Originally Posted by Huggerlady
Has anyone had 2 hens sharing a clutch? Not sure what to do here. One gets off the other goes on. The sussex was on all night, she got off and the Blue Maran got on. When big mama blue came back, she just sat right next to speckles. No quarreling but I do believe it was hers first.
Yes. That happens quite a bit.
How well it works totally depends upon the flock dynamics and the 2 hens involved.
Talk @fisherlady as she has done quite a bit of co-brooding, or rather her marvelous Silver Penciled Rocks have. She has a number of photos of dual hatching. EDITED TO ADD: I see she has beat me to it and added those photos...do you have the 2-headed Silver Penciled one handy? @fisherlady
A lot of Silkies will co-brood as will bantam Cochins. I have a broody stable that I keep my brooding bantams, who are serial brooders. Right now I've got 1 Silkie and 2 bantam Cochins (sisters) in that stable.
They have all sat on hatches and hatched singularly, but this winter/spring season a co-brooding thing has set in. This year I've had a single mom hatch, then my Cochin sisters hatched 1 chick together, then the Silkie and one of the Cochin sisters went into brood again (grow outs still in the broody pen at 6 and 14 weeks of age!) They were a few days into their co-brood when I had an emergency situation. I set abandoned but nearly developed eggs under them at 14 days development hoping they were seasoned enough to handle the shorter brooding....they have together hatched 1 of those 2 eggs in tandom (one apparently was dead at the rescue point of 14 days development ).
That chick is snuggling with the Silkie who is still setting as well as the bantam Cochin. I'm a little concerned that mommas won't get up with this hatchling, but it is calm in the brooding hutch/grow out pen, and food and water is close by. I tend to use my girls to brood rather than ever try to break a brood as getting a chick is the best way to break a brood. So right now, Silkie has chick, and I gave 2 more fresh fertilized eggs to the bantam Cochin as she won't break until she sees a beak of her own. I'll watch to see what happens.
I'll post a photo below of my first attempt at co-brooding. I set 4 eggs, but only 1 hatched. It went well as to the ladies...they are sisters and got along fine. What unfortunately happened for me was the "no hen zone" formed. Both hens sat superlatively, and they sat very close together sharing the eggs equally. However, there was this zone where a number of the eggs sat and got too cold as they were in the fluff to fluff zone but not really under a hen. Of the 4 eggs I set as a trial, 3 developed to full size, 1 died in hatch, 1 was under developed, 1 hatched and is a healthy chick (which both broodies shared in mothering until 6 weeks of age when one of the mothers went broody again leaving the chick with the other mother).
I may have interrupted at the wrong time checking as the eggs were later than expected (day 22) since they were growing fine but 2 of the 3 fully formed didn't hatch. (Really try to avoid over checking even if you think things aren't going well...I was nervous about my first co-brood).
I have the advantage that I've got a rooster and fertile eggs whenever I want them, plus I've been running some experiments in the main coop as well as the co-brooding in the broody hutch, working in very small batches to see both what my rooster is capable of, what I'll actually get with the breed mixes I'm setting (going for Olive eggers and certain feather patterns), as well as trying main coop brooding vs. broody hutch (isolated) brooding.
So in answer to your question...yes, they co-brood. Quite well if you've got the right hens and flock environment, but you have to know your hens and situation to be successful.