Found nest -- now what?


In the Brooder
Aug 30, 2016
I just found a nest in a bush in our yard. There's a chicken sitting on maybe 6 eggs. I have no idea how long they've been there. Thing is, we put them all in the coops at night so these eggs aren't being sat on from dark until about 10 am the next day as far as I know. They could have just been there a day or two? What do I do? I'd love to let them hatch, but I don't know what to do next. I am afraid they are probably already bad :( Thanks in advance!
Could you candle them and see if you see any development?
If so, you could move the eggs and the setting momma to a secure place.
Candle days are 1, 7, 14 & 18th day
You will need a Candler, bright light, LED flashlight or build your own Candler. Find Instructions HERE.
Turn on your Candler and shut off the lights in the room so it is dark, evenings are best. Hold the flashlight/Candler like the image below and set the egg air cell/fat end down on your hand. This will prevent any light leakage from the flashlight. Your hand protects the egg from the hard surface of the light and helps more of the light to go through the egg.

Here is a long thread with some very good info..

Some of it is for incubating eggs but the bit I copied and posted above is in that thread too.

Let me see if I can find a mother article for you.
If she is going into the coop at night, she is not fully broody. Are you sure she wasn't just on the nest to lay an egg? First thing I'd do is determine if she is really broody or not. My test to see if a hen is truly broody and deserves eggs is that she has to sit on the nest two consecutive nights instead of sleeping in her normal place.

Why do you think those eggs are already bad? If a hen is sitting on them all day and abandoning them at night the embryo inside them could be dead, but the eggs are probably not rotten. But if she is only on them a part of the day they are probably fine. Hens will hide a nest, lay an egg a day until they get a dozen or more, then incubate them for three weeks without them going bad. Turkeys and ducks go even longer.

If there are six eggs in the nest either more than one hen has been laying in that nest or she has been laying in there for more than a couple of days.

If you determine she really is broody, you have some options. You could just leave her be where she is with those eggs. You could collect all the eggs you want her to hatch, mark them, and replace those eggs to be sure they are fresh. Many broodies hide nests and hatch eggs, but of course predators are a possible issue. Not all hens that hide nests get eaten or their nests destroyed, most don't, but it can happen. I mark mine with a black sharpie.

Another option is to try to move her to a secure place. You'll need a nest and enough room inside a pen for food, water, and just a little more space. The pen needs to be predator proof or in a predator proof area. It needs to be enclosed so the hen cannot get out and other chickens cannot get inside. A broody hen knows to not poop on her eggs but she doesn't know to not poop in her food or water, you may be doing some cleaning. And make sure it is not in the sun where the nest can become an oven. If your coop is big enough inside the coop is usually a great location.

I think it helps a hen accept this move better if you can lock her in the nest only. Move her at night after it is dark and she has settled down on her nest. Lock her in that nest all the next day. Don't let her out until a bit before dark. A broody hen is used to spending that much time on her nest, it is not being cruel. She will probably want to go back to her old nest, you have to prevent that. The risk is that she will not accept the move and break from being broody. If you do it the way I said your odds are pretty good but when dealing with living animals I can't give you any guarantees.

If you wish you can move those eggs in with her, or you can collect a fresh set of eggs and have her start over. I trust you have a rooster so the eggs are fertile.

From what you said I'm not sure she really is broody but you are looking at her, I'm not. Good luck!

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