Broody Hen sitting on fertilized eggs


In the Brooder
6 Years
Sep 15, 2013
Could someone please tell me what's happening in my coop...I have a consistently broody hen (no roosters), so I bought her six fertilized eggs. I separated her, made her a safe, private nest box with plenty of room (an actual horse stall).
She has been laying on them nonstop, Today is Day 22, and still no peeps, no chicks?? What gives? We are in Central FL and it has been a miserably HOT summer. I keep wondering if she has been keeping them TOO warm? Is that possible? At what point do you know these eggs are not going to hatch? And should I give her newborn chicks from the feed store?? Please help! Obviously our first attempt at letting a broody sit. Everyone told me it was "so easy and she will do all the work" ?! I feel bad for her, after all her hard work :-]
Have you candled your eggs? If not I would go out and candle them and see what's going on inside. They may still hatch - were you counting the first day you gave them to her as day one? You don't actually want to do that unless you gave her the eggs before noon. You may just now be on day 21.

If upon candling you don't see any life in the eggs then it would be fine to buy day old chicks and try to give them to her. It's best done at night and be aware she may not accept them so you will want to have a brooder set up just in case. There is also a small chance she will kill them if she rejects them, so be prepared for that as a possible outcome too.
Thanks for your quick reply. No, I didn't candle them, but I will now read how that is done! I've noticed that mentioned several times. What is the "magic day"? Is it Day 22? Do they all hatch within the same 24 hours--assuming they are going to hatch?
Day 21 is usually hatch day, but if temperatures are too high or too low it can take shorter or longer amounts of time. Some breeds also tend to hatch early. Go ahead and candle them and see what's going on. At this stage they should look completely black except for the air cell if they have developed. You may see a triangular shadow in the air cell that moves - that would be the chick's beak and it would mean it's pipped internally, a sign that it will be hatching soon. If you see that and hold the egg up to your ear and gently tap on it the chick will usually peep back at you :)
Thanks for all this info. Sad to report, we candled the remaining two (of six) eggs, and they r clear. Nothing forming in there. She had kicked out the first four and she's still sitting on the last two tonight. I just want to understand what happened so I don't repeat this in the future? Do I assume I was sold six unfertilized eggs?? Does this happen to others? Should I next time put ten underneath her?

I'm off to find her newborn chicks tomorrow! Poor Girl!
What mail order hatcheries do people recommend for buying fertilized eggs?  

Sorry her eggs never developed :(

I wouldn't recommend a hatchery at all - they charge a lot more for their eggs than people who breed do and you get lesser quality birds for having spent more money. Plus shipped eggs are harder to hatch. If you have to do shipped I recommend you first look for a reputable breeder. You can find lots of eggs for sale right here on BYC from good breeders, and you can get good deals in the auction threads if you look there. That said, if you must do a hatchery, I've heard My Pet Chicken packs well and that they have a good customer service.

As for your other eggs, were they shipped? That can make it harder for them to hatch. If they were local, then I would say yes, you were sold infertile eggs :(
How do I find a local farm who I can purchase fertilized and/or newborn chicks from? We are in New Smyrna Beach, FL. I will go to my local feed store this morning and ask them as well. Bummer...learned my lesson...
You could try posting on your local craigslist saying you're looking for some - when you go to pick them up just make sure there's a rooster around :)
Thanks so much for your help! I was able to find a local farmer who has plenty of fertilized eggs for me in the future, but also sold me five day-old chicks! We put them under her last night, and when I went out to peek an hour later, she already had them under her wings! So sweet!

And thank you for posting the great article on Letting Broodies Hatch and Raise! I love this site...

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