A hen’s natural instinct is to hatch chicks. Accordingly, you will probably encounter a broody hen at some point. When this happens, she will stop laying and may even become territorial. Learn how to stop a broody hen so that you can continue to gather eggs. Here are some actionable tips for dealing with a broody hen.
1. Remove Her from the Nest
A broody hen must be separated from her eggs. One way to do this is to physically pick her up and move her. Keep in mind that broody hens are often very territorial and may, therefore, bite or peck. As such, you should use caution when removing a hen from her nest, including wearing gloves and long sleeves.
A hen’s first instincts will be to return to her nest. This means you may need to remove her several times before she finally gets the idea. Avoid letting her sit on the nest again if possible. The more she sits, the more difficult it will be to break the brooding behavior.
2. Block Access to the Nest
Broody hens will leave their nests only to eat and poop. Normally, they will venture from the nest only once each day to do these things. So an alternative is to wait until the hen leaves and then block off her access to the nest.
Nail a board over the entrance to the nesting box. Remove all the straw so that it no longer resembles a nest. This should be enough to discourage your hen from brooding.
3. Encourage her to Roost
Whenever possible, time the hen’s removal until evening. Once the other chickens have started roosting, place her with them. Odds are that she will not feel comfortable returning to her nest in the dark. However, she may come back the next morning. In that case, you will need to physically remove her again.
4. Use a Wire Cage
Place your hen inside a wire cage that also has a wire bottom. A dog crate will work, provided you remove the bottom and replace it with chicken wire. Ensure the cage is just big enough for your chicken to turn around in. Sit it on wooden or concrete blocks. This will elevate the cage and keep it clean whenever your hen poops.
The only thing inside the cage should be one bowl for food and another for water. Do not place any bedding inside the cage, as it will only encourage brooding behavior. Ensure the cage is in a well-lit area. Sunlight can provide a rather calming effect that may also help eliminate broodiness.
Keep her inside the cage for around three days or so. After releasing her, watch to see if she attempts to get back on her nest again. If so, you will need to repeat the caging for another day or so.
5. Wait it Out
In most cases, brooding behavior will only last around 21 days. So another alternative is to just wait it out. This may be fine if you are not worried about your hen not laying during that time.
Brooding behavior is sometimes contagious. This means that other chickens may begin brooding if they notice one hen doing so. In that case, you may encounter a vicious cycle of brooding. Keep this in mind before deciding that you will just wait for things to run their course.
6. Take Action to Deal with a Broody Hen
Having a broody hen can be frustrating. However, if you know how to stop a broody hen then you will not be caught off guard by it. Keep this information in mind so that you can take action if you notice one of your hens becoming broody.
There are multiple options for livestock on the farm, but chickens are a must-have. Here are 4 Reasons to Raise Chickens on the Homestead Two of the reasons are obvious but the other two aren’t as well known.
1. Eggs, duh
Laying hens can ensure your family always has fresh eggs to eat. Depending on the hen, they might lay a single egg every other day or they might lay as many as three daily. But, if you have extra eggs, you can always sell them to earn some extra cash. It is highly suggested that homesteads have a minimum of three laying hens and one rooster, but many families choose to have ten or more hens.
2. Meat… yes, chicken meat comes from chickens
Chickens can be used as meat stock. A single chicken will feed a family of four for one day with leftovers, in most cases. This may be hard to stomach but, the bonus is that you know exactly what the chicken was fed and how it was treated – things that can make the meat you buy in the grocery stores uncertain at best.
3. Bug Control
If you let your chickens free range on your property, they’ll help keep the bug population down. Chickens even eat ticks and mosquitoes, both of which carry diseases that might harm your family. Fewer bugs are also better for your crops or kitchen garden.
4. They Need Limited Space
Chickens don’t need a lot of space. In fact, they can free-range your property so they don’t even need a large designated run. It is suggested, however, that all homesteads have a sizable coop to keep poultry safe from predators at night.
The four reasons to raise chickens above make it obvious how important they really are. Chickens make the perfect addition to any homestead, farm, or even ranch.
If you’ve ever watched chickens, it’s clear to see that they are both curious and active. Chickens will come to check out almost anything new that doesn’t scare them and they do play. In fact, if you want a peaceful and pleasant time in the ranging pens, it’s best to give them plenty to do. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to keep a few homestead chickens entertained. All you need are a few household items, some tasty produce trimmings, and consideration for what chickens like to do all day.
Set Up a Daily Care Routine
The most interesting thing that happens in the days of most chickens is a visit from a human. Simply going about your regular business cleaning the pens, filling food and water supplies, and gathering eggs is a reasonable amount of activity for your average hen. While new activity is always entertaining, chickens do best when they mostly know what to expect, where to be to get fed, and how to behave when you’re in the pen. By making your chicken chores a daily schedule, you can keep your chickens interested and ensure that you never forget a round of feeding, cleaning, and gathering.
