Broody hen late in season; first time

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by chickensuit, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. chickensuit

    chickensuit Out Of The Brooder

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    My White Cochin is broody and refuses to get off her eggs. It's been 4 of 5 days now, and we have just let her have those eggs. This morning when I unlocked the coop to let the chickens out briefly to go to the bathroom then went back in, ate, drank and got back on her eggs. It was the first time I'd seen her up so I marked her eggs (she had four but not all were hers). I've been doing a lot of ready but I'm still new to chickens and have never hatched chicks before. I have a few questions:

    It's late in the season, but I live on relatively warm Vancouver Island, BC. Is it too late and too cool for her to successfully have chicks? I have heat lamps I could start turning on at night if that helps. I just don't want her to sit on eggs if success is futile.

    Since there is only four eggs, can I add more if I get them when they're still warm? Or is 5 days apart too long for those to be hatched and cared for by her? I would like the idea of having a few more eggs in there to boost odds.

    In a few more days I will try to candle them. I've done a lot of reading, and by then it sounds like what i should be looking for is veins and an air sac. If I don't see those at seven or eight days should I discard the eggs or should I give it a chance because I'm new and some of the eggs are brown and I might miss it?

    Egg size: our chickens are fairly young still and their eggs aren't huge. Does that matter?

    Candling: It sounds like most people say not to candle too much. I don't want egg explosions though. Whats the best way to candle to not disturb the hen and not disturb the eggs? Maybe at night?

    Background: Our chickens are 27 weeks old. We have 10 hens (mixed heritage breeds: brahmas, barred rocks, columbian rocks, australorps etc.) and one rooster. We have lots of room in our coop (its about 64 square feet) but I only put in 3 nesting boxes so there are only two available to the other hens. It doesn't seem to have changed anything, we are still getting the same egg production as before the cochin went broody. Any ideas or tips would be hugely appreciated. I've been searching lots, but it is hard to find info on the stuff I am curious about.

    Thanks!!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Thread you might like to check out if you haven't seen it https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...ody-hen-hatch-a-long-and-informational-thread
    As long as she is a good dedicated broody and the nest is very bedded and well protected from drafts and dry, she should be able to keep the eggs at the temperature they need to be ... we've had broodys hatch eggs in the middle of winter also without problem. You might consider having a brooder set up to put the hen and chicks in there when they hatch if it is really cold, just so you can be sure the chicks are eating and drinking as they should the first few days and not spending the whole time hiding under the hen.
    You do not want to add any more eggs at this point... hens will usually stay on the eggs around two days after the first egg hatches, so the other eggs would die in the shell when she leaves (unless you find them right away and put them in an incubator) or if she does keep sitting on the eggs the chicks that have hatched could starve to death waiting for her.
    Unless the eggs are really dark, by day 7-10 you should see something candling (lots of good articles in the Learning Center on candling) https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/hatching-eggs-and-raising-chicks ... I prefer to toss eggs I don't see anything in at this point, if you aren't sure you could leave them and check the nest very carefully every other day or two and smell the eggs (you can often smell a bad egg).
    Pullet eggs will hatch fine, as long as your rooster is doing his job, ... especially since it sounds like your girls have been laying a few months at least so you aren't trying to set the first eggs which maybe overly small and iffy depending on your roo.
    Candling at night is usually easiest so you don't bother the hen too much, I usually take half the eggs at a time, or put a fake one or two in there (warm them up) when I take her out. I like to candle at least twice.
    Good luck with your hatch!
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    It's late in the season, but I live on relatively warm Vancouver Island, BC. Is it too late and too cool for her to successfully have chicks? I have heat lamps I could start turning on at night if that helps. I just don't want her to sit on eggs if success is futile.

