Hen is Getting Eggs from the Whole Flock--what to do?

DoozyWombat

Songster
I have a flock of six Dark Brahma hens, one Leghorn hen, and one Dark Brahma Rooster. They had just turned six months old, when one of the Brahmas went broody.

We didn't think she had more than about three eggs under there, and didn't want to disturb her, so we made sure she had water and food available, and waited to see whether she'd hatch anything.

Sunday was day 21, but no chicks and no sounds of peeping. She's still sitting on the nest, though, so we let her carry on a bit.

We've been puzzled by something else. The rest of the hens aren't laying as much. Maybe it's because the weather is getting colder.

This morning, I decided enough was enough. I lifted her off the nest, intending to destroy all the eggs on it. I figured if they hadn't hatched by now, they weren't going to. We didn't want to disturb her, so I hadn't candled them.

I had to laugh when I saw the nest she was sitting on 18 eggs! At least half of them were white, which means they came from the sole Leghorn.

She seems pretty healthy and is eating and drinking, so I let her get back on the nest. I realized the other hens must be climbing into the box with her and laying, and she was collecting the eggs to set on. Unfortunately, that would make the eggs all at different points in their development.

I figured she would start paying attention to chicks and leave the nest alone, but nothing is hatching.

So what should I do? At the moment, I'm planning to give her until Sunday (another three days.) At that point, she will have been sitting on the eggs for 28 days. If she has chicks, I'll give her another couple of days before shooing her off the nest and taking all the eggs. If not, I'll take them all and start taking them daily again.

If there's a better plan, please let me know.

As to the eggs, I'm assuming I need to chuck all of them, rather than try to see if any of them are still edible. I'm assuming that after being under a hen for even a couple of days, the eggs will have started development and not be good for eating anymore. Some of them probably are good to eat, as they were only laid today, but I can't tell which those are.

All help appreciated.
 

ackie

previously jwehl // dogs & cats & squirrels oh my!
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Personally this is when I fire up the incubator and throw in any that are still alive and just see what happens.

If you candle them you can tell if theres development. You can eat eggs with developed chicks in them, so it's just up to you what level of egg you feel comfortable eating, but it's not inedible unless the chick has died and bacteria has built up.

You can probably assume that her eggs arent going to hatch as she wouldnt be laying during this time span so I would pull those tonight at the minimum and candle them and see what's up. It's possible that her extra time spent off the nest gathering eggs could have slowed development?
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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If there's a better plan, please let me know.
Toss the eggs.
Break the broody.
Next time, manage it more closely.

We've been puzzled by something else. The rest of the hens aren't laying as much. Maybe it's because the weather is getting colder.
How old are your birds, in months?
It's not the temps, it's the shortening days that trigger molting and cessation of lay.
 

DoozyWombat

Songster
Toss the eggs.
Break the broody.
Next time, manage it more closely.

I'm not sure how I can manage it, if the other birds are squeezing into the box to lay in there. They have all laid in different places in the coop.

For now, I assume I can just take the bird off the nest and take all the eggs. With no eggs, I'm assuming she'll quit setting quickly. But the next time, I'm going to have the same issue with other eggs. The box is up off the floor, so I don't think she can get eggs up into the box. The other hens have to be laying in the box with her there, and she is collecting them.

I guess I could take a magic marker and mark the eggs she is setting on at the beginning, then take her off the nest every night and take all the unmarked eggs. Would that work?

And how long does an egg have to get to brooding temperature before it starts developing?
 

ariri30

Free Ranging
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May 18, 2015
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I'm not sure how I can manage it, if the other birds are squeezing into the box to lay in there. They have all laid in different places in the coop.

For now, I assume I can just take the bird off the nest and take all the eggs. With no eggs, I'm assuming she'll quit setting quickly. But the next time, I'm going to have the same issue with other eggs. The box is up off the floor, so I don't think she can get eggs up into the box. The other hens have to be laying in the box with her there, and she is collecting them.

I guess I could take a magic marker and mark the eggs she is setting on at the beginning, then take her off the nest every night and take all the unmarked eggs. Would that work?

And how long does an egg have to get to brooding temperature before it starts developing?
I have a bantam that’s going to hatch three eggs this weekend. I didn’t want any more chicks but she’s determined. I gave her three eggs and I marked those three eggs and check every day and take the ones that the other pullets lay in her nest. Marking the eggs and removing new ones daily works for me
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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I'm not sure how I can manage it, if the other birds are squeezing into the box to lay in there.
You either move the broody to a sectioned off part of the coop, where the flock can see her but not touch her, before you give her fertile eggs(mush easier in the long run IMO)....
...or mark the fertile eggs you want the broody to hatch, and remove any other eggs daily from the nest.
 

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