Hen hatched chicks....questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by peeplessinNC, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. peeplessinNC

    peeplessinNC Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 23, 2008
    NC Piedmont
    As I've been reading about your eggs "piping and zipping" in your incubators I had a thought about Mother Nature's way of hatching chicks:

    as the chicks start to pip under the hen, does she move off the nest to give them room to start breaking out of the shell or does she stay on the nest to provide warmth/humidity to the rest of the eggs?

    Is there a chance a chick will actually smother under the hen?

    Does anyone know if a hen will actually help a chick zip out of the shell or does she leave them to do it alone?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The broody will usually raise up just a little to give the chicks some breathing room. She does not normally leave the nest at all once they start to pip.

    I have never known a hen to help a chick zip. You are dealing with living animals so I try to not say "never" about anything, but this is one I'd come pretty close.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:As the veteran of a grand total of one (1) broody hatch [​IMG], I would say, from that experience and from doing quite a lot of reading up from other people with lots more experience:

    the hen absolutely stays on the nest. Remember though that she is not mashed flat over the whole surface of the eggs, she has them mostly sort of around her body, between body and wing, and between/around her feet - so they do have some 'wiggle room' and airspace.

    she doesn't help the chicks, they do it alone, same as in an incubator.

    and it is certainly possible to lose a chick under a hen, and I would think that it *is* possible in some cases that she inadvertantly smothers them (accidents happen), but probably most chicks that die pipping die of other causes. I lost two chicks in that sort of way in Maudie's hatch - one pipped but died with its nose sticking out the hole, never zipped, and the other hatched ok but was dead a couple hrs later. The first one *might* have accidentally suffocated, but it was also a biggish chick and might simply have been too squished, or too tired, to be able to turn round the way it needed to zip out; with the second one, i think the primary problem was that it was 2 days younger than the other (live) chicks due to my not knowing enough to swap out all-same-aged eggs for the ones Maudie started setting, and it was probably either trampled accidentally by Maudie as she sought to take care of the frisky older chicks, or might even have been pecked to death by those older siblings, I'll never know.

    I think what I'm saying is, almost certainly yes it can happen, but I do not think it is a big risk, and certainly not the only possible cause of death (just like there are plenty of possible causes of death in an incubator)/

    Good luck, have fun,


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by