Hen getting confused on which nest is hers!

moonpie

In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 22, 2009
16
0
22
North Carolina
I don't know if this falls under a true emergency or not, but it kinda is for us. My little black bantam hen has 2x been sitting a nest of random eggs, some hers, some americaunas and some barred rock. She was on the first nest for about 4 days, I was getting so excited! Then the next morning, we got up to find her on the wrong nest. I think she is getting up to go eat, and either another chicken is on her nest or some other hens have laid eggs in a nest beside hers and she gets confused. So I thought well we'll just have to keep a close eye, and hurry and collect the eggs as soon as the other hens lay them. So we thought probably the other eggs wouldn't hatch because it has been soo cold here, and we weren't sure how long she'd been off etc. So we went ahead and let her stay on the new nest with the fresh eggs in them, now there somehow are 4 americauna eggs under her, one of hers and a couple barred rock and maybe a black copper maran..so today she's out there eating, we're aware that she's off the nest. An hour or so later, I send hubby out to check and he comes back and says she's in the nest beside hers, with 2 new eggs under her! What am I to do??? We got her back on the right nest, but low and behold.. there's a new egg in there, and we don't know which is old, which is new??? She's a small bantam hen, and I think she's got either 6 or 7 regular sized eggs under her.. and one of her own.. is that too many? Any suggestions as to how and keep her on the right nest would be helpful. And about how long can they be off of the nest before it messes up the eggs? What would you guys do? Thanks so much for taking time to read my post!

Tanya
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mypicklebird

Songster
11 Years
Aug 8, 2008
1,234
15
151
Sonoma Co, CA
You need to make her a broody coop with, meaning separate her from the rest of the hens so she can brood in peace and quiet. This will solve all of the problems at once and some you haven't discovered yet. First of all- MARK all eggs you want to hatch. Broody coop contains: One nest for her to come back to, no new eggs get added, no other hens to harass her or kill the chicks when they are pipping and hatching, and chicks can eat chick food and the other hens can't....
Move her at night to her new area, and make sure she can't see her old nest & coop- and see if she will stick with some eggs you don't care about or some golf balls. If she continues to brood- then give her some eggs you want her to hatch. A broody coop can be as simple as a big dog crate...
For the eggs that are mixed up and partially brooded- I would suggest borrowing an incubator if you want to try to save them. At 1-4 days of incubation they are very fragile- and need consistent heat. Longer on, they can go several hours and not be harmed- but in the first few days they are very sensitive.

I wouldn't let her brood eggs until you have a safe area for her to complete the task....
 

moonpie

In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 22, 2009
16
0
22
North Carolina
She has been on these eggs for 6 days. We have been very watchful of her, and the only time she has gotten mixed up this time was just a couple hours ago, and she was off the nest for around an hour while she was eating. We caught her on the wrong nest immediately and placed her back. I think these eggs are still ok.. well with the exception of the add on.. but I don't think that can hurt really unless there are too many. Have any idea how many regular sized eggs a bantam hen can brood? I don't have a secondary coop. Are you saying I should put her in (I do have a very large unused rabbit hutch thats off the ground) a separate cage with a new nest and that will solve my problems? I guess since she's brooding she doesn't need the room to wander around. I didn't think about that. This is my first time with a broody hen. My first flock of hens that belong to me as well. I am so excited, and I hate to give up 6 whole days! Thank you for your reply.
 

PandoraTaylor

RT Poultry n Things
10 Years
Jun 29, 2009
2,091
4
169
Alaska
another thing you might try is use a pencil & mark on the eggs you are allowing her to set, then if there are any in the nest with out that mark, you can pull the new ones out.
 

moonpie

In the Brooder
10 Years
Apr 22, 2009
16
0
22
North Carolina
Okay, so I've gone outside and cleaned out the rabbit cage, which is about 3ft from top to bottom about 4ft from front to back and about 8ft long. Hopefully that will be large enough for her purpose. I don't have separate nesting boxes, they're all connected in groups of 10. So the next thing I had was a milk crate, but I thought that wouldn't be private enough. So I found a 5 gallon bucket with a lid, I cut aprox. 3/4 of the lid out with a little lip at the bottom then placed it back on the bucket. I then put hay in the bucket and surrounded it with hay as well. I turned around to go and get a little more hay, and one of my barred rock hens jumped up in there and decided that SHE likes the bucket/nesting box, and made herself right at home in there in the literally 25 seconds I was gone lol. So maybe it will make due. I will place water and food in there and tonight I will move her and her eggs after dark to her new box. I hope it all turns out well. I candled her little banty egg and I can see what I think is an eyeball and some veins in there. Do you think this is a sufficient little broody coop? Thanks again so much for all the input!

Tanya:D
 

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