Encouraging Broodiness...

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Jayzandra, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. Jayzandra

    Jayzandra Chillin' With My Peeps

    Okay, I have been doing quite a bit of research on broody hens and how the process works, as well how to encourage a hen to go broody.

    The natural process is that a hen will lay a single egg every day for roughly 12 days or so, then once she feels she has a large enough clutch, she will start to incubate. So, theoretically speaking, if I were to just NOT collect eggs for a while and one of the hens decided to go broody, she could successfully hatch them, right?

    Okay, well, what if I collected about a dozen eggs over a 5 day period (keeping them on my dresser in my room) and then just put them all back out into a nest box? If it took 4 days for a hen to go broody on them, could they still hatch?

    I'm guessing the air temperature plays a major roll in viability while the eggs are dormant. What is the temp range that they can survive before being sat on?

    It's pretty warm out here in the Arizona desert, so my guess it it's too hot?
  2. MadabtChickens

    MadabtChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2012
    near Branson, MO
    Hatching eggs should be stored in an egg carton with the fat end up at room temperature for a maximum of 1 week. After a week the hatchability rate decreases. I have never seen any info on making a hen become broody and have not had luck trying with my girls. Right now my problem is getting them to stop being broody. I just read this great blog the other day on broody hens. I hope you will find it helpful: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/08/caring-for-broody-hens-facilitating-egg.html.
  3. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Breed is going to be a big factor for you. What breed of hens do you have? The problem is that due to domestication and breeding of certain traits, "the natural process" is not really very natural anymore and broodiness is really hard to predict and encourage. Have any of your hens ever gone broody. Encouraging works with a hen who is prone to broodiness but just putting a big clutch of eggs out is unlikely to make a hen go broody who is not already inclined to the behavior.

    It's not the eggs that make her go broody its her hormones and instincts and what she has going on in her brain. You are just hoping to trigger what is already there -- if it's there. I have a cochin who is broody ever 2-3 months in a completely empty nest and she has never met a roo in her life.

    I believe you can keep eggs waiting around for about 2 weeks for good hatch rates. Most people leave them on the counter but I believe under 85 degrees (I sort of remember you want it above 70 and under 85 but I would double check these numbers as it has been awhile since I did my research) is ideal so it may be hotter than that room temp where you are depending.

    If you are struggling to get a broody and want to hatch eggs this way you may want to consider adding a notoriously broody breed to your flock like cochins or silkies. Of course every bird is different and breed is not everything but it would certainly increase your odds.
  4. Jayzandra

    Jayzandra Chillin' With My Peeps

    The hens I have that are old enough to go broody are SLW, EE, RIR, and Black Star. I have a Cuckoo Marans and a Silver Grey Dorking, but they're still very young. I did get a Salmon Fav because I was told they are a broody breed, but she turned out to be a he. I thought about silkies, but they can't be sexed. I may just go that route eventually anyway.

    I get why you're supposed to store the eggs fat side up, because of the air pocket, but that just seems counter productive as far as mother nature goes, because I'm pretty sure wild chickens, or any bird for that matter, dont stand their eggs up on end. LOL.

    I used to breed cockatiels and it seemed so much easier.
  5. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    What I would in your situation is slip a couple of fake eggs or gold balls into a nest, preferably not the box where everyone lays, but one a little off to the side, where they can see it. Continue removing all the fresh laid eggs daily, store them on the counter, fat end up, as I'm assuming you are going to store them in an egg carton? In an egg carton the options are fat end up or thin end up and fat end is correct. You don't want the air cell ending up in the wrong end of the egg. Try and keep the room where you are storing them cool, don't put them in the fridge (greatly reduces hatchability, depending on your fridge settings) and don't wash them. So leave out clean, undamaged eggs only. Replace the just-in-case-a-hen-goes-broody egg pile every second day or so to keep them fresh. OR Wait until you "catch" a broody, then start collecting eggs for her to hatch. You will have to make sure she really is broody, which means letting her sit for 2 days and nights in a row, sleeping in the box as well. This will give you plenty time to collect a clutch of eggs for her.

    I have tried the "bait egg" method with some success and I've seen others do it with much more success than I had. As the above posters said, it depends on the breeds, the individual hens etc. Here's hoping you have a few good broodies in your flock :) Let us know if it works for you!
  6. Jayzandra

    Jayzandra Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had put the decoy eggs in a box that nobody ever uses, but somebody moved them to the favorite box. But nobody is sitting on them. This confuses mr a little. Why move them if they're not going to sit. Silly little girls.

    I will keep you updated if I have any success.

    Thanks for all the helpful info everybody.
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I pretty much agree with Sumi. If you can collect a dozen eggs to hatch in 5 days, don't start collecting until a hen goes broody.

    Put some bait or sacrifice eggs in the nest, a nice large collection of them. Sometimes this can help trigger broodiness, but it's far from a sure thing. Honestly, none of your breeds are known for broodiness, but then again I've heard of white leghorns going broody, so who knows?

    Once you think a hen is going broody, start collecting eggs. I never give eggs to a broody until she's been on the nest a minimum of two consecutive nights. So, you'll easily have a nice clutch for her to set on in a few days, and at the same time confirm she's serious about brooding. Sometimes they just flirt with brooding a few days before they get serious, that's why I wait until they're on the nest two nights.
    1 person likes this.
  8. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    I agree with the others that you have to have a broody type to have any hope of encouraging a brood.

    You actually may have some luck with your Black Star.

    Of the 3 Black Stars I have owned, 2 have become faithful brooders (not the same batch or same hatchery, so it wasn't the particular strain).

    There are things you can do to encourage a bird who has broodiness in her genes...leaving eggs in a nest is a good beginning.

    The next thing is to create a brooding box that is secluded and dark. I read what appeared to be a reliable article that putting a broody type into a brooding box with eggs that was warm and dark could encourage her to want to brood. So I tried it with success with my very broody type Silkie.

    It is best if she is secluded and isolated in the box with food and water at hand (make sure the feeders can't tip over and get stuff wet.)

    The size of the clutch of eggs is really important as the number must be sufficient to trigger the spot on her breastbone that encourages hormone release. Temperature is also important, she must be warm to also encourage hormone release. Also have nice bedding material in the box. I like to use timothy hay or very soft straw over a layer of pine shavings. The pine shavings dampen anything that hits beyond the hay, the hay is something the bird wants to nest in.

    Again, you can't create a brood in a bird who simply doesn't have the genetic make up, but those who do have enough of the broody type genes, you can encourage those hormones to release. If any of the birds show some sincere interest in sitting on the eggs, move her to the broody box with the fake clutch and let her set for a couple of days. Then put in your fertile eggs.

    If you don't get a broody type with your hens now, purchase a known brooder. That's what I did. I found a chicken swap through BYC swap list that was local. I purchased my Silkie after advertising on my local swap that I wanted a bird that was a proven mother. She has already hatched 2 different clutches for me. I also lucked out that several of my pullets grew into brooders too...RIR/Welsummer mixes....I suspicion some of the mutt types may get back those broody genes too.

    Good Luck,
    Lady of McCamley
  9. Jayzandra

    Jayzandra Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thank you!! That is very helpful!

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