2 broody hens....advice needed!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by chickensinapub, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. chickensinapub

    chickensinapub Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 12, 2012
    I currently have 2 broody hens. One went broody 3 weeks ago today, and the other a week later. They sit together, and due to clumsyness, they are now down to one egg each.

    So, if all goes to plan; one chick should hatch today. However, the wrong chicken is sitting on the wrong egg! Who will be mother?

    Also, what should I do if it doesnt hatch? If I take it; there will be 1 egg left between them and this isnt due to hatch until next Friday.....

    Any advice would be grately apreciated. If I got some day old chicks, would they take them?
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Very frequently hens sharing a nest results in broken, stolen, cracked eggs and very low percentage hatches. IF the egg hatches, I would try to get the hen that has been setting longest separated with the chick. Have you candled the eggs? My guess is that they may very well be non viable. Day old chicks introduced under the hens at night would most likely be readily adopted.
     
  3. chickensinapub

    chickensinapub Out Of The Brooder

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    I havent candled them, but worry it is too late on to do this now. If nothing seems to happen in a couple of days; I'll give it a go, but both hens get very angry if I go near them. Its a struggle to get the newly laid eggs out from under them. (All other chickens insist in laying in this same nest./......

    Just been up now; and hen no. 1 is sitting on both eggs, and the other on none. If the first one htches, will hen no. 2 take over sitting on the remaing egg?

    I worry most that one or neither are fertile, and its going to be awful trying to get them off with no chicks.

    How exactly do you introduce day old chicks? Will she not crush them if put in at night?
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Life can get pretty complicated can't it? There are a whole lot of different things that can happen. I'll take a stab at answering this, but if you could tell us what you want to happen, we might be able to give you a better answer.

    Some people have multiple broodies share a nest, eggs, and chicks and it works out great. Sometimes you have real problems. The hens may fight over eggs or chicks, with eggs or chicks getting damaged. One broody may kill the chicks that hatch under the other. You see posts on here all the time where people are real happy with the way multiple broodies work out for them, yet you also see posts where there were problems.

    If you are that afraid if the broodies, you might try wearing leather gloves and thick long sleeves, but sometimes you need to do what you need to do. You are the adult in this relationship.

    Your situation is complicated by having two different hatch dates. It's very possible that both broodies will leave the nest if one chick hatches. I'd say it is even probable. But there have been cases posted on here where one broody left the nest with the chicks and the other stayed on the nest. They are living animals. You don't know what they will actually do.

    One possible option may be to try to split the broodies. Leave one in that nest but, at night, move the other to a place where she is locked up and cannot get back to the original nest. You'd need a nest, enough room to feed and water her, and enough room for her to poop. Again there are different ways to go about this, but I'd use fake eggs to see if she accepts the new nest before you gave her a real egg.

    You can let them go on as they are and see what happens. I really think they'll both abandon the second egg if the first hatches but you'll never know.

    Normally I'd say you could break one from being broody, but you have that complication of different hatch dates. If that first egg does not hatch, this becomes an option.

    You could remove one broody and the chick before they abandon the nest. Have a place prepared where you can lock them up and keep the broody and chick away from the original nest. She might accept the chick or she might not. The other broody might stay on the nest with the second egg or she might not.

    A broody will often accept day old chicks. Some people are successful just introducing them during the day, but when I do it, I put them under her at night after it is well dark. She feels them moving under her and hears them peeping all night, so by morning she has accepted them.

    I’ve also added chicks to a broody hen’s brood during the day. I had one broody that hatched and I had incubator chicks that hatched at the same time. When the broody took her chicks off the nest, I just put the incubator chicks with hers. No problems at all.

    The second broody and later hatch date complicates this too. Even if you separate the broodies, the second one may hear the chicks and abandon the nest to go look for them. The broodies may fight for possession of the chicks or they may work together to raise them. The second broody may stay on her nest.

    I can't give you any guarantees with any of this. As I said, it can get complicated.

    I really don’t know what I’d do in your situation. I don’t know your set-up or your goals. I don’t know how valuable either unhatched egg is to you. They tend to get real valuable when they go under a broody or in an incubator. I’d either let them go and see if the first egg hatches, which I think puts the second egg at risk, or I’d try to separate them if I could, but you may not be able to or it may break one from being broody.

    It’s a rough situation. I do wish you good luck.
     
  5. chickensinapub

    chickensinapub Out Of The Brooder

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    thank you so much for your reply!

    Ideally, I would like chicks. we only have 4 hens and 1 cockerel at the moment, so would like to increase that.

    I am thinking that I will leave it until Saturday and see what happens. If the egg hasn't hatched by then, I doubt it will.

    There is a poultry market near by on a Sat where you can get hatching eggs and day old chicks. I am thinking I will split them up and give them each 3 hatching eggs, and see what happens with these.

    At the moment, they seem quite happy sharing a nest; despite the fact one is sitting on all the eggs, and the other is just sitting next to her.

    I am going to see if I can borrow a spare run from a neighbour. If they both have chicks hatch separately, but at the same time, will they respect each other, and just look after their own; or will they try to pinch each others?

    They are free range here within reason, and have approx 50m square to wonder around in. When the chicks are young, I'll want to keep them locked in a run. Can I put the two lots together, or will this cause confusion between the mums?

    Thanks again for your help!
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I really don't know. They may imprint on their own chicks and keep their distance. One may try to steal all the chicks. They may merge the chicks and work together peacefully to raise them.

    To reduce the complications, if they have chicks the same age, I'd personally break one from being broody and give all the chicks to the other hen. I really don't see any advantages ot having two broodies with that few number of chicks. Here's a thread on breaking broodies that might help.

    Break a Broody Thread
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?pid=2176186#p2176186
     

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