Hen sitting on eggs...is THIS normal?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Hangin Wit My Peeps, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Hangin Wit My Peeps AutumnBreezeChickens.com

    6,396
    10
    263
    Apr 20, 2008
    Birnamwood, Wisconsin
    Ok I know some of you may say go do a search but I did that and looked and looked and keep finding eggs hatching from an incubator and nothing much on hens hatching eggs out (plus I work full time and have three kids, and only get a short time on the computer and I don't want to waste that time searching). So with that I need to ask an important question. My hen is not getting out of the nest box (she is sitting on 8+ eggs) and I'm wondering if it's ok to take her off the eggs and put her down by the water? I feed her right in the nest box but water is a bit harder to manage. She is my best laying hen and I would sure hate to lose her from my stupidity. I have never done this before so I just need to know if she will be ok? OR, IF I do take her down will she go back on the eggs?
    I have read that with adding new eggs (some of my hens SIT on her and lay eggs on top of her and she adopts them) that the hen will move the new ones to the warmest spot to keep them warmer and the older ones to the cooler spots to even everything out and they all seem to hatch around the same time. That to me is just amazing! I went in wanting to see if that were true and she DID put the newest eggs up under her wings. I lifted up a wing and an egg fell out [​IMG] Sometimes nature just amazes me! SO ANYWAY, anyone who can give me advice I would So appreciate it! I'm just so nervous because I put some of my good eggs under her and I really want them to hatch.
    Also, my plan is to keep her IN with the hens as she hatches out these chicks...is this a bad idea and does anyone have experience with this? How did it go?

    OH and another question...I hear hens don't poo much when they are sitting on eggs? Is this true?
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  2. Kelpie

    Kelpie Chillin' With My Peeps

    194
    0
    119
    May 20, 2008
    Charles Town, WV
    Here is a good thread on the topic of making broody hens eat and drink. I'd think if they aren't eating much, they aren't pooping much either. I wouldn't let her adopt any eggs at different stages of development. When the first ones hatch they will spread bacteria to the newer ones and she may think since she's got chicks now she doesn't need the ones still cooking and abandon them. Or on the other hand she could hold steadfast to her newer eggs instead of focusing on rearing the chicks.

    ETA- I hadn't heard about the hen controlling temps to make them hatch at the same time, that IS interesting. Makes sense I guess since temp is linked to the chick's metabolism.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  3. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    6,967
    22
    291
    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    Can you move her and her nest into a safe secluded space? Such as a partitioned off area within the coop? Make a circle out of chicken wire or some other material and put it over her in a corner with food and water and leave her be. Let nature take it's course. Be sure the other hens can't get in there with her. Now mark your calendar. [​IMG]
     
  4. Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Hangin Wit My Peeps AutumnBreezeChickens.com

    6,396
    10
    263
    Apr 20, 2008
    Birnamwood, Wisconsin
    No there is no way of moving the nest boxes. There are six built as one unit screwed to the wall [​IMG] Now it is possible to give her a 'new' nest box and try and move her and the eggs to the floor into a corner of the hen house BUT if the chicks would be ok in with the hens I would prefer to do that. Has anyone else allowed chicks to be hatched with the big hens? Here is a picture of the hen house so you have a better idea of what I'm dealing with.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,836
    28
    191
    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Quote:She most likely is getting out of the nest daily, and you just aren't seeing it. Most broody hens will get out of the nest once or twice a day, charge around like lunatics growling at everything that gets near, eat, drink, and poop. Then they go back to the eggs. If there's no poop in the nest, she's getting out.

    It's not a good idea to feed her in the nest. If she ate and drank in the nest, she'd maybe poop in it too, not good for her, not good for the eggs. Imagine a nest of eggs with 21 days worth of big, smelly, broody poops in it. And she needs to get up and move around everyday.

    Quote:That would be amazing if it worked. It doesn't. The eggs hatch in 21 days. If eggs are a little too warm, they may hatch a day early, but then the chicks often have problems like splayed legs or something. and often won't survive. Eggs that have been a little cooler may hatch a day late, but not usually. The eggs in the nest need to all be the same age. Otherwise, when they start hatching, about 24 hours after the first wave of hatching eggs, mom takes the babies and leaves the nest. Other eggs that aren't ready to hatch yet will get cold and die.

    It's best to mark the eggs (and write the date you set them under the hen, or the date they're due to hatch) and remove any new eggs that are added to the nest.

    Quote:Most hens will protect the chicks from other chickens, and so usually it's ok. Once in a while, there's a problem. I like to separate my new moms and their chicks from the rest of the flock for a few days, but sometimes I can't. Most of the time they do just fine, either way. You didn't say if your birds are free-range or confined. Mine free range, so separating mom and baby groups makes sense for me, as it allows me to keep them penned for a few days