Hatching Eggs + First Time Broody Hen = ???

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by TinyFlock17, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. TinyFlock17

    TinyFlock17 In the Brooder

    31
    35
    44
    Mar 22, 2018
    New to posting but have been following the forum for a while, so much wisdom here! We have 14 hens in our flock (all about 9 months old), no rooster. One of our Buff Orpintons has gone quite broody this spring, faithfully (heartbreakingly!) setting on a few eggs 24/7 for more than a week. So we decided to buy 6 hatching eggs as we'd love to grow our flock by a few different breeds and they will arrive tomorrow (!!)... so now I'm trying to glean all the words of wisdom I can before I make a mistake!
    Our plan is to put a hardware cloth front on the box she has chosen, so the other hens cannot disturb her, letting her out several times a day until day 18 - there isn't another way to separate our hen house and I worry that in moving her she might quit being broody!
    - How best to introduce the hatching eggs to her?
    - Treats for her and how to offer water to her in the box?
    - How often to let her out and how to encourage her to eat/drink/poop?
    - Best nesting material (or should I just leave the hay that's already in there)?
    - Other ways to prepare?
    - Everything else I need to know but don't know to ask?
    Links are GREAT if this has already been discussed at length somewhere on the forum or elsewhere! I've searched and read and these are the questions I still have.
    Thanks in advance!
     
    m1chelle1 likes this.
  2. Jetblack2004

    Jetblack2004 Free Ranging

    2,027
    7,951
    502
    Feb 22, 2016
    South East England
    My Coop
    Hi there and congratulations on your broody hen!

    - How best to introduce the hatching eggs to her? Just quietly slip the eggs under her and she should take to them.
    - Treats for her and how to offer water to her in the box? Normal food and small scraps are good for her. If possible, leave a pot of water next to the box so that she can drink when she pleases.
    - How often to let her out and how to encourage her to eat/drink/poop? Most broodies will eat, drink and poop fine on their own! I'm not sure about how often to let her out as she may just want to stay on her nest most of the time. Another member may have some advice =)
    - Best nesting material (or should I just leave the hay that's already in there)? Hay is the best. Make sure there's plenty of it so the eggs are safe and she is comfortable.
    - Other ways to prepare?
    - Everything else I need to know but don't know to ask?
    Sounds like you've covered pretty much everything!

    I don't know of any articles on this topic at the moment.

    Good luck!! :D :jumpy
     
  3. chuckachucka

    chuckachucka Crowing

    1,289
    1,795
    267
    Mar 22, 2016
    Most broodies leave the nest once a day only. If you remove her to poop outside the nest box she should start getting into a routine of waiting for you each day, but you might find that she gets up on her own at a separate time and leave you a very smelly deposit in there! They like to eat and drink away from the nest so keep food and water in the run or outside for her when she leaves the nest.

    Where is she on the pecking order? I have found that less dominant hens can get very skittish when they are broody and this might prevent her from feeling free to eat and drink as much as she likes when off the nest. Usuaally they will be off the nest for up to half an hour, depending on your weather temps, so if she doesn't return in that time it's best to get her and put her back in the nest. Always put her next to the eggs not on top of them. She will get back into position herself. Also the beat way to remove a hen from an nest of eggs is to scoop underneath with one arm and lift her up and off. Be careful of any eggs that might be tucked under her wings that will drop out when she is lifted.
     
  4. chuckachucka

    chuckachucka Crowing

    1,289
    1,795
    267
    Mar 22, 2016
    I have more advice! I've had issues with hens not keeping their eggs under them properly. The hay nesting material should be fine bit make sure it is clean before adding the eggs. Most hens will spend all day perfcting their nest shape around them, but if your hen doesn't do this, help her by gathering the hay around her when she is sitting so the eggs can't escape. Check the eggs are in place five minutes after you return her to the nest each day.

    The problem you will have with removing her for daily breaks yourself is she will get used to it and not get up if you leave her there from day 18. The eggs will very likely not hatch until day 21 under a broody (starting day 20) so there is actually not reason not to move her on day eighteen and nineteen. I've had broodies who sat too long at the end who couldn't hold their poop in anymore and and it was messy (*shudders*). So if you are going to move her once a day, continue to do so until day 20 unless you see or hear anything happening with the eggs. it helps to have a quick check of them every time you move her off the nest.
     
    TinyFlock17 likes this.
  5. chuckachucka

    chuckachucka Crowing

    1,289
    1,795
    267
    Mar 22, 2016
    As for the eggs, I would candle them on arrival and if any have completely detached air cells (floating around in there), I would discard them. Others might say different, but I have NEVER had a detached air cell egg hatch under a broody. There is a small chance in a Bator because you can keep the egg upright but flat under a broody they just don't develop. Any with saddle air cells should be ok. Gently wipe off any large poop stains if there are any (there shouldn't be).

    Sorry for the information overload, but I have done the broody thing more times than I can count! With mostly success but some heartbreaks.
     
  6. TinyFlock17

    TinyFlock17 In the Brooder

    31
    35
    44
    Mar 22, 2018
    She is in between - the small amount of time she's off the nest lately she has been fluffed up and sort of maintaining a low growl while she pecks around... hoping she's not too low in the pecking order? Thank you SO much for all the wonderful advice - if you think of anything else to add, I'm all ears!
     
  7. TinyFlock17

    TinyFlock17 In the Brooder

    31
    35
    44
    Mar 22, 2018
    I will! Do you recommend having them set 12-24 hours before putting them under her?
     
    chuckachucka likes this.
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    13,453
    21,957
    922
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    - How best to introduce the hatching eggs to her?
    Mark the eggs if other hens will have access to the nest, and then just slip them under her. Marking the eggs is helpful if she will be setting where other hens have access to her nest. That way you can check once a day for "donations" and remove them.
    - Treats for her and how to offer water to her in the box?
    She needs to get out of the box to eat and drink. If she's fed and watered in the box, she will poop on the eggs and that could kill them.
    - How often to let her out and how to encourage her to eat/drink/poop?
    Instead of locking her in the box and "letting her out" several times a day, I would suggest just letting her come and go as she pleases. Broodies generally only get off the nest once a day or so.
    - Best nesting material (or should I just leave the hay that's already in there)?
    I would leave the hay there. The more you fuss with her, the better the chances of breaking her broodiness. Broodies like to be left alone.
    - Other ways to prepare?
    If she's in the favorite nest box, you could try to move her - at night - to a corner of the coop, or a different box. If not, I'd leave her.
    - Everything else I need to know but don't know to ask?
    When are the eggs coming? If she's already been on the nest for over a week, she might give up on them when she reaches somewhere around the 3 week mark. Chickens can't count, but sometimes those hormones ebb and flow. I have had broodies that insist on being in the nest no matter how often I take them off, and then quit on their own at about 3 weeks. You might want to have an incubator available just in case.

    Chickens have been hatching and raising chicks for centuries without human "help". Sometimes our helping is more of a hindrance. I am more of a hands-off chicken keeper, but I figure my hens' instinct is much stronger than my knowledge of how to be a chicken, so I let my broodies be.
     
  9. chuckachucka

    chuckachucka Crowing

    1,289
    1,795
    267
    Mar 22, 2016
    If you candle the eggs and the air cells look great, there's no need to wait. Bring them to room temperature if they feel very cold then give them to her. I have never had a broody reject eggs. If the cells look uneven, leave them up to 24 hours before setting them.
     
    TinyFlock17 likes this.
  10. m1chelle1

    m1chelle1 Songster

    351
    840
    202
    Jan 12, 2017
    The Great PNW
    Amen:old
     
    WhatAboutBob? likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: