Help! Surprise Chicks, some Unhatched! A New Update...I have babies!


11 Years
Feb 26, 2008
I posted this last night on the Raising Baby Chicks board, but I probably should have posted it over here. I haven't hatched chicks from a hen since I was a kid. I'll post an update after the quote:

Ds came running in a few minutes ago and asked me to come outside quick, there was a new chick. I'm thinking one of my new hatchery chicks has somehow escaped the brooder and the barn, but thats not the case. It turns out my neighbors game rooster has been visiting my poop spreading hens. She made a nest under the side of the barn. I'm really concerned about my bird eating barn cat and my rat/mole hunting small dogs getting them. They don't harm grown chickens, but chicks, I'm sure would be another matter all together. I've tried to block off the area where the chicken is and put a cage against it in hopes she and the chicks will run into that. I've put some feed and water in there.

I'm worried the dogs, or cat will still find a way in there with all the chirping. I saw two chicks. I reached my hand in and when she lifted up in an attempt to kill me I saw quite a few unhatched eggs. If I suit up real good and drag her and her nest out, secure it in a safe place, will she go back to sitting, or will all the unhatched eggs die? Should I try to take the chicks that are hatched out and put them in a brooder? I have to go somewhere in an hour and won't be able to watch this all evening, so something has to be done soon. this is actually ds's game hen, given to him by a friend, and I would hate for him to lose his surprise little chicks.

Update: Last night I blocked off exits and put a cage up to the only exit left. I put food and water in it. This morning she and the chicks still haven't come out. Do you think I should try to pull her out now? I'm worried the longer she stays there the less chance she has. I did secure the animals last night, but I have had to let the little dogs out and I just can't keep this barn cat in my house....thats insanity I tell ya!
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Honestly, it's likely to upset her so much that she won't sit the eggs. Plus, it's critical that she stay on them right now (she probably won't leave them anyways), because the eggs need the humidity and heat her body will give them in order to hatch. You could actually close off all access to them without harming her or the chicks and then move them later this evening when you return home. They should all be hatched or almost hatched by then.
I meant to originally say that everything in the quote happened last night around 5:00, so its been quite some time since we found the chicks. How long will it take all the eggs that are going to hatch, to hatch?
Generally they will pip on day 20 and by day 22 will all have hatched. However, sometimes it takes another day or two for some that might have been slow developing. Were there a lot of eggs left unhatched when last you looked? Since you do have cats and dogs, were you going to brood them yourself? If so, you could grab up the chicks that were already fluffed up and leave her with the eggs she had left. If you take them now and try to give them back later, there is a chance she will reject them.
I went out to see how things were going. I moved the cage, laid down and looked under there and saw lots and lots of fluffs. When I reached in to try and get her to lift up a smell hit that had me gagging. I thought I might should pull her out. I was worried she was sitting on rotten was terrible! This hen is so broody I had on a welder's jacket and welder's gloves just to reach in there. I could see her sitting until all eggs hatched.

I pull her out and find 10 babies, one had just hatched so we rushed her and the babies to the new nest, all the time trying not to throw up. We find two unhatched eggs, no pips and one....very....dead....rat! He must have been after her eggs, that was the smell! was awful. She went straight to sitting on the whole lot again, I put the eggs under her, but don't expect a hatch.

She is in a much safer place, no rats, no cats, no dogs and no ants!

Thanks for the help!
Oy. What a good mommie!!
I wish I could post pics, but I can't get my camera to work with the new Windows Vista.

We lost one baby in the move. She made her nest in the corner and it looks like one was squished. I finally this afternoon went out and lifted her off the nest. I was concerned the new babies were going to dehydrate. The two unhatched eggs were still under her and she would not get off of the nest. She was determined they were going to hatch. I used a pitchfork and gently lifted her, with the babies tucked in her wings off the nest. I then used a shovel to pick up the two eggs and removed them. I took them out and opened them. It looks as if the chicks stopped developing just a few days short of hatch. They didn't absorb the yolk, but were fully formed. I think when the hatching started, there wasn't enough room and these got cold.

All together the final count showed a clutch of 17. We had two unhatched, one died, and fourteen healthy chicks. With the eggs removed she is now walking around the coop and I've seen them all eat starter and drink from the waterer!

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