    It’s harder late in the season because some things that are not a problem in the warmer months can cause problems in cooler weather. However many people are successful even with snow on the ground. A broody will normally leave her nest once or twice a day to eat, drink, and poop. In hot weather I’ve seen a broody stay off the nest for over an hour each time and do that twice a day. In cooler weather it is more like once a day for 15 minutes. If you allow the broody to do her job without too much interference she will normally do a great job. Personally I would not turn on that heat lamp. That’s more likely to confuse her than help.



    Since there is only four eggs, can I add more if I get them when they're still warm? Or is 5 days apart too long for those to be hatched and cared for by her? I would like the idea of having a few more eggs in there to boost odds.

    No do not add more eggs. Those eggs will hatch somewhere around 21 days after they were started incubation. If you add more eggs now, the broody hen will abandon any unhatched eggs to take her already hatched chicks off the nest when they need to eat and drink. I see two options for you. Either leave her alone with those four eggs or save up all the eggs you want her to hatch, mark them, start them all at the same time, and toss the four she now has.


    In a few more days I will try to candle them. I've done a lot of reading, and by then it sounds like what i should be looking for is veins and an air sac. If I don't see those at seven or eight days should I discard the eggs or should I give it a chance because I'm new and some of the eggs are brown and I might miss it?

    I would never discard an egg at that time, even though I’ve been candling for a few years. With you having no experience candling I certainly would not recommend it. It’s too easy to make a mistake. I never candle eggs under a broody, just don’t see a good reason to. Many people do.

    Egg size: our chickens are fairly young still and their eggs aren't huge. Does that matter?

    It might or might not make a difference. I hatch pullet eggs every year. My hatch rate with them is not as good as with eggs from older hens and the survival rate isn’t quite as high from the ones that do hatch. I have enough success that I continue doing it. I don’t know how long yours have been laying, but 27 weeks is not as bad as 22 weeks, which I’ve done. It’s better for them to be older but it’s not necessarily a disaster. You can be very successful with those eggs. Don’t over worry about it.


    Candling: It sounds like most people say not to candle too much. I don't want egg explosions though. Whats the best way to candle to not disturb the hen and not disturb the eggs? Maybe at night?

    If you feel you must candle do it at night when it is dark so you can see better inside the egg.

    The reason an egg explodes is that bacteria gets inside and grows. It does not matter if there is a developing chick inside or not, if the bacteria gets inside it will grow. As long as the eggs are reasonably clean there is very little chance of bacteria getting inside.
     
  4. chickensuit

    chickensuit Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 15, 2014
    BC, Canada
    Thanks for the replies. I feel a little better about it now. I'm still not sure if the eggs are viable or not but maybe somewhere around day 14 I'll try to candle them. I've looked it up quite a bit and it sounds like development should be very apparent at that time. I'm happy that she is broody so if this doesn't take I can try again in the spring. :)
     
  5. SharkmanDan

    SharkmanDan Chillin' With My Peeps

    This thread has helped me a bunch. I have an Australorp hen, who never previously showed any interest in brooding, last week, suddenly started nesting pretty much full time. Finally, I got in the coop on Monday, this week, while she was eating/pooping. Found 6 eggs under her. Not all hers. She very consistently lays very light brown eggs, of the same size and shape. I have only one white egg layer, a Brown Leghorn, and one of the eggs under the Australorp, is hers, while another is the size, shape and color, of one from one of my 6 red hens (2-RIR's, 2-NHR's 2-RSL's, I'm not sure who lays which egg, between them).

    It's been about a week, to 9 days, since she went broody, so, I presume I have 14, or so days to figure things out. We never planned to breed, but had often thought that if a hen went broody on some eggs, we'd just leave her alone, and let nature run it's course.

    The other hens aren't real pleased, though. While they have 22 nesting boxes (yes, I realized after we built the coop, that that was too many) this box, is the girl's favorite box (with the exception of my Dominiker). Now they have to make the big decision, on which box they want to lay eggs in, and apparently they don't like to think about it, they just want to do what the hen before her did.

