A hen's relationship with her eggs....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by pat payne, Oct 2, 2016.

  1. pat payne

    pat payne New Egg

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    Oct 2, 2016
    I've gotten some information lately and I know some of it is MISinformation.
    I was told that if you remove eggs from a hen's nest, she will search for them.
    I repeated that somewhere and got jumped on.
    I was then told.they only do that when the eggs are fertilized and don't do it when they are not.
    IF that's true, I'm sure hormones are involved.

    Q: DO they search for missing eggs?
    Q: IF so, do they ONLY search for fertilized eggs?

    I'd appreciate help in clearing up this question, so I thought I'd ask where the question will reach some very experienced people.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Maybe there's been a slight misinterpretation. A broody hen will not "search" for eggs removed from them. They cannot discern between a fertile and non-fertile egg (possibly they can tell if an egg is not developing - but thats later down the line of brooding) . A broody hen will gladly "steal" an egg that has been laid, take it back to their favoured spot and sit on it.

    Hope that helps
    CT
     
  3. pat payne

    pat payne New Egg

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    Interesting.
    It seems I was misinformed by the original person and FURTHER misinformed from the crowd that tried to correct me!

    I hope others will chime in here so I can form a thorough rebuttal to all of them!
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    I don't think hens have any way of knowing if an egg is fertile or not. I just don't see how their little chicken brains could process that.

    My layers don't care one whit about that egg. They lay, leave the box, and I can do whatever I want with it. They're not at all interested in brooding eggs, so as far as they're concerned their part of the deal is done. They're not mad at me for taking their egg, they're not looking for the egg, I'm pretty sure they've forgotten about the egg [​IMG].

    Broody hens are a bit different. They still don't know if the eggs are fertile or not. They'll set on non-fertile eggs, fake eggs, golf balls, rocks, etc. That's hormonal, and it's strong. But, they still can't count for a darn. If I have a broody setting on say 6 eggs, and another hen lays an egg there, I'll take that fresh egg away. Broody doesn't know I took an egg and she's not going to look for it. Now, if a hen lays an egg where the broody can see/find it, it's quite likely the broody will go collect it and add it to her clutch. Again, hormones and the drive to reproduce--very strong stuff.

    So, if you have layers and you're worried they're going to have issues with you collecting eggs, rest easy. They don't care.
     
  5. pat payne

    pat payne New Egg

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    I thought maybe the act of fertilization turned on the broody hormones (which I understand can sometimes come on even without fertilization.

    I'm not thinking they use logic to decide, I'm just trying to confirm or deny if they have some instincts in this matter.

    I have no chickens to observe so I'm asking you who do. Some of the chicken keeping people who replied elsewhere gave me no information to support their one word comments of "rubbish!" and the like. And one of them said "they only do that with fertilized eggs." So I'm asking you experienced people here.

    I was also told that they will even break and eat their own egg IF they are that desperate for food/water - so is THAT true?
     
  6. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Mating behavior does not induce brooding. Brooding hormones are triggered by the changing daylight of the seasons. Most hens that are prone to brooding will go broody in the spring. Mine go broody in late summer and fall.
     
  7. pat payne

    pat payne New Egg

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    Thanks.
     
  8. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Fertilised eggs and broodiness have absolutely no causal relationship.

    As for breaking eggs when they are need of food / water - in a nutshell - no. It would be biologically counter-productive. When broody, their metabolism slows down considerably, to help the body cope with limited food / water.
    That is interesting, but certainly not my experience. I live on the equator and have no changes in daylight (or seasons, in terms of temperature). My broody hens will lay for a number of days, then go broody. The number of laying days reduces with age - but I can almost set my clock by when each bird will go broody. I'm not suggesting seasons are not a contributory factor to triggering broody hormones, but in the absence of seasons, its a cyclical phenomena (and often times, tiresome thing to deal with).
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
  9. pat payne

    pat payne New Egg

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    Thanks so much!
     
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Rubbish!


    [​IMG]Sorry....couldn't resist!

    All the information you've received is bogus....you may want to cultivate other chicken mentors. A broody won't search for her eggs, though she will get disturbed for awhile if the eggs or nest are removed. When moving a broody's eggs or nesting site, it's generally done at night and then she is left in darkness on the new nest and eggs until she's settled to it. Most hens will transfer just fine, others never will and will go back to the former nesting site and sit on the ground/nest or other material where her nest and eggs used to reside. She has no knowledge of egg difference, merely that the eggs are gone where they used to be. She has more attachment to that nest site than she does to the eggs, but she will gladly shift to a nest beside of that one if that one has eggs and hers does not. She will also shift to another nest if another chicken has commandeered her nest for the moment...she doesn't particularly care, she's just wanting to sit some eggs. I can remove eggs and put others there, remove eggs and put chicks there and I can remove eggs and put nothing there, she's not going to stop brooding or search for her former eggs just because I do that.

    In 40 yrs I've only possessed one chicken who has ever cared that I collected her egg from a nest and she was never broody a day in her life, but she seemed to know when her eggs were collected and she wasn't happy about it...she would follow me from the coop while voicing an alarm cackle. If I fed her egg to a dog, she would leave off complaining and following me and start cackling at the dog instead until that egg was gone entirely. She was a delightful chicken that laid for me many years, so I didn't mind her little quirks but she was the only one I've ever seen do that.

    She also has no knowledge of them being fertilized or not until a heart forms in that egg and begins to beat and circulate blood into the egg...as those chicks continue to develop, she may remove and eat the eggs that are not developing...but then again, she may not and those eggs will remain to the end. Some eggs will start growing a chick and then quit...she may eat those to remove them from the nest but she may just leave them be and they will sit there and rot underneath her.

    A starving, dehydrated chicken most likely won't even produce an egg, particularly if they are so hungry or thirsty they would peck open an egg in order to live. I'd not suggest testing this theory, as it's cruel. Chickens eat eggs for many reasons....thin shells that are easily broken and leaking, soft shelled eggs that burst open, to remove eggs that are not developing in their brood nest, broken eggs that are dirtying the nest site, etc. It's instinct for them to do so, just to keep the nesting site clean and to keep it from attracting predators, but it's all normal and not induced by being overly hungry or thirsty.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
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