Advise is needed

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Amber881, Mar 1, 2016.

  1. Amber881

    Amber881 Hatching

    Jun 28, 2015
    Three days ago I had a White Leghorn go broody. Right, a white leghorn. At first, I thought maybe she was egg bound but when I went to collect the eggs she went at my hand like I was Julius Caesar fluffed up and hissed to no end. Now I had collected eggs the previous day and left them in a bucket on the coop to be collected with the following days eggs. When I went out the next day to collect these eggs and that days eggs, this was when I realized she was broody. Well, she had dumped out the bucket and taken all but two eggs from the bucket. She was laying on about 12 eggs so I let her keep them.
    I managed to remove the eggs the following day from the other hens who all share the same box (we accounted for this and made the nest box 3ft long and added two levels) and planned to move her at night, but didn't get around to making her a pen so we decided just to put a box on the coop floor with her the night following. By the time I got to her that next day the hens had laid and all of the eggs, 4-5 had been confiscated by this hen. So now I have a two-day gap in the eggs she's laying on. I did get her moved to a private box but wasn't sure which eggs were which. So I guesstimate she has around 15 eggs plus or minus 3 under her. I tried to count them in the move but she was so irritated the rooster starting attacking us so we just moved the eggs put her in the box and ran for it.
    I know she'll abandon any eggs after a day or so. I did set up the incubator just in case she abondons the brood at any time. Should I plan to step in and take the eggs left in the nest? If so when should I remove the unhatched ones and put them in the incubator? This is the first time I've had a broody hen, or even have done the incubating thing. I'm a little nervous, especially with the gap in time between the eggs.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016

  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Hi, its just my opinion, but I would let things be. Those that were set together should hatch within 24 hours or so of each other, and the others may hatch a little later, but that will be up to the hen as to whether she continues to sit or not. The main thing that i have learned with broody hens is NOT to interfere in any way, shape or form - she knows whats best for her developing chicks so if she decides not to move off the nest for 2 days, for example - there's a reason.

    All the best
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    that's not too bad a time gap.

    I take my cues from the hen. Some hens stay on the nest for a good two-three days after that first chick hatches, some can't seem to wait to hop off as soon as possible. I don't mess with them until she leaves the nest and takes the hatched chicks to eat and drink. Then I go in and clean up shell debris, usually change out the bedding in the nest area, and assess any unhatched eggs at that point. She comes back to a fresh clean nest and I didn't have to risk getting pecked...we're both happy [​IMG]
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    When I was a kid one of my chores was to collect the eggs. If we had a broody hen I’d mark eggs from the egg bucket and put them under her. Afterwards I’d check every evening to remove the eggs that were not marked. As long as you remove them daily they are still good to use. You will to find any surprises in them. Some broody hens were not that aggressive, some were downright vicious. But no way was I going to tell my father I was afraid of a chicken. Do what you need to do, but maybe gloves and long sleeves will help some. I don’t think I ever had a broody hen draw blood but some really hurt.

    Like Donrae I’ve had broody hens bring their chicks off the nest within 24 hours of the first one to hatch. I’ve had hens wait three days to bring them off. Before a chick even external pips but after internal pip, the chick will usually start chirping. It’s basically telling the hen “Don’t go anywhere, I’m coming”. The hen will often cluck back “Don’t worry baby, I’m waiting”.

    Chicks absorb the yolk before they hatch and can live for three days or more after hatch without eating or drinking. That’s why they can be shipped and why the hen can wait on late eggs to hatch. But after a certain time the chicks need to eat and drink. They tell this to Mama by giving a plaintive chirp. Most broody hens will abandon any unhatched eggs at this point.

    This is the problem with staggered hatches, you just don’t know how all this timing will come together. With a two day difference, she may wait on the late ones, she might not. I suggest watching her when the hatch starts and put any unhatched eggs in the incubator when she brings them off the nest.

    Welcome to the broody hen adventure, it’s a great journey. And next time you’ll know to start them all at the same time. You could still do that, toss the eggs that are under her and give her a fresh clutch of eggs. I know how valuable those eggs become once a hen starts incubating them, but that is what I’d do. You are only three days in. Your life will be a lot less stressful.

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