hen is not sitting on eggs in nest during the day - help

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by suzied, Feb 21, 2016.

  1. suzied

    suzied New Egg

    Feb 21, 2016
    Maui, Hawaii
    Hi, we live in Hawaii and 3 hens and 1 rooster have moved in to our yard. 10 eggs hatched about 20 days ago and I just noticed there are 8 new eggs in their nest in the corner of the yard. The eggs are abandoned during the day and at night the hen and her chicks sit on the eggs over night. Could this hen have laid more eggs? Or was it most likely one of the other hens? Will the eggs hatch if left alone during the day for about 9 hours? Thank you for your help.
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator

    I'd say its unlikely that its the current mother hen, since 8 eggs would mean that she resumed laying just less than two weeks after hatching.

    I'll let experts chime in regarding viability of the eggs as temporary sitting (on a night time by the mother hen) may affect things, i honestly don't know.

  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop

    I doubt the eggs will hatch unless set on 23/7x21...yes, 23 hours a day.
    Broody hens do get up to eat/drink/poop/bathe for an hour or so a day.

    Wonders if some of the eggs were laid while the mama incubated the eggs?
    Or other birds are laying there now that mama has taken the chicks on walkabout.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    CT, I have had a hen start to lay 2-1/2 weeks after she hatched. She was the only green egg layer I had so there was no doubt about which one was laying. That hen weaned her chicks at 3 weeks. I’ve only had one other hen ever wean her chicks that early. When she first started laying again I saw the chicks running around upset and confused. I thought a fox had gotten the hen but no, she was on the nest laying. The chicks didn’t know what to do. I’ve never noticed another hen start laying before she weaned her chicks, but the shell color wouldn’t hit me between the eyes like that green egg did.

    So it’s possible that hen has started laying again, but I really doubt it. Being broody takes a lot out of them, they have to build their body back up after not eating or drinking much while incubating the eggs. The hormones that make them want to incubate eggs and take care of the chicks should stop them from laying. Taking care of the chicks should be a full time job. Most hens wait until after they have weaned the chicks to start preparing their body for that. But that green egg laying hen I had just proves that with living animals practically anything is possible.

    It’s surprising to me that the hen takes her chicks back to the nest they hatched in at night. Mine don’t do that. When the chicks hatch they leave shells and stuff behind that smells after a few days. The hen’s instincts should be to take them somewhere else to spend the night so the smell doesn’t attract predators. Suzied, I assume you cleaned that nest up so maybe she took that into account. Again, living animals……

    I think it is almost certain that the eggs are coming from a different hen or maybe hens. I don’t know where that nest is or what your set-up looks like but it must be a nice nest location.

    No, don’t expect those eggs to hatch. I know Hawaii is a tropical paradise but it’s not that warm. In warm weather a hen may spend over an hour off the eggs during her daily constitutional, it takes the middle of the eggs a while to cool off in warm weather. But nine hours is too much. The important temperature during incubation is the average incubation temperature. If that average is too low then the eggs are so slow to develop they just don’t make it. That’s assuming they don’t cool off enough to die during the day to start with.

    There’s another thing. With the hen and chicks sleeping in the nest, they have to be pooping a lot. That’s just what chickens do. Those eggs should be a poopy mess. That gives bacteria an avenue to get by the barrier (called bloom) that a hen puts on the eggs to help stop bacteria from getting in. If they haven’t already I’d expect those eggs to start giving off that rotten egg smell with stuff either seeping through the porous egg shell or one actually exploding.

    If it were me and I wanted to use the eggs those hens are laying, I’d build a small enclosure and lock that hen and her chicks in there. You should be able to do that at night after they have settled down for the night, but don’t use too much light. You’ll probably grab the hen first and if there is much light the chicks might scatter. They should give a plaintive peep calling for their mother after a while so you should be able to track them down, but it may be a challenge if they can see well. Leave them locked in there for a couple of days with food and water, then let them go. She should take them back there at night instead of going to that old nest.

    Another option is to just wait. At 3 weeks it probably won’t be that long before she starts taking them to roost at night. I’ve had hens do that at two weeks but five weeks is more average.

    Good luck.
  5. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Very interesting Ridgerunner, i did say unlikely but its good to know that almost anything seems possible in the world of chickens! [​IMG]


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