a chicken to brood in the first place. Some of these steps are obvious, but other involve keeping a careful eye on your chickens to ensure that you recognise the subtle signs of a chicken starting to become broody.
What is Chicken Brooding?
What is brooding? Brooding is the process that chickens undergo when their bodies determine that it is time to incubate their eggs. Brooding is a natural cyclic phase amongst all chickens and helps hens to ensure the survival of their hatchlings. If you are intending on gaining more chicks for your backyard chicken coop, then brooding is a good thing and should be encouraged when the process ocurs. If you do not want more chicks, or there is no way for your eggs to hatch (ie. you do not have a rooster in your flock), then it is important to stop your chickens before they start to brood. During a period of brooding a chicken will very rarely leave the chicken coop and her eggs. In fact, a brooding hen will only leave her eggs once a day to eat.
How to Stop Brooding
Brooding generally occurs when a chicken coop develops six or more eggs, which stimulates the chicken’s basic instinct to brood. Therefore it is important to always collect all of your eggs as early as possible – this reduces the likelihood of unaturally causing your chickens to start brooding. Watch out for signs of brooding with individual chickens. Often, only one chicken will start to brood at a time; however, the process of brooding is highly contagious, and if one chicken in a flock starts to brood, the others will likely follow.
Once a chicken has started to brood there are methods for making her stop brooding. You can continue to remove all the eggs as soon as they are laid and actually remove the hen from the coop. This can become quite traumatic for the hen, but may be the only solution. Generally, a hen that is brooding will become extremely anti-social and behave strangely. In extreme cases, the only solution for this is to literally buy fertilized eggs for your chicken to let her brood over and raise as hatchlings, or purchase newborn chicks.