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Can I increase hatch success with a broody hen? Any advice!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I tried to ask for help in the "Broody Hen Thread" but my question just sort of got lost in the hundreds of posts (sigh). 

 

Last year I had a hen (Buff Orp) go broody, gave her eggs I bought online, only one hatched.  Another hen went broody (Australorp), same procedure but eggs from different seller/location, only one hatched.  No more than 10-11 eggs under the hen each time.  The first batch I don't remember how many were fertile and quit, or if I even checked.  The second batch I did see quite a bit of development in some of the duds, but it seemed like they quit and various points in development. 

SO: is it possible, being in high-elevation, dry Colorado that maybe the developing eggs needed more humidity later on?  What other factors (besides the obvious shipped-egg variable) could be causing such low success?

 

I really didn't poke at the hens too much to candle, and had them completely separate from the rest of the flock to reduce stress or accidents.  I could give more details, but I don't want to get carried away.  Everything else with raising the two individual chicks went so well.  I'd like to try it again, but need to get some ideas on what could be going wrong or how to hopefully improve my hatch rate to anything more than one!  Any advice?

 

P.S. both chicks turned out to be hens (whew!) so statistically speaking if I try again I may only get 2 roos.  And at almost $30 for eggs and shipping, each time, I don't want to spend that kind of money on boys I don't need! 

post #2 of 6

The main thing to consider when using shipped eggs is the condition of the air cells on arrival. You need to check those air cells. If they are are misshapen, or displaced, the eggs will need special treatment for a few days before you can set them under the hen. A few days in an egg carton with the fat end up, should help re-secure those air cells in the proper position. Only set the eggs that have the best air cells. You should also do at least one candling of the eggs at about 10  days to check for viability. Clearing out the ones that are infertile or are clearly dead will help free space under the hen for the healthy eggs. 10 eggs is a lot for the average sized hen to keep covered adequately.

post #3 of 6

I don't think the elevation would make a difference but the dryness could be an issue. Some incubators even come with a fog machine inside it to keep the eggs at a fairly high humidity. You can simply buy a cheap and small fog machine and use that on the eggs for about 15 minutes a day. When the eggs are hatching it is  most critical to keep them damp/humid, but not too wet.  Also it could be your hen. I have 2 female ducks and for 3 years they have been laying eggs and one of them has fertile eggs but it did a poor job nesting so we never got babies until my other female (that didn't have fertile eggs)  took over the fertile egg nest and stoled the other ones eggs this year and all 15 hatched and she's raising them as if they were hers.:jumpy

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you!  I don't remember for sure if let the eggs sit fat end up last year when I tried this.  I'm gonna guess no, out of excitement to get eggs under the hen, but since then I've read up and now know to do this so the air cells set.  I never would have thought to candle them and check air cells before beginning incubation, so again, thanks.  Learning a lot here!

 

So I should not attempt to candle before day 10?  How many eggs would you put under an average hen?  Maybe 7 or 8?  Again, the Orpington and Australorp tend to be my broodies, fairly large-bodied birds. 

 

I'm still baffled by the eggs that had started developing and quit.  Could humidity have anything to do with the chicks coming along and then quitting a few days before hatch? 

post #5 of 6


Yes it is possible because they need the most humidity right before hatching

post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by SillyMissLily View Post
 

Thank you!  I don't remember for sure if let the eggs sit fat end up last year when I tried this.  I'm gonna guess no, out of excitement to get eggs under the hen, but since then I've read up and now know to do this so the air cells set.  I never would have thought to candle them and check air cells before beginning incubation, so again, thanks.  Learning a lot here!

 

So I should not attempt to candle before day 10?  How many eggs would you put under an average hen?  Maybe 7 or 8?  Again, the Orpington and Australorp tend to be my broodies, fairly large-bodied birds. 

 

I'm still baffled by the eggs that had started developing and quit.  Could humidity have anything to do with the chicks coming along and then quitting a few days before hatch? 

I only candle my broody eggs once or twice, and that's mostly because I don't want to stress her out. Large hens can cover up to 18, but I usually only set about a dozen or less. I do not set eggs with questionable air cells, odd shells, or eggs that have gotten any poo on them. The number I set really depends on the individual hen, some can cover more, others cover less. Then, I remove any clears or blood ring eggs on day 10. By then, eggs with healthy embryos are pretty obvious, and so are the eggs that quite early on. 

Humidity can affect eggs that are mostly developed and ready to hatch, but there are lots of other reasons for an egg not to hatch. Under a broody, humidity was not likely a problem. Hens are much better at regulating humidity than incubators are. Your issues were most likely stemming for bad air cells. If the air cell isn't properly oriented in the egg, the chick will not be able to get into the proper hatching position. Bad air cell eggs also have a higher risk of the chick drowning.

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