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Letting hen hatch her own eggs - need advice please

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi there!

I've had chickens for 2 years (RIRs) but never had a hen go broody. Recently one of our favorite hens Mavis decided to get all broody on us, so we let her give it a go.

One egg was fertilized and viable so we waited with eager anticipation. However, due to a crazy day, we didn't get out to check on day 21. On day 22 we went out and the chick had hatched but was dead. sad.png Do you think another hen killed it?

I guess my main question is, what did we possibly do wrong? We have only had mail order pullets before, so we have no idea how much or how little to assist in this process?

We gave her 6 more eggs to sit on yesterday, so any tips on what we can do (or not do) to have a more successful hatch would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!!
post #2 of 6

:welcome  If the chick got out from under the mother and she was still on the nest, another hen may very well have killed it.  Expecting her to set another 21 days may be too much for her.  Brooding is a debilitating process, and 42 days of setting may cause serious problems.  If you want her to raise chicks, buy some and foster them to her.

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
Reply
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sourland View Post

welcome-byc.gif   If the chick got out from under the mother and she was still on the nest, another hen may very well have killed it.  Expecting her to set another 21 days may be too much for her.  Brooding is a debilitating process, and 42 days of setting may cause serious problems.  If you want her to raise chicks, buy some and foster them to her.

When we got out there, there was a different hen sitting on the chick and a couple eggs, and Mavis was on another clutch of eggs.

We have some month old Silkie chicks we are getting ready to put out on pasture, do you think we should give her one? Is that dumb?

How do I keep her from sitting? I don't want the poor girl to get run down. Just pull all the eggs?

Sorry for all the questions. smile.png
post #4 of 6
Before a hen even starts to lay eggs she builds up a lot of excess fat. This excess fat is mainly what she lives on when she is broody. Different hens build up different amounts of fat, plus different hens spend different amounts of time foraging for food when they come off the nest for their daily constitutional. A hen will probably lose a lot of weight when she is broody but that is just fat put there for that purpose. I’m generally OK with a hen spending 5 weeks on a nest but as a rule of thumb I break her from being broody if it is longer than that. The way I do it is to hang a wire bottomed cage off the ground a bit, give her food and water but nothing that looks like a nest, and leave her in there for at least three days. That’s normally long enough but if she goes back to her nest when I let her out I do it again. You can build something but a small dog cage (not solid bottomed dog crate) works really well. Having cool air on her bottom helps.

Since your broody was on another nest and not there to protect the chick it’s quite possible the other hen killed the chick when it hatched. That should not have happened. When a chick is that close to hatching it normally peeps inside the shell to let Mama know it is on the way so she stays and waits for it and protects it. I once had a broody hen kill some of the chicks that hatched under her but successfully raise the rest. When you are dealing with behaviors of living animals about anything can happen. It’s also possible that for various reasons that specific chick was not strong enough to make it on its own. It’s hard to know what actually happened.

I generally let a hen hatch with the flock like that and it’s usually not a problem, but occasionally some hens do go back to the wrong nest. I think that is usually when another hen is on her nest laying an egg and she gets confused. Certain hens are more prone to that than others. The next time that hen goes broody you might want to isolate her so that cannot happen. Build a cage with a nest and room for food and water. Some extra room to go poop would help but you will probably be cleaning it some. It doesn’t have to be that big, a dog cage can work but don’t elevate it. Have it setting on something solid. Leave her locked in there the entire incubation period. Don’t let her out and don’t let any others in.

Putting baby chicks under a broody so she will adopt them happens all the time, but it is a lot more successful when the chicks are just a couple of days old. Broodies and chicks bond really well when they are babies but after they are a bit older not so much. The chicks have already bonded and not with that hen. It sounds like your chicks are weeks old, not a few days, so I would not try it. I think you are likely to see a disaster.

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice! We are letting her take a second go at it and will be much more vigilant this time around hatch day. If this is. If not successful this time we will
Break her

Thanks again!
post #6 of 6

I'm not sure if you got your problem resolved, but the Chicken Chick has some excellent information on broody hens, and on hatching http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/05/broody-breaker-when-hens-mood-to-hatch.html

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