Build a Few Dust Baths
Chickens love to play in the dust and it’s not just recreational. This is their way to stay clean, dry, and bug-free. The good news is that like most things that chickens need, dust baths are incredibly easy to make. In fact, the best reason to make intentional dust baths is to ensure that your chickens don’t try to claw up the yard to make their own. Dust baths can be made from boxes, lined pits, clean kitty litter pans, old tires, or anything else that can hold a mix of dry dirt and fine sand. Set a few around the pens so more than one chicken can dust bathe at once.
Make Food-Based Toys
Chickens are not complex but they are excellent at cleaning up kitchen scraps. Fruit and vegetable trimmings are especially enjoyable and can be quickly turned to chicken entertainment. Produce skewered and tied to the fence or the ceiling of the coop can be happily pecked at for hours while a toy with holes can dispense tiny chicken treats after a bit of lively pecking and chasing. Chickens enjoy any opportunity to peck, run, and eat at the same time so get creative with your food-based chicken toys.
Create a Compost Pile
Chickens love to peck and search for little bits of food and nothing is more fun for a homestead chicken than a compost pile. Building a compost pile serves multiple purposes for chickens. Searching entertains them, they get food variety from insects and scraps. Keeping your chickens happy can be as easy as building your compost pile in their pen.
Perches and Hiding Spots
Chickens are both playful and adventurous, to a reasonable extent. They like to overlook each other on perches and hide and take naps in little tunnels. These can be made out of almost anything from packing crates to punched-out oatmeal containers. Just give your chickens a dynamic landscape to explore and they will play on it every day.
Build a Swing
Give your chickens a way to exercise and get their feet up off the ground with a swing. This will build their muscles for sitting with more stability on roosts and laying nests. Cheap tire swings can be very popular with homestead chickens.
Whether you have five hens or thirty, it’s important to keep all of your chickens reasonably entertained. This promotes health, activity, and good behavior among the flock. With even a few of these ideas, your birds will be distracted, delighted, or comfortably asleep most of the day. For more great homesteading tips and fun, contact us today!
What is homesteading?
Settling on the land, living a life of self-sufficiency, and a nod to the simpler times before us all come to mind. In reality, it is a million different things to a million different people.
From those of us that have large acreage and fully functioning farms to those of us raising a handful of chickens in their suburban backyard.
From those who grow and can their fruits and vegetables to those who raise their animals for meat.
In our journey through homesteading we have learned a lot in a short time. We have learned what works as far as planting fruits and vegetables, and we have learned what doesn’t work when trying to cram a backyard with birds.
To me however, the most important thing about homesteading is that it is so much more than what you are doing, it’s how you are doing it. Each step in the right direction towards self-sufficiency and enjoying the outdoors is a step forward! The thing that has been the most rewarding though has nothing to do with growing or planting, collecting eggs or raising animals.
The most rewarding thing is how this lifestyle has allowed us to reconnect, with nature and and plants, and animals…but most importantly how it helps is reconnect with each other. To me, homesteading is all about family, good crops or bad, full egg baskets of empty, rain, shine and everything in between.
If you’re anything like us, you always have some sort of citrus around you at all times. I always use it to clean with and I love the way it smells in the kitchen when you clean with citrus, especially lemons. We had a grapefruit pomelo tree in our front yard for a long time and we used it a lot for cleaning with.
I decided to see what could be done with citrus. DIY All Purpose Cleaners are a great option! Here are some other tips for using citrus:
Tip 1: Add citrus peels to any garden.
Insects dislike the smell, so the peels serve as a natural bug repellent. In addition, as the peels break down they release nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium into your soil. Fertilizer, anyone? For improved efficacy, cut the peels into strips and partially cover with soil at the base of each plant.
Tip 2: Use citrus to clean cooking pans.
A simple combination of citrus juice and salt can be used to naturally clean pots and pans. Simply use half a citrus fruit rubbed over salt to scour the pot, pan, or other metal surface. This method is all natural and non-toxic, and will leave your metal surfaces and utensils shining.
Tip 3: Keep lemon halves after juicing.
Instead of using environmentally harmful bleach, simply add the lemon halves to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Then add dingy whites and soak overnight, then wash as usual for bright whites – naturally!
Photo: House & Homestead using Limoneira Lemons.
Subscribe to Limoneira’s Youtube channel for more information on the many ways this endlessly versatile fruit can improve life inside the home and beyond. They provide weekly videos full of recipes, DIY tips and other ways to use Limoneira citrus.
