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

DoozyWombat

Songster
What I do is wait for 24 hours after the first one hatches (because when the eggs are all set at the same time, usually all the eggs that are going to hatch will do so in that time), then move hen, chicks and any unhatched eggs to a nest on the floor. I never move a nest when the eggs are still in the process of hatching because I don’t want to bother the broody. The chicks stay pretty close to mama the first day or so anyway, and it won’t hurt them to wait a day or so for food and water.

In your case, it might be OK to move hen, chicks and eggs to the floor before then. There is a chance you may not get any chicks, or that the ones who hatch have developed poorly and will be unhealthy. When a hen has a large clutch, she can’t cover them all properly so some may never develop, some may develop with deformities, and some may develop without any problems. You just never know.
Yeah, I think I'll do that. I'll have to do it in the dark, though (work schedule). Good idea.
 

DoozyWombat

Songster
A dim flash light or headlight(so you have both hands free) will be less disturbing and they are more likely to stay on the roost than if you light up the whole coop.
How about a red light? I have a red setting on my LED headlamp. Will it bother them more if they can't see me at all, or do they see the red light?

Okay, just duckducked the answer. They don't see red LEDs at all, apparently, so that'll be my go-to.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
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How about a red light? I have a red setting on my LED headlamp. Will it bother them more if they can't see me at all, or do they see the red light?

Okay, just duckducked the answer. They don't see red LEDs at all, apparently, so that'll be my go-to.
Red light may be less distressing to them....I can't see very well with it tho.
Have had a headlight with a green setting too, have never used either
I like mine with 3 brightness settings, use the dimmest for general stuff but can crank it up for exams.

I don't think the color of the light matters much, key is keeping it dim and pointed up and/or away from any 'routes of escape'. The other key is getting them used to your presence, that helps everything, IMO.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
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I put a 2x2 across the front, about a half inch off the bottom of the box. It's only a 2-inch barrier with the gap, so I expect chicks will have little difficulty scrambling over it. I could put a second 2x2 1/2" above the first, if a 4-inch barrier would be better. I'm pretty sure the hens won't have any trouble getting into the box with that height. Think that would be better, or will it make it harder for the chicks to get out when the hen is ready to leave the nest with them?
I've seen a broody hen get her chicks out of a 10' high hay loft. She told them to jump and they did, then bounced up and ran to her. My hens consistently hatch in nests 3 to 4 feet above the coop floor. The lip on my nests is around 4" to 5", the chicks have never had a problem getting out of the nest and to the coop floor when Mama tells them to. I personally like a higher lip but as long as eggs and bedding are not being scratched out it doesn't really matter.

I had a problem one time. I let a hen hatch in a cat litter bucket set on a 45 degree angle about 4 feet above the coop floor. The top of that bucket was 7-1/2" x 11-1/2". When the first chicks hatch they sometimes climb up on Mama's back while waiting for the later chicks to hatch. When they slide off in my regular nests no big deal. But on this nest the hen was so close to the side of the nest that they would miss the nest and fall all the way to the coop floor. Four different times I had to pick a chick up off the coop floor and toss it back in the nest, probably the same chick most of the time. The chick was not hurt falling 4'. I retired that nest after the hatch was over. I haven't had a problem with the other nests but with living animals you never know, anything can happen.

Both in my incubator and under broody hens I've had some hatches totally over 16 hours after the first chick hatched. I've had some last into the third day. Before the chick hatches it should absorb the yolk. The chicks can live off of that absorbed yolk for quite a while, usually at least thee days. That's why they can be mailed. This allows the first chicks that hatch to wait on the late hatchers. Since the broody hen knows more about being a broody hen than I ever will, I let her decide when to bring the chicks off the nest. I've had some bring their chicks off the nest about 24 hours after the first one hatched. I had one that hatched her first chick late Monday and she did not bring her chicks off of the nest until early Friday morning, a little over three full days after the first one hatched. About 80 hours. One time in an incubator I had one chick hatch fairly late in the day. It was about 24 hours before another egg even pipped. When i woke up the next morning the remaining 16 had hatched. It's all too confusing to me so I just let the hen worry about it.

When my hens bring them off the nest they never go back, they are too high. They take their chicks to sleep on the coop floor at night. As low as your nest is she may try to go back. Even day old chicks can jump really well. I think it is a god idea to be down there at dark to see where she takes them and make sure they are all together.

I killed a chick one time by picking up a broody hen. Not a good feeling at all. The chicks sometimes crawl up under the hens feathers or wings. When I picked her up a chick was under her wing and I crushed it. I still pick up a broody hen when I need to but I don't do it without a reason and I am very careful when I do.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
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The hen finally abandoned the nest. Three eggs started hatching overall. None got very far, and all died. I finally took all the eggs and tossed them. As of last night, the hen was back on the roost with the flock.

I don't plan to let anyone try to hatch anything again before spring.

Thanks to all for your help!
Bummer.......glad she went back to the roost.
Good Call.
Hard but good lesson, you learned a lot!
 

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