First Time Broody Stepped on Chicks?


May 11, 2020
South Mississippi
002 (my hens are numbered) is a first time broody of two years. She had seven eggs of the ten I placed under her make it to hatch day. First two started to hatch today, but when I checked they had died before finishing.

I removed the deceased chicks and carefully pulled away the shell, checking for signs of life. None. I noticed that their umbilicals either hadn't fully closed, or maybe were pushed back open. Both chicks had started zipping last I had checked (I try not to pester broody too much), so my thought is that she stepped on them in her inexperience? Photos attached of the chicks. The shells were crushed so the membrane was exposed, but not bleeding. These babies were good to hatch from what I can tell. I'm still very new to this.

Side note: how many eggs would you recommend setting under your broody? Is ten too many?


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I’m sorry that happened. I don’t know if it was a crush accident or not, I haven’t had that happen with my broodies. I usually put 8 or fewer eggs under my big buff Orpingtons, although I know people do put more than that.

A possible issue I just thought of is shrink wrapping. When I lived in a very dry climate I did have a chick get shrink wrapped, probably from me lifting the broody up to check on them. If it’s very dry there, you can use a water bottle to lightly spritz the eggs or mama’s belly if you really have to check on them. Otherwise you can just go hands-off and let nature take its course.
@Cinnamon Roll , forgot to mention all my birds Plymouth Rocks. My climate is super humid, so I don't think it could be a shrink wrap issue.

I try for very minimal intervention because I'm aiming for hardier birds. At least she didn't flip and murder two chicks like my last broody. I think the heat and attempting to move that one made her snap. Luckily, I saved the last chick. That was her second clutch and she hadn't done anything of the sort with her first. She's out of my flock if she does it again.

Good to know with egg numbers. I noticed of my three clutches (correct me if that's the wrong term), usually seven or so make it to hatch so I suspected ten was too many.
I need to find the source, but I think I read somewhere that Plymouth Rocks have a reputation for stepping on their hatching chicks? They're a bit clumsy at that stage? I'll rummage about and check on that.

I realize what happened to these two may not be something I can fix, but I like understanding why things go wrong to the best of my ability. Sometimes it's something that can be corrected, and sometimes it's just nature.
In addition to the buff orpingtons I also have a Partridge Plymouth Rock and she hasn’t had an incident like that with any of her hatches, but she was already an experienced mom when I got her. Maybe your hen will learn the way of things and not have this happen next time :fl
@Cinnamon Roll , mine are partridge, too! I love the color!

I'm keeping all my pullets in the hopes that being actually raised by a mother will help establish better mothering. I think having it as an established behavior will probably help.

I checked in and could see another pipping so maybe I'll get five chicks.

Another aside: how many years do you give a hen to go broody of that trait is important to you? My oldest hens are 2 years old and two of my six have not gone broody. I was thinking of give them to the end of this year. Although this might be a better topic for the genetics section.
Where did you get your partridge rocks? I only have one and she’s one of my favorite chickens.

I haven’t seen a hen go broody if she didn’t the first year, but I’ve heard people say it happens. I think having other broodies and chicks around kicks their hormones into broody mode so they should get the urge when everyone else is doing it. We’ve had so many broodies that we even had a broody leghorn this year. (She did a great job too!)
@Cinnamon Roll , I got mine from McMurray hatchery. I can't say if they're great representations of the breed, but they lay well and the two males I culled were pretty tasty. If you're anywhere near South Mississippi, I can sell you a couple.

She's hatched at least two more. One is doing well. The other she stepped on after it was up and moving. 😑 It had gooey sticky yolk coming out it's umbilical, so I know it was another victim of trampling.

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