Eggs started under hen vs incubator


In the Brooder
6 Years
Aug 25, 2013
North Central Florida
Just wondering what everyone's thoughts are... This is the first time I have incubated eggs.

I have 10 eggs that started 2 weeks under a hen and then she abandoned the nest. I put the eggs in the incubator and 9 out of the 10 hatched. The 10th I am not sure of its true hatch date, but one dud out of 10 makes me very happy.

I put 10 eggs in the incubator because I had the incubator set up and I REALLY enjoyed watching the eggs hatch. Two weeks and I candled three of the light eggs and I don't see anything promising. The rest are super dark shelled eggs and I can't seem to find a strong enough light to check them, but I am sort of discouraged and not sure I really want to know. I think I would rather think they are all duds and be happily surprised if something hatches next weekend.

I am just wondering if anyone has any ideas why there would be such a difference. The eggs from both sets were a mixed batch of eggs that I gathered from my hens. I am turning them the same, temperature the same, humidity the same. I know nature is better at this than I am and I do expect less results, but curious if anyone has had the same experience or thoughts.

I have thought about using my broody hens to start eggs and then move them to the incubator at 2 weeks, swapping fresh eggs under the hen. Of course letting them hatch some and get a break every once in a while. I would imagine it would be harmful to the hen to constantly be broody. I just have some eggs, frizzles and partridges, that I would really like to hatch and of course those hens don't seem interested in being broody, although I know the breeds are broody. I am hoping the hens change their minds and decide to brood for me. I have been setting up different types of "maternity" wards for them hoping they find something to their taste.

The ones in the incubator "should" hatch next weekend. Fingers crossed it wasn't a complete bust and I get at least 3-4 so they have company.
If you have a good incubator and keep the temperature and humidity at the correct levels and use fresh, undamaged eggs you can have a good hatch in your incubator. If you don't you should double check your incubator settings and make sure the readings are accurate and check the conditions inside the incubator, is it clean, mold free etc. Eggs need to be kept at the right temperature, humidity levels and get turned frequently. That's the basics. Make sure they are in a fairly clean environment and you should be good to go. Whether it's under a hen or in an incubator. I've had bad hatches under broody hens and I've had great hatches in incubators, they both can be good or bad. Both have pro's and cons.

Do not give up yet on the eggs that doesn't look promising. Give them another day or 3, sniff them to see if they smell off. If they don't, hang on to them a bit longer. I nearly tossed 4 eggs I had under a broody, pale shelled eggs, that wouldn't show any sign of life when I candled until day 16 when I saw nothing but a dark "blob" in them and though surely they are off. They didn't show any of the signs that I'm used to seeing when I candle, no veins, no dancing embryo, nothing. They didn't smell off, so I left them under the hen. The chicks are 2 weeks old today :)

Using the hens for incubating purposes and swapping their eggs for fresh ones after 2 weeks does not sound like a good idea. Broodiness is hard on a hen, the lack of activity, little food consumed during the normal 3 week period causes a hen to lose up to 1/3 of her body weight. Letting her sit unnecessarily long can end up harming her. I'd suggest rather let her sit the 3 weeks and hatch the chicks or hatch them in an incubator. If you want to encourage broodiness in your hens, mark and leave a few eggs in a nest for them and let nature take it's course. It seems to trigger the broody hormones in some hens, some not, but it's worth a try. If/when you get a broody, swap out the "bait" eggs for fresh hatching eggs.

I hope this helps. Best of luck with your hatch!

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