Emergency incubating/hatching ideas needed!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by brholler, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. brholler

    brholler New Egg

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    Aug 22, 2013
    We are hen-sitting for our neighbor. He has no roosters, but had a broody hen who was just NOT getting over it. So he got some fertilized eggs from another family and put the five of them under the hen. Oooooh, is she happy!

    Fast forward two weeks, we are caring for the hens while he is away. My kids lovingly feed and water them every day, extract the newly laid eggs and speak in dulcet tones...

    But then - tragedy! One of the eggs gets broken. We clean out the debris when we see it that night. She keeps sitting on the other four. Several days later, one of the eggs is just _missing_. We look everywhere for it, no sign of it. We assume it was a crittur. Two days later, this morning, they go to let the hens out and there are two more broken. The bodies of the chicks with some blood lie in the nest. Kids come home and report this, daughter grabbed the last egg and brought it with her for protection. I ask if they cleaned out the bodies, they did not. We go back, planning to put the one egg back under the brooding mama and clean away the bodies... but they are gone, and the other hens are crowding the nest box.

    We don't put that lone egg back, we bring it home. We read on the internet that sometimes hens will eat the eggs. We read that hatching needs constant temp and humidity. We read that it's tough to have a lone chick. We read that hens don't adopt chicks unless they are broody.

    We believe it is within 3 days of hatching time. We've put it in a box with some rags and a light and a candy thermometer.

    QUESTIONS:
    does it need anything damp for humidity at this point?
    Will the mama take it back after hatching since she's sat on it so long?
    Were we silly to take it away?
     
  2. GardenDave

    GardenDave Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 5, 2013
    Hi, sorry to hear about your disappointing situation. I think in your situation I would have done the same and removed the last egg.

    The missing egg sounds like it could have been a rat, or depending where you live it could have been snakes. The chicks disappearing could be either of those but more likely by the sound of it has been the other chickens. I think if rats or a snake had been present the chickens wouldn't be so willing to hang around lol.

    I think the problem with having a lone chick is the introduction with other chickens as it is older. Raising a lone chick will obviously cause socialising issues which won't be helped by the fact that it will be the only one to focus on when introduced to another flock. With more chicks being introduced at the same time there are more chicks for the current flock to focus on and so the bullying gets shared out a bit - sounds awful I know but its true.

    As for heat and humidity - having a bowl of water under the light might be enough. any is better than none I suppose. I'd just suggest never to let the bowl go dry.

    I have no idea if the mother will take her back - I'll leave that for somebody with more knowledge to advise about.

    Sorry I can't be much help but I do think you did the right thing removing the last egg. Whatever is taking them will have known about that last one, and as for the broken ones that could have easily been the mother being clumsy so the same would have probably happened to the last one.
     
  3. brholler

    brholler New Egg

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    Aug 22, 2013
    Thanks, I did add a bowl with a wet rag in it (to minimize spill risk) under the cover layer next to the egg. I microwaved the rag so it came in warm and daughter is checking the thermometer every 30 seconds to make sure I didn't over-heat it. [​IMG]
     
  4. Sphinx

    Sphinx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If the broody mama is still sitting in the nest, I'd be inclined to put it back. If possible, I'd make it so the other hens can't get to her.
     
  5. brholler

    brholler New Egg

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    Aug 22, 2013
    Thanks, I wish I could keep them apart, but I can't in this case of taking care of someone else's coop.

    (hey, you know why chicken coops have 2 doors? If they had 4, they'd be chicken sedans)

    There' the one shed they all go into at night, and the nesting boxes are open to the center of it... Do you think it is important enough to put in a box to trap her in her nest and then lock out the other hens when she goes out to feed in the morning?

    It's tough because we just go down there twice a day.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  6. Sphinx

    Sphinx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is the coop big enough that you could put a dog crate in there? And is hypothetical dog crate big enough for the hen, food, and water?

    Of course, this is assuming it's not mom busting open the other eggs.
     
  7. brholler

    brholler New Egg

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    Aug 22, 2013
    We put the egg back tonight, and put up a board across her nest box. Tomorrow, we'll guard the egg while she is out then put her back. we gave her food and water right in her box, and she seemed *SO* happy to have her egg back. Hope the board will stay put to keep the others away!
     
  8. GardenDave

    GardenDave Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 5, 2013
    If this doesn't work out I'd be tempted to get a cheap webcam and a USB extensention long enough to go inside (obviously at the home with the coop, or a reeeeeeeeeeeally long one to go to your house lol), put some boiled eggs in there and just sit inside watching it live to see EXACTLY what is going on.
     
  9. brholler

    brholler New Egg

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    Aug 22, 2013
    LOL, I don't think they make USB cables 1/4 mile long!

    Egg was still fine this morning, board was knocked but not down. We guarded as mama went out to stretch. The largest hen kept trying to get in there, I bet it's HER!! After Mama stretched and went back in, we locked up the coop with Mama inside and let the others free range. Tonight Mama is still on that egg, sounding very content. I hope that chick hatches soon! Tonight at lock-up we'll put the board back over her nest box and continue that way until we have a chick. Wish we'd gotten the exact lay date on that egg, but I expect it is very soon.
     
  10. brholler

    brholler New Egg

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    Aug 22, 2013
    Another question, what about moving mama and her egg to a different nest box? She's in one of the smaller ones, but if I'm blocking her in, I think she'd like one of the larger ones in the shelf below. Do y'all think she will object to a move or not care or like more room? Do brooders get attached to their space?
     

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