    So, we are hoping to experience the joy, of some new babies, in a couple of weeks, and the info here was helpful. I guess I ought to go back to crumbled food, instead of pellets, by hatching time, though, if I'm going to let mama care for her little ones, in the big coop.

    Thanks for the good info.
     
  6. chickensuit

    chickensuit Out Of The Brooder

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    Well things haven't exactly worked out as planned. Today was the second time that she was sitting on a different clutch of eggs. Twice I have seen another hen in her box with her, but she stuck it out, so maybe she got cramped out by a hen or went to relieve herself and maybe another hen (or two) stole her box. It's pretty frustrating. I had to throw out seven eggs this time because my understanding is once the eggs have gotten a chill, they are done for good, and I don't really feel like trying to eat them. The consensus seemed to be that 1 nexting box per 3-5 chickens was fine, but I'm going to put in at least 2 more nesting boxes and hopefully that fixes the problem. I put the broody hen (a white cochin) on the roost when I took the fresh eggs from under her and she immediately hopped back into her original nesting box and to sit on the empty nest. I'm guess she doesn't want to give up. Now I feel I have three options:

    1) Build two or three more nesting boxes and hope she doesn't get cramped out of hers (right now I have three boxes for ten hens).

    2) Put her in my other coop with eggs so she is left alone (I also have a 4'x4' coop that was my original plan for a smaller flock). I don't think she'd like being segregated and might not be as committed in a new place, but she seems fairly determined.

    3) Make a new daily routine of picking her up and taking her eggs. I'd feel bad for her though...

    Does anybody have any advice? Also, for the record, how long can eggs be left unattended and still survive? I realize temperature will play a big part in the duration, but assuming our mild climate (righit now only dips down to about 8 degrees celcius), will the eggs be okay for 10 minutes? 30 minutes? 1 hour? more? I've been having trouble finding a reliable answer for this. Thanks again, as always!
     
  7. mommyoftwo

    mommyoftwo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was having the same issue. I took my hen and place her iside a wire cage close to the nest boxes. she was upset at first but after an hour or so she was fine. She hatched 1 of the eggs under her, the others died early or were not fertile.
     
  8. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Making more nest boxes is unlikely to make a difference. In my experience you could have a box per hen and they will still lay in all the same box or two. They seem to especially like laying anywhere a broody is nesting. My brood nests (now) are large enough that this doesn't cause a problem. But, if your hen keeps getting shoved out of her box, then I would suggest putting her in a separate enclosure where the others can't get to her nest.

    I really don't know how long they can chill before they are goners. I know I had an australorp go broody and I let her have eggs. She got forced off her nest by her "mean girl" sisters (before I had bigger brood nests, and she is bottom of the pecking order) and by time I discovered it the eggs were cool to the touch. I assumed they were goners, but didn't want to jump the gun, so I put her in a separate enclosure inside the coop and put her back on the eggs. All but one of them ended up hatching.
     
  9. SharkmanDan

    SharkmanDan Chillin' With My Peeps


    That's what I will have to do. My coop, has been on lockdown, due to the addition of new pullets, for just about the same time frame, as the hen went broody. Apparently, while off the nest, midday, yesterday, the others in the coop, consumed those eggs, as when I first fed them in the morning, she was still nesting, very spread out, and obviously defensive. When I checked back in, mid afternoon, she was off the nest, and all six eggs were gone. Just gone. The coop is very secure, so it is unlikely, that anything got in, and consumed those eggs. It had to be the other chickens. I have 26 chickens, in a 144 sq. ft. coop, with 22 nesting boxes. So, as I get some more eggs, that are still good and warm, I think I'll try putting them in a brooder box, with her, and see what we get.

    I was so excited, that I was less than two weeks, from my first hatch, and that it was all happening the natural way. Now, I'm guessing it will be spring, as the temps are dropping here, and laying should be slowing down, soon.
     
  10. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just be sure you collect all the eggs you want to put under her, and put them under her all at one time. You want them to all have the same hatch date or there will be difficulties.
     

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