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chicks in winter?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by michinrepose, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. michinrepose

    michinrepose New Egg

    May 10, 2010
    I hope someone out there in coop-land has had an experience like this and can share with me what they did about it. I thought my bantam hens had just stopped laying for the winter, odd because they had always laid eggs throughout the winter before, but frankly I was too busy to really look into it to any great extent. Come to discover that they had been laying eggs in a hidden area of the coop, most of which cracked due to the single-digit temps we've had here, but one hen has been setting on her eggs, a dozen of them. I realize that this hen has been missing for some time, so it's possible she's been sitting on her eggs a few weeks, I am afraid to remove eggs that are well on their way to becoming chicks, but I've never experienced a hen getting broody in winter before. What should I do? I'm really bad at candling eggs, no matter how I try I never see anything, should I let her "hatch" them? What then? Gee whiz but these chickens always seem to be throwing me for a loop, any suggestions out there? Thanks
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    They will mess with you, won't they?

    Probably what will happen is, some of the eggs will hatch, then she will abandon the rest to raise the chicks. She should be able to handle keeping them warm just fine, even in winter. Of course she will need good bedding and a dry, draft free place to make a nest for them. The only other need is, no layer feed for the chicks. Just feed the whole flock the chick starter or grower you're giving the chicks, and have some oyster shell available separately for laying hens. You can even give the chicks medicated starter (if with amprolium) and continue to eat the eggs, as the amprolium stays in the gut of the hen.

    Good luck!
  3. glebreton

    glebreton Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 8, 2013
    St. Martinville, LA
    I also have a bantam hen that is very broody. She started setting about 10 days ago, but I have been pulling the eggs because I thought it was a bad idea to have chicks when winter is just starting. She raised a brood that hatched in September and did well caring for the chicks. Only one is still alive (predators got the others) but she is already setting again.

    If I decide to let her set on a couple of eggs, is it too late now that she is already about 10 days into setting? Will she give up in a few weeks at the 28 day mark from when she started or will she remain on the eggs until hatching if I start to leave them under her now? BTW, I have a rooster in my pen that is mounting all hens, so I am confident some of the eggs she is setting on would be fertile.

    Thanks guys...
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    You really can't predict an individual broody, but in general, yes, you can put eggs under them after they've been broody for a week or two, and they will stay with the eggs til they hatch, then raise the chicks. If their hormones are "normal broody" hormones, that is. Many people do it this way so they can choose the eggs and place them all at once, so more will hatch. Yes, it's quite likely all the eggs are fertile, or at least most of them. Good luck!

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