Hen setting-what happens when eggs hatch?

grandmachicken

Songster
11 Years
Sep 15, 2008
117
6
144
Williamson, GA
I have a 6 month old pullet setting on a variety of eggs, I think about six (she won't let me get near her!). This is my first time with natural hatching - so when the eggs start to hatch, what will the mama do? Will she get off the eggs, stay in the nest, wait and watch till they are all hatched? Maybe a stupid question, but I'm curious . . .
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,983
13,924
707
Southeast Louisiana
When they start to hatch, mama will raise up enough to give them room to hatch but stay low enough to keep them warm. She will talk to her chicks to keep them calm. After they have all hatched and they are ready, she will take them off the nest to eat and drink. The best thing you can do to help is to let mama do it.
 

dancingbear

Songster
11 Years
Aug 2, 2008
2,836
38
191
South Central KY
Usually, a hen will stay on the nest wit the chicks for about 24 hours, more or less, sometimes longer. If all the eggs were started together, (i.e., other hens didn't crowd in and lay more eggs after she started setting, or more eggs added after the first 24 hours) this usually gives them enough time for all the viable chicks to hatch. It also gives them time to get dry, and be alert and ready to be active. Then Mama gets off the nest, the chicks follow, and she starts teaching them to be chickens!

They're great fun to watch, and so cute. You'll love it. Have fun!

Don't be alarmed when a chick gets bowled over by accident when Mama is teaching them to scratch. It happens all the time, chicks are very rarely harmed by this.

ETA: Make sure you have shallow water and feed (chick starter, mom can eat the same thing as the chicks, it won't hurt her a bit) containers that the chicks can access. I use a quart jar with the red screw-on font, or 2 gallon galvanized waterer, either with marbles or pebbles in the tray so chicks can't get wedged in and drown. (They can and will do this) Poultry vitamin powder is available at most feed stores, it's a good thing to add to the water, I use 1 tsp. per gallon. You can also add a couple of TB. of apple cider vinegar per gallon to the water.
 
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grandmachicken

Songster
11 Years
Sep 15, 2008
117
6
144
Williamson, GA
Thanks for the quick answers! Y'all are so helpful. It is now day 7 since she started setting on her own egg. Over the next few days, the older hens all got in the next and laid more eggs for her. They stopped this after 3-4 days (I think). So I guess the eggs will hatch out over a 3-4 day period? Do you think mama (Millie) will be able to hatch them all? Or is it possible that she may abandon some if she thinks they have all hatched?

I can't wait, this is such fun. I go out and speak to her several times a day, but she just glares at me.
 

dancingbear

Songster
11 Years
Aug 2, 2008
2,836
38
191
South Central KY
Quote:In that case, there will most likely be several eggs anywhere from 1 to 3 days short of hatching, left to get cold and die. She has to get off the nest with the ones that hatch first, about 24-48 hours, so they can eat and drink. She can't stay on the nest waiting for the later eggs to hatch. If you have an incubator, and you're watching fairly close, you can possibly take whatever eggs are left in the nest, and finish them in the incubator. You could even try slipping the new chicks (once they're completely dry) in under her at night, after they hatch. She might accept them. Or might not.

Most of us mark the eggs were giving a hen to hatch, and remove any new ones that get added. I use a black Sharpie. I check under my broodies daily, both to remove new eggs and to check for breakage, and clean up the nest if there is any. Otherwise you can loose an entire clutch, from rotting broken eggs.
 

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