Help! Unsure age of incubating eggs...


In the Brooder
May 11, 2015
Kemp, TX
I have 4 hens and a rooster. All my hens are laying daily. For the first time, one of my hens went broody! We are so excited! I have another hen I want chicks from, so daily as she laid her eggs I would sneek it into the broody hens nest. I expect that since my broody hen started sitting about April 22nd, her chicks should start hatching around the 13th of May. Here is my delema...
When my hen leaves her nest I have another who jumped in and broke an egg. She ate it! I expect this is because they need more calcium so I bought more feed. I was so worried for the eggs I placed in the nest myself, I got an incubator to make sure those eggs made it to hatching. My problem is that I don't know the age of my eggs or when I need to stop my egg turner and increase humidity. I don't want to be the reason these chicks don't survive. What do I do? How can I tell when to increase humidity? Should I just place those eggs back with my hen? Will that shock them and kill them anyway? Please help!
Last edited:
Your attempting a staggered hatch. Those are tricky unless you have a second incubator to hatch in and mark your eggs to know when to move each one to the hatcher which would not have turner and be higher humidity.

If your determined on these eggs then I'd dry hatch them. Don't add any water at all to ensure your air cells get large enough as you'll be upping humidity early for most of the eggs. It's around day 14 when you actually don't need to turn eggs anymore. You should candle often and when the first of the eggs looks developed to day 18 take them all out of the turner and up the humidity to 60-65%. By candling you'll also know the least incubated eggs and can mark them in order. Quickly hand turn them a few times a day. You can't put the new eggs with the broody as she's only going to stay on the nest a few days after some hatch, she'll throw the rest on floor and not keep broody for eggs that are not wiggling.

For future goes at it it's best to take the eggs your broody is sitting on everyday and eat them. Save up the eggs you want to hatch by placing inside on counter fat end up in egg carton then mark them and place under broody all at once. We want to mark them as the broody will steal other eggs and other chickens will want to lay in her clutch so you can remove them daily and still eat them.
Next time write the date on the eggs with a pencil. A hatch that is too staggered could cause problems. The hen may give up on the eggs that haven't hatched when she is ready to take the first chicks out. I would give the eggs back to the broody. Accidents happen. I dropped and cracked one from the batch that is in my bator right now. Now that you have a bator you can collect eggs from the hen at any point. If this is your first time incubating you will not want to be guessing. It will only lead to heartbreak.
If don't want to put them all back then at least candle them and compare to pictures of development so you have some idea. If the eggs are too far apart in development then separate some under the hen and some in the bator. If they are close in development, then I would still put back under the hen and start with a fresh batch in the bator.
Is there a way to know when an egg is at 18 days? Then I could remove them at that point into another incubator without a turner and up the humidity. I would guess that the oldest egg is 17 days and I have 8 of them.

When I got home from work and checked on mama and there was a dead chick in her nest. I have seen the other hens come in when she leaves and peck at an egg. Should I worry about the other hens or does this occasionally happen. Sorry for all the questions. I just want to be the best chicken nana I can be.

Ok, I just candled all these eggs and is it normal for them to have such a range? There are some that may be ready to hatch in days and others that seem to be behind. I don't want to mess with my broody hens eggs. I'm sure she knows what she is doing, but should I give her my oldest eggs on exchange for her youngest so they all hatch at the same time? And if they hatch do I remove them? She had them in my feed barrel, so the chicks cannot get out if they tried.
Last edited:
It's normal for the eggs to be at different stages of development if they began incubation on different days. You will need two incubators if the eggs look more than a couple days apart. Perhaps you should put the ones that look like they are going to hatch soon with the broody. My last batch with a broody was slightly staggered, but only by about 3 or 4 days. I didn't collect the fresh eggs from my non-broodies for a couple of days and when I saw veins I just couldn't toss them. I don't separate my broodie hens from the rest of the flock, but a lot of people do. Some flock mates will kill chicks. Unfortunately there really isn't anyway to tell what happened to your chick unless it had obvious trauma. The first chick that hatched from my last batch died, but I will still continue to let my hens brood I the coop. If your worried about aggressiveness and don't want to remove the broody from the coop you could put a small dog kennel in there just big enough for the nest and chick sized food/water dishes. Or you could easily make a small broody coop with a dog house/crate.
I have a hen that was sitting and she still laid 3 or 4 more eggs so I got all the eggs that didn't hatch and put them in the incubator they have been hatching one every other day sometimes if there is more then one hen the others may still lay eggs in the nest had that happen before to
Last edited:

We have a chick today! I will post a picture of where she laid her eggs and suggestions for how I am supposed to make sure these chicks can get to food and water, as she had laid them in the bottom of our feed barrel. I am afraid to relocate her, I would rather take the chicks as they hatch, or will that upset her?
Last edited:
My question is probably a simple one that I should know so sorry for asking but if I'm incubating eggs do i count day 1 as the day it was layed by the hen or is day 1 the day I put it in the incubator?
My question is probably a simple one that I should know so sorry for asking but if I'm incubating eggs do i count day 1 as the day it was layed by the hen or is day 1 the day I put it in the incubator?

Development only starts once the incubation process is started - so you count from the day you "set" the egg (whether in an incubator or putting it under a broody hen).

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom