BDN interviews Lichtenwalner for article about broody hens

The Bangor Daily News interviewed Anne Lichtenwalner, an associate professor of animal and veterinary sciences and director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Maine, for an article about broody hens. When a hen is broody, she stops laying and sits on a clutch of eggs or other objects to try to hatch them. “It’s really part of their natural behavior. Sitting on eggs is supposed to happen, of course, but you don’t want them to go all broody,” said Lichtenwalner. Broody hens can exhibit characteristics like gravitating toward a dark corner of the coop, plucking their chest feathers to make a bald spot to warm the eggs, or becoming aggressive, according to the article. And they rarely leave the nest, which can create health problems if they do not take the time to eat or drink. “Sometimes as a chicken owner you can make things better by re-evaluating the coop situation,” said Lichtenwalner. “Do you have enough square footage? Do your birds have enough to do other than pick on each other?” She recommends preventing boredom by giving the hens fibrous vegetables or other interesting food, and creating interesting perches and new nesting boxes. “There are two main components to keep a hen from going broody in the first place,” Lichtenwalner said. “For me, it’s really very simple. Check your coop at least once a day, remove the eggs and keep things clean and interesting for the hens.”