Controlling Broodiness in Backyard Flocks
Broodiness is a condition in which laying hens have a desire to set their eggs. When hens go broody they stop laying eggs and marshal their physiological and behavioral resources for incubating and hatching chicks. This is a favorable condition if one wants to produce chicks through the natural nesting process. It is, however, a detrimental condition if one is only interested in maximizing egg production. If one wants to achieve maximum egg production from their flocks, they must minimize the incidence of broodiness. Broodiness can reduce egg production by as much as 8 to 10 eggs per hen. Broodiness is controlled by several factors including genetics, endocrinology and the environment. Fortunately, the environment can be a significant contributor to broody behavior and, as a result, can also be manipulated to discourage this condition.