Delayed and sporadic broodiness - how long will eggs stay viable


Oct 29, 2015
My chicken wasn't completely committed to sitting on her eggs at first. It took approx 10 days from the time she laid them until she started sitting on them continuously. During the first 10 days, she would only sit on them randomly, mostly during the day. I don't know if she sat on them at night or not.. I just know she left them often, and for long periods of time.

She is now sitting on them 100% of the time, and has been for at least a week. My question is "will these eggs ever hatch, or did she ruin them during those first 10 days?" Should I wait and see, or if I should throw these eggs out and start her with fresh ones now that I know she's committed? The new eggs wouldn't be hers, but she doesn't seem to care WHO's eggs she lays on at this point. She just wants to sit there all day, and she screams at me if I come too close to her!!


Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
I don’t know where you are so I don’t know what kind of weather you are having. I’m guessing you are south of the equator so the days might be pretty warm.

In the heat of summer I’ve seen a broody hen take two breaks a day for over an hour each time. In colder weather I’ve seen a hen take one fifteen minute break a day. Both times they had great hatches. Since you don’t know if she was on the eggs or not at night, I don’t have a clue what shape those eggs are in. Since it has been several days since she started I’d suggest candling them to see what they look like. That’s the best I can do.

A broody hen will hatch or try to hatch turkey, goose, duck, or pheasant eggs, door knobs, or about anything. If nothing is there she’ll use her imagination. She would have no problem accepting another hen’s eggs so that is an option for you.


7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
First things first. Buy, beg, borrow, or steal a copy of this little book and follow the instructions to the "T"

Second thing is too never allow your hen to retain possession of her eggs. Collect her eggs as soon as they are laid, or gather THEIR eggs several times each day and store them according to the instructions in this book. A clutch of eggs that hens lay eggs in several times each day experiences several start-stop incubation events when hens sit on the nest to deposit each egg and such eggs hatch poorly for several reasons.

By day 14 egg viability drops to 50% and after 21 days, it falls to almost zero.

If you are incubating under a hen always try to set 15 eggs in a sitting of eggs.* The greater mass of eggs helps hold more warmth and with good care you (or rather your hen) should hatch 80-90 percent of her eggs. Never set 2 or 3 or some other pitifully small number of eggs. This is not how Mother Nature intended her hens to reproduce.


*This number should be eggs the size of the eggs that the sitting hen naturally lays.

I am always flummoxed by people who say that they want natural, sustainable, baby chicks then they act like they know everything there is to know about hatching eggs and are disappointed with the outcome. KISS.

If you want a good hatch don't monkey with your setting hen. She knows what she is doing, us humans not so much. Let her come and go to and from her own private nest on her own schedule, just be sure she has food and water waiting on her when she decides that she needs it. Hens have been hatching chicks for untold 10s of 1,000s of years. We humans however have never hatched the first egg.
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