Do chickens really know if their eggs will hatch or to abandon them?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by quarterhorsetj, May 6, 2009.

  1. quarterhorsetj

    quarterhorsetj New Egg

    May 6, 2009
    My mom has 5 chickens and a rooster, all at about 6 years old. 2 chickens are sitting on a total of 13 eggs. Sometimes another chicken will sit in. They have been sitting on them now for about 23 days, and so far nothing. The chickens are acting like they think it is closer by constantly checking under themselves, and continually covering the eggs around them fully with hay, more so in the last few days. Does a chicken know they should continue to sit, or will they know a time period to abandon the eggs. Might be a silly question, but I am curious. thankyou.
    Last edited: May 6, 2009
  2. steffpeck

    steffpeck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2007
    Erda, UT
    My broody just sat on 3 eggs for 21 days and only 1 of the 3 had babies in them. The other 2 were clear and she stayed on them for 2 days after the one chick hatched, and then I finally took them and candled to see what was going on and they were clear. So I booted her off the nest and put the one baby in with some other chicks.
  3. Catalina

    Catalina Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 19, 2007
    You're going to get a lot of different opinions on this.

    I think they are birds, with tiny brains (albeit sweet, huggably bird brains) and they don't know when an egg is bad. If they knew when an egg was bad, then they wouldn't sit on the nest until the egg explodes underneath them.

    Just my opinion.
  4. Portia

    Portia Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 29, 2008
    South Central PA
    Mine have always hung out for a day or two after the first hatch, then whatever doesn't hatch was abandon to take care of the very restless chicks.
    I've only had one hen ever kick an egg out of her clutch. At first I though it was an accident, so I tucked it back in and found it back on the coop floor later that day. I know it was the same egg b/c I mark them. I candled it and it wasn't viable so I threw it out.

    I also have a hen that goes broody with frightening frequency and won't budge off the nest until she has at least one chick. She I found this out when she was willing to sit for 2 months until I found her a couple chicks to mother. Good thing she is one that always takes time for herself every day to get a bite of food and dust.
    Last edited: May 7, 2009
  5. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    My theory is it's similar to going broody but not being a good mama: These hatchery chickens have been bred to lay well or grow fast or whatever, and not to be broody or be good mothers. They are unpredictable, but I figure much less likely to go broody or be good mothers than the animals they were bred from.
  6. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 17, 2008
    DC Region
    Some will. Some won't. They're often NOT right. I candle every kicked out egg and incubate any I think they may be wrong about.

    Brains the size of peas. Instincts aren't perfect. Years of production breeding have messed many of them up. And any animal as a first time mother especially often makes huge levels of mistakes.

    My first time broody turkey completely ruined her own hatch. I stole her eggs, placed chicken eggs and when those were due - stuffed chicks under her.

    Her eggs were repeatedly cold (left for long periods), muddy, unturned. When I yanked them at 15 days they were completely staggered, stuck to the sides and fouled. Of the original 14, I lost the first three due, but of the remaining 11 I managed to salvage 7. They hatched over a period of 32 days and drove me insane.

    Broody's really vary in quality and consistency.

    I've had ones that only ever kicked out clears and quitters.

    I've had them kick out eggs that went on to hatch.

    Now that I own a bator - everything questionable gets a full run in an incubator.
  7. Ol'FashionHen

    Ol'FashionHen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 24, 2008
    The South
    My Sophie girl I purchased from MPC she is a NHR and the best momma to her chicks..she went broody and was serious about it, ate/drank everyday, never pooed in the nest and hatched 4 chicks. She sat on the nest 2 days after first hatch and was done. All other eggs were clear or stopped developing. She takes good care of her babies and was taking them in the tall brush behind the chicken coop when they were a few days old [​IMG].
    And my silkie she would get confused as to which nest was hers [​IMG], so I just bought some chicks and slid under her. She probably would have done fine if I confined her to her nest only while brooding. She has been a good momma too.
  8. quarterhorsetj

    quarterhorsetj New Egg

    May 6, 2009
    It turned out that all the eggs were no good, and the chickens did seem disapointed. One of them actually got crabby! Anyway, a friend knows of someone with 24 good eggs, and rather than get a bator, my mom is giving them her two chickens to lay on them. They should be happy now! Thankyou for all your replys. Someday, maybe hopefully in a year, I can get set up for having some chickens too!

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