Have 4 hens and 1 Rooster. Two are now sitting on eggs (I put the date) and we'd like to have the grandkids experience hatching. Do they sit for 21 days w/o eating and drinking? Can we combine the eggs so only 1 hen sits? Can you take the hens out to stretch and eat?? What happens once they are hatched. Do they care for them?? Do we need to separate the chicks from the Mom or the others?? Thanks!!!!
Hens sitting on eggs-help needed
I have never done Anything and in 21 days we have babies, the mama knows exactly what to do, just let em sit and do their thing. My girls get up for a quick bite to eat and potty break and goes right back to her nest. And I let mine raise their own babies with no probs. Oh and I never separate mine after the babies hatch, they look out for each other and mingle with the rest.
Edited by Chihuahuamom444 - 3/22/11 at 11:12am
Hi and welcome Yes they do sit for 21 days and more. I have had a broody hen sit for 42 days and they do get off the nest and eat and drink for 1/2 hr or so. I wouldn't combine the egg's if each hen is sitting on seperate nest leave them alone. After they hatch momma hen will take the chick's out and teach them everthing they need to know. Hope this help's.
They get off the eggs about once a day to eat and drink, and then return to the nest.
I have a much larger flock, and the problem that I experience is that when the hen gets up to eat, another hen takes the nest temporarily to lay an egg, while original hen doesn't go back to the right box.
This means that the eggs get cold, and extra eggs get laid from a different day, and eventually the whole thing fails.
With just four hens, it may be manageable though.
I'd let both hens continue sitting if both are broody. Sometimes a hen will give up--and then if it does, you will want to immediately transfer the eggs to the hen that is still sitting.
What breed are the other chickens and the rooster? I have always left the chicks in with the general flock and have not had problems. I stay with chickens that tend to be more gentle.
Once the chicks hatch you'll want to make sure they have 24/7 access to chick feed and small waterers that they can reach. I use plastic fencing intended for human babies or dogs (the superyard play yard) to make separate areas in the coop for the young chicks. The problem is less about aggression and more that the adults eat all the chick food instead of their own food and then the chicks have none!!! Also, the chicks (and the mother hen!) tend to dump over the feeders quite often, so I ended up screwing plastic chick feeders onto a piece of plywood so that they couldn't tip it over. Mommy hen is wonderful, but she's so interested in teaching the chicks how to scratch that she dumps EVERYTHING over!
For water, I prefer a wall-mounted waterer that I mount about half a foot or more too high for the chicks to reach. Then I arrange bricks and cinder blocks for the chicks to climb to get to the water. Keeps the water clean and un-dumped (see previous paragraph) and makes a fun obstacle course, too.
Usually they get up when you're not looking, it's instinctive, to keep the nest hidden. If you aren't finding poop under the broody, she is getting up.
All about broodies:
Thanks so much to everyone!!! I just registered and can't believe the great response. If they don't seem to be getting up at all to eat or drink do I interfere their brooding process?
They ARE getting up to eat and drink--do not interfere with them. Just make sure that food and water are available 24/7, and you have done your part.