Help with problem hen and unhatched eggs!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by marymc99, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. marymc99

    marymc99 New Egg

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    Oct 24, 2016
    I finally decided to let my broody hen sit on eggs out in the coop, two chicks hatched but our temperatures outside dropped drastically and I made the risky decision to move Mama, babies, and the rest of the eggs carefully inside under a lifted heat lamp. Now Mama is only sitting on her eggs half of the time and is more concerned about her two live chicks. I know for a fact that there are other viable eggs because she accidentally cracked one and it had at least another week to go. This has been my first time attempting to hatch chicks so please have mercy on me. Not sure whether or not an incubator this late in the game would even be an option, or if all hope is lost for the rest of the nest.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I’m not picking on you but I will try to be honest to help you out for the next time you try this.

    To answer your question, what time span are you talking about? How long ago did Mama stop trying the hatch the eggs and instead started taking care of her living chicks? When did they hatch, when did you move them, when did she stop sitting on the eggs? About how warm is it under the heat lamp?

    Once the eggs get to a certain stage they generate a lot of heat themselves. They don’t necessarily have to be kept that warm from an external source. So it is possible the eggs may still be viable and an incubator may work. It’s not a specific temperature or time but more of a range. How late in the incubation makes a difference too. If you have an incubator, put the eggs in it and let them warm up for about a full day. Then candle the eggs to see what you can see. You may not be able to see much, especially if they have dark or colored egg shells. My dark green ones are close to impossible. But candle them to see if you can tell anything. Then candle them again in another three days or so to see if you can see any change. You might get lucky and see movement, but even if they are still developing you might not see movement but maybe you can see change.

    Sniff the eggs each time you do this. If an egg starts to smell like a rotten egg get rid of it immediately, it’s not going to hatch and will only get worse. In this whole process you don’t know what is going on so try to be patient.

    Since you said one had a week to go, it looks like you had a staggered hatch. That’s where the eggs are not all started at the same time. It takes an egg somewhere around 21 days from the time incubation starts until the chick hatches. That 21 days is not exact, a chick can hatch a couple of days early or late, but if they are all started at the same time they should hatch within a couple of days of each other. Since the chicks absorb the yolk before they hatch they can live for three or more days without food or water while the late ones hatch.

    But if the eggs are not started at the same time the hen has a choice to make, does she take the first to hatch off the nest for food and water when they need it or does she stay on the nest to try to hatch the later ones and let the first die of thirst or starve. The unhatched chicks start chirping to Mama after internal pip so she knows more are on the way, but the first ones also start a certain chirp when they get thirsty or hungry. Most hens abandon the late hatchers to take care of the ones that made it.

    So next time save up all the eggs you want her to hatch and start them at the same time. Mark them so you know which ones belong and check under her daily to remove any that don’t belong.

    I don’t know what you mean by the temperature dropping drastically but broody hens have successfully hatched eggs and raised chicks even with the temperature below freezing a good part of the time. There are a few photos on here of a broody hen and her chicks out walking on snow. It is unlikely you needed to move the hen and eggs inside with a heat lamp with a normal hatch but with your staggered hatch it may have kept some of the eggs viable.

    I don’t know when to tell you to toss the eggs if they don’t hatch. You’re traveling places I’ve never been. I did have a hen stay off her nest long enough for the eggs to fell really cold to the touch fairly late in her incubation, she went back to the wrong nest. I put her back on the right nest and she still hatched 11 out of 11 eggs so just because they feel cold doesn’t mean they are dead. To be honest I don’t have a lot of hope for those unhatched eggs, but I don’t know enough details to be sure. The best you can do is just try.

    Good luck!
     
  3. marymc99

    marymc99 New Egg

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    Oct 24, 2016
    I found the two chicks underneath of her Saturday about 2 PM. The shells were still in the nest and both chicks still had their egg teeth so I assume they had been born sometime that morning?
    My mother was the one who was supposed to be monitoring the nest and taking away fresh eggs but she hadnt so I think you are right with the staggered hatching. I moved them all inside by 4pm. She was sitting on them most of Saturday, and most of Sunday but was getting too hot under the lamp and wanting to move off the nest so I lifted it up higher. The pen they are in has food and water within reaching distance of her nest so she doesn't have to frequently get up and walk around unless she wants to. Both chicks are eating and drinking independently and are doing quite well.
    I tried candeling some of the eggs but was afraid to handle them too much. Some eggs were completely dark on one side and clear on the other. One egg was completely dark except for the air sac at the end. Most of the eggs are darker shelled (most likely from my Red Sex Links or Australorps) but I have a couple creamy eggs that I can check again.
    It got down to 37° at night and I wasn't sure what the coldest it could be to have her hatch them without extra warmth so I panicked and brought them all inside. None of the eggs smell, she is still rotating them and hadn't kicked out completely out as of this morning.
    I don't have an incubator myself but could buy one if it was possible to salvage the eggs or just use it to begin with next time.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Have you tried to just remove the heat lamp completely and see what she does? I think you are right, the heat lamp is keeping them too warm.
     
  5. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    Broody hens are a big help over a incubator. If I were going to just hatch a few chicks along and along I would always use a broody hen---if I have them,. Broody hens DO NOT have to be a Problem---problems are usually caused by the human owner instead of the hen----example I set over 70 broody hen in a little over a year---I had no problems, 99.9% of all fertile eggs hatched---when the eggs start to hatch, they usually hatched with in 24hrs from start to finish. I would suggest you talking with a experienced broody setting person to get better knowledge on How to do it so your next broody set goes some-what trouble free.
     

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