Broody abandoned nest-Day 18!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by langfordcr, Jan 13, 2017.

  1. langfordcr

    langfordcr Out Of The Brooder

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    We are on day 18 of my broody sitting on a nest of eggs. We started with 12 eggs and we are down to 4. We candled day 10 and 3 of the 4 looked viable. I wasn't sure about the 4th so I left it. Momma hen has only left her nest long enough each day to do her business and has done well. She's overly protective actually!

    I've been gone from home all day today. When I left this morning she was in another nesting box and another hen was on her eggs. This has happened multiple times during this process (usually while she is out and another hen chooses her nest to lay) and I just remove the newly laid eggs each time. Eventually she always gets back on her nest. Well today, after being gone over 6 hours, she was still in the box I saw her in this morning. Her nest had her 4 eggs plus 5 laid today. All the eggs were cold. I'm in Texas and it's 33* right now. Have I lost my chicks? For 5 eggs to have been laid in that nest today I know they haven't been exposed all day long. But they are all completely cold. I took out the 5 eggs laid today and put her back on the nest. I'll check her soon to see if she is still there. I don't have an incubator but I can get one from a neighbor if she abandons again. But I'm curious if the exposure today has killed them?
     
  2. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Hi

    You might get away with it, but the hatch may be delayed a day or two as a result of them getting chilled, however they may also have already died of the cold. It is worth allowing her to continue though as nothing to lose at this stage.

    I would not count this as abandonment. She is getting pushed out of the nest by other hens...it is a management fault, not hers. Brooding in communal nests poses problems. If other hens continue to lay in her nest, this could happen again (in fact I'm amazed it hasn't happened before now and may even be why you have so few viable eggs left) and if you are lucky and chicks do hatch, there is a good chance that they will get stood on and crushed as they are hatching and even afterwards. I would fasten her into her nest with some sort of temporary cover. If it is a free standing nest, then a cardboard box over it with holes punched in it will do. Lift it off once a day for her to get off and have a break and then put it back over her when she returns.
    People will say that broody hens have been hatching chicks without our interference for thousands of years but once you keep them in a confined space and give them limited places to nest, then that is when problems like this arise. In an unconfined flock broody hens will often make a secret nest away from the communal nest boxes and lay their clutch of eggs and then incubate them without interference from other chickens or humans and usually manage fine as long as a predator doesn't sniff them out. Once you pen them up with other chickens then it becomes more difficult for them, because other hens intrude into their nest and lay eggs. That's why I think it is best to give them their own nest and private space, at least until the eggs hatch.

    Good luck and I hope all is not lost.

    Regards

    Barbara

    PS. Don't try to move her at this late stage as she may well abandon them. Better to find some way of fastening her into her nest so that the others can't get in. As long as you let her out once a day, she will be fine fastened in for the rest of the time..
     
  3. langfordcr

    langfordcr Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you, rebrascora! I teetered back and forth about moving her in the beginning but feared she would abandon them and worried about integrating again after the hatch. So I left her. But, after dealing with cracked eggs and digging out new eggs every day I decided if she goes broody again I will seclude her in the beginning! I think more of the eggs would have been saved had I done so. It's my first year having chickens and my first broody experience. So I'm learning for sure! Thank you so much for the idea to isolate her nest! If only I would have thought to do that in the beginning this process would have been so much easier! She is in a corner nest so I only have one side of the nest to block. I think hanging a towel over the opening should do it??

    Now as far as after the hatch, I do plan to move them. They are in the elevated part of our coop enclosure and will be unable to get out. My chickens also free range and I don't want them out to become prey. My husband made me a temporary A-frame coop out of an old porch swing frame. However, our yard is uneven. So there are open areas along the ground big enough for the chicks to escape, and predators to work themselves in. So I don't think it's going to work as I imagined it would. I'm thinking now to set up my pack and play, which is what we used as a brooder in the house when we first got our day old chicks. I can set it up in the run and move momma and chicks into it on hatch day. My nests are buckets so I can literally pick up the entire bucket and move them without disturbing or even touching them. It would be very cramped in the run with this set up but they would be much more protected! And there is a top on it so my other hens won't be able to get in. Then I can use the temporary A-frame for the daytime when they are big enough not to get out in the low spots until we integrate. As far as heat, will momma hen provide all they need? My run does have a heat lamp that I keep on when the temps are low. But it wouldn't be right on top of the pack and play. I do have another lamp I can add but momma might be too hot that way. And if momma is "trapped" how often will she need to get out and for how long (after the hatch)? I will have to be the one to let her out each day.

    I'm thankful for the wisdom on this board for new peeps like me! Thank you in advance!
     
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We all learn from experience. I was incredibly lucky with my first broody hatch (14 out of 14 hatched and survived....my Tasha is a total star) Poor soul had a lot to put up with, with me meddling and fussing all the time. Since then I have had my share of calamities though and learned the hard way from my mistakes, so please don't think I am being judgemental or critical.

    Ok, firstly, they shouldn't need an artificial heat source as long as they have their broody hen mother and shelter from the worst of the weather. She has supplied enough heat to incubate eggs and that same heat will keep the chicks warm. Since it is winter, they may need to stay inside a coop or shelter of some sort for the first few weeks though. The broody should know what they need, but if it is her first time you can't guarantee it. I've never had one brood in winter and I don't know what your climate is like so it's difficult to advise. Making sure that they have access to a shelter with food and water at ground level is important through the day, even if you have to lift them back into the coop each night for safety until they get the hang of the ramp.

    Having mobile nests does make things a lot easier. I use old drawers from bed side tables that people have thrown out. A towel across the front may work but problems could arise if she pushes out through it for a broody break when you are not there and when she returns, she cannot see her nest of eggs so she goes into another one instead. Better to fasten something solid over it so that you have to let her out and can then supervise her whilst she is out....I do it on a morning whilst I do chores.... and then fasten her back in when she returns and know she is safe for the rest of the day. I'm guessing this is a plastic bucket on it's side...in which case you need to ensure plenty of ventilation when you cover it or it will get damp with condensation. Maybe chock a piece of plywood across the front with a couple of bricks but make sure there is a gap of a few inches at the top, just not enough that she can scrabble out. Perhaps if you post some photos of your set up I could make some suggestions.

    Regards

    Barbara
     
  5. langfordcr

    langfordcr Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't think you are judgmental at all! I appreciate help from those with experience in this. I didn't think they would need artificial heat but wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything.

    I'm in Texas where it can be 70* in the morning and 30* at night! The joys of Texas winters!

    I can post some pics tomorrow when it's daylight.
     
  6. langfordcr

    langfordcr Out Of The Brooder

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    It's day 22 and we are hatching!! One is completely hatched. One has been about the same all morning. First thing this morning I found the hole facing down into the shavings. I turned it but it was facing down again about an hour later. Is it ok? A third has just cracked the egg. I'm suspecting the fourth won't hatch because it was questionable when candled It's so exciting!! [​IMG][/IMG]
     
  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh Wow! Delighted they have survived to hatch.
    I would be careful about checking too often as the membrane can dry out and shrink wrap them if you keep lifting the broody off to look. That said, my last hatch, I assisted one of the chicks to hatch as it was making no progress after pipping. I've always been very wary of interfering and although I got the chick out alive I felt uncomfortable about helping it and didn't assist any of the others. Sadly it was the wrong call and none of the others managed to hatch, whereas the one I helped is now 12 weeks. It was my best broody hen hatching them too, so I've come to the conclusion it was because they were young pullets eggs and the chicks weren't big and strong enough to make it out without help.
    Afraid I never worry about which way the eggs are facing when they pip under a broody, so I can't help you with that.
    Keeping fingers crossed they all make it out alive. Please update the thread with progress reports.

    Good luck

    Barbara
     
  8. langfordcr

    langfordcr Out Of The Brooder

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    Chick #2 is here! This is super fun to experience! I think #3 will be here in a couple of hours. Still no sign of #4.
     
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is brill news! Congratulations so far. Hope it continues to go well. [​IMG]
     
  10. langfordcr

    langfordcr Out Of The Brooder

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    May 30, 2016
    #3 also arrived today and all 3 are doing well so far. Still no sign of #4 so I doubt we'll have another hatch. We moved momma and babies to a dog crate inside. We are having storms tonight and I felt better having them inside.
     

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