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Broody hen with staggered hatch

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
We have a broody hen that we had to separate and move. By the time my husband told me she was setting, it had already been a week and the eggs were developing. I hadn't planned on hatching babies but I just couldn't bring myself to toss them. They free range on 1/3 of an acre, fenced in, so she had multiple spots to choose from but of course chose the favorite nesting area. Other hens kept laying eggs underneath her, as I hadn't wanted to disturb her to mark the eggs I was picking up the eggs that were not underneath her. This led to us cracking open a 2 week developed chick that had died because it was pushed out from under her and got cold. So we had to move her. The move was successful and she kept setting. I candled the eggs (she had 18!) and removed the clear eggs. I did have to toss a few embryos because they were so much smaller than the others. I tried to pick out only the ones that were about the same size as far as I could tell.

Late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning the first one hatched. Second one hatched late Wednesday. Two more babies early Thursday morning. Now in the past 24 hours no more have hatched but she is still setting. The babies seem strong and healthy and she did take them out to eat this morning when we weren't looking because there is chicken food all over my garage, she was having a good time scratching around. But she's back in the nest on those other eggs, still incubating. The poor chicks are curious and keep trying to leave the nest box and peek out and she gets mad and shoves them back underneath her.

Should I candle these eggs and even see if they are good? None smell rotten. Should I leave her setting? We didn't plan to hatch chicks and she is a first time mama so I didn't even know for sure that any eggs would make it to hatch. I'm happy with four, but is there a possibility she could endanger her already hatched chicks while she's just still brooding over the unhatched eggs? Will she stop setting and take the chicks out to scratch and eat if we take the other eggs away from her? Or should we wait it out and let her go until she gives up?
Edited by ameliadanielle - 11/6/15 at 6:11am
post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 
Of course, as soon as I posted, she brought them out to eat and drink right in front me because they kept annoying her and trying to get to the food. She went back in the nest box afterwards and got back on the unhatched eggs.

post #3 of 4
Just leave them alone. She will quit in another day or two. Then take the unhatched eggs away and candle them. You might find a few have a little ways to go with the added eggs. You will need to decide if you will try to finish them up in an incubator or toss.
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
We had baby number 5 freshly hatched and still wet when we got home from work tonight. So she's been doing a good job pulling double duty feeding and caring for the chicks while also setting on the eggs. Maybe we'll have some multiples hatch tomorrow and then she'll be nearly done.
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