This isn’t the most loveliest of photos but we were feeding a few eggs back to the ducks and chickens (benefits them by providing protein, omegas, and calcium from the shell) and this is just ONE duck egg yolk.
It was hard to focus on but man, the duck egg yolks can be so much larger which increases the good fats and omegas that come with it. The color comes from all the free-range time they have during the day. They forage on all the plants and bugs.
The duck eggs are usually white, but we will be having some chocolate runners laying in a few months and they will lay mint colored eggs.
Here are some of our duck eggs:
Here are our chickens eggs:
Chicken eggs do taste very similar however with the higher fat content a duck egg yolk has, I’d say they are better for baking and fluffing things up.
There is a lot to be said for essential oils and how they can keep your coop fresh smelling and keep the bugs away. Many air fresheners have harsh chemicals that can irritate your chickens or ducks, so DIY is definitely the way to go.
Especially in a place like Florida where the summers can be both sweltering hot and soaking wet, a good coop spray is totally necessary.
Though using neem oil is probably my favorite natural way to treat for nasty bugs (on both plants and elsewhere), neem oil can be hard to find and I don’t use it regularly, so this has become my go to recipe for those in-between moments for freshening up of the hen house.
I’ve narrowed down my mix to only the basics and without further adieu, the recipe is as follows.
5 Ingredient Coop Refresher Spray for Smells, Lice & Mite Prevention
• 1 cup of white vinegar
• 1 cup of water
• 1 generous squirt dr bronners soap
• Approx 15 drops peppermint essential oil
• Approx 20 drops tea tree essential oil
If you’re interested in why this is my “go-to”, peppermint essential oil helps to repel bugs. Plain and simple. When it gets humid and hot, the fruit flies have a field day on any spilled water, or anything else. For some reason, flies hate peppermint!
The tea tree essential oil is good for warding off both lice and mites. This can be sprayed in the coop, on roosting bars and in nesting boxes.
Vinegar is a natural cleaner and a good bleach alternative for some applications. I try to use it as much as I can in place of any harsh cleaners. Vinegar is biodegradable, but isn’t a registered disinfectant and isn’t strong enough to kill germs like staph, so though it’s good for this freshener, this spray is not appropriate for treating any major bacterial or biosecurity issues.
Let’s discuss personal space, Jolene.
You’re a little too close to my breakfast. Don’t even think about drinking my Coca Cola.
But really though, having chickens has been such a fun and rewarding adventure! They even pay their fair share for living on the homestead. ☺️
Our homestead has been recognized by the National Wildlife Federation along with the Florida Wildlife Federation as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. We achieved certification by creating gardens that offer food, water, cover and places to raise young for wildlife and maintaining them in a natural, sustainable way.
We were able to achieve this largely in part due to my husband’s hard work on our natural pond, our herb & vegetable garden, amble fruit trees, converting our shed into a coop and also raising free-ranging chickens and ducks organically which provide food for friends and family.
1. Chopped straw vs pine shavings in the coop has proven to be a great experiment. I didn’t know what to expect but I’m super excited to report that the chopped straw seems to stay cleaner longer and has been much easier to spread around..
2. Peppermint is a wonderful thing to grow in the garden, especially when you have chickens. Certain plants (like peppermint) will spread and take over. I use it daily in the coop, for the chickens to snack on and also, to freshen up the coop. Planting a small above ground garden in a tub, box, etc.. with herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Peppermint, Lavender will be your coop cleaning friend.
3. If you decide on chickens, go big or go home. Within 3 months, we had moved the chickens from the small coop we had, into our shed (more about shed coop on the blog). It doesn’t matter how fancy it is, you’ll soon realize that you’ll want more space. There are so many options, it might even be worth it to build your own.
4. Chia, flax, clover and wheatgrass are great to grow around your yard, especially when you have chickens. They will forage and get extra nutrients from these things but they’re also super easy to get going, they sprout within a few days and provide awesome ground cover.
So there you go… thanks for following us 🙂
You may wonder why I collect herbs daily for the chickens… so let me take a second to explain the benefits of each:
rosemary – assists with pain relief and enhancing respiratory health, it’s also a great natural insecticide.
basil – great antibacterial, mucous membrane health, smells lovely.
lavender – helps relieve stress, can also increase blood circulation, great coop cleaner, insecticide
marigolds – great stress reliever, increases blood circulation, aromatic, insecticide, helps produce colorful yolks
mint – insecticide and rodent repellent, antioxidant, aids in respiratory health, wonderful digestive aid, lowers body temperature naturally which can keep the chickens cooler, smells amazing in the coop.
oregano – combats coccidia, salmonella, infectious bronchitis, avian flu, blackhead and e-Coli, strengthens immune system
sage – antioxidant, antiparasitic, general health promoter, wonderful smell.
Throw in some other herbs you have around your garden and you’re good to go.
First we got chickens, and the chickens needed a coop. So we turned our shed into a coop. When we got ducks though, what they really needed was a nice and natural pond.
After doing a little research, I learned there are many types of ponds that you can build yourself, much easier than I had imagined also. Somewhere in the search for inspiration, I decided that making the pond as natural as possible would fit our homestead lifestyle much better than installing pumps and waterfalls and using artificial chemicals to keep the water clean.
A natural pond not only spoke to our lifestyle but also kept in line with our low maintenance creed.
If you’re thinking about a pond, it’s as simple as starting to dig, and that’s exactly what I did. I picked out the spot, roughed in the shape and started to dig. I took out some rocks, and a few roots but mainly just started to dig. I wanted to go down a little bit further than the maximum depth I wanted to make up for the liner and under-liner material, and I wanted some areas deeper than others, so keep that all in mind as you dig.
Once I got the shape and depth, I dropped in some old carpet pieces to protect the liner from any roots that might try to puncture it, then followed that with the liner. I tried the best I could to make the liner smooth to the kidney shape we dug. The liner overlapped some on the soil and I kept it in place with some rocks around the border.
After this, I filled it up with water, and that was the last time other than topping off here and there I’ve had to add water. It’s mostly now filled by rainwater.
As far as a “natural pond” goes, plants are your filter so choose them carefully. There are plenty of plants that help, but I think looking at actual natural ponds helps to give you an idea what plants grow in your area and which ones help sustain a natural aquatic biome. If you’re lucky you can forage some for yourself and cut the costs.
Another concern was mosquitos, this easily was addressed by adding guppies, mosquito fish, and goldfish. They kept the water moving a bit and actually eat the mosquito larvae.
Simple additions like little solar fountains or sprinklers can help keep the water moving to discourage mosquitos also and help oxygenate the water some.
Lastly, make it your own! Plant around the edges, add solar lights, enjoy larger fish like koi, or just enjoy the natural aquatic pondscape you’ve made and the local plants you’ve foraged.
Here are some progression photos:
It can be as simple or as difficult as you like, but with my creed of simple being better, a natural pond is a fun, creative way to make the most out of your backyard or property and yes, the ducks love it!
The ducks and chickens are cohabiting greatly. We put them all in the coop at night. The chickens go to sleep and the ducks party.
At night, the ducks snuggle in a corner opposite the older gals. I have shown the ducks the ways of the hanging feeders too and they are loving life.
We originally bought separate food but the ducks love to eat what the chickens eat so we ended up with a feed for both.
A completely off the wall post but here are 10 hip hop names for chickens. Yes, super informative post here.
1. CHICKI MINAJ
2. DR. LAY
4. LIL WING
6. EGGS EGGS EGGS TENTACION
7. KANYE NEST
8. MASTER PEEP
9. EGGY EGGZALEA
The decision to turn our shed into a coop came on a whim. We had a small coop we were using but wanted to update the space. We started talking about the idea of using our shed as a coop when we decided to clean it out and it was nearly empty. The shed was purchased years ago and the local company came and delivered it, leveled it and made sure it was placed properly on our land.
I feel any shed can be turned into a coop when you have the basics already in place. The best thing about using what you have is you can really splurge on essentials without feeling bad. If you have a shed that’s not being used, this is definitely a fun project to do. Here are some photos for you to get an idea for your next project:
We use pine shavings from Tractor Supply for the bedding and flooring. It’s only approximately $6 a bag.
We used old wooden crates for nesting boxes. We bought cedar trellises from Lowe’s for their ladders. We used old crib slats for something for them to play on.
My husband took out the window on the door and added some chicken wire for better airflow.
I keep their food and bedding in metal trash cans. I use fresh herbs to keep the coop smelling nice. I planted mint by the front door.
The best part about this project is being able to use what you have. It’s fun to improve upon and create something that fits the needs of your chickens. So be creative and have fun.
I had no idea what all went into having chickens until we decided to jump in blindfolded. To say it is a rewarding experience would be an understatement. Before I go any further, I’d like to mention that having chickens is not super involved, it is fun, educational and it’ll add quite a bit of joy to your life.
I found the Tractor Supply chick days pamplet super helpful and full of information.
We started out with 4 female chickens (pullets) which were only a few dollars from Tractor Supply. We kept them in a tupperware while brooding so they would grow and also be kept safe from cold and predators.
They grow quick! Next thing I knew they needed a bigger space.
If you’re on the fence, get backyard chickens. It is so rewarding. Stay tuned for the shed coop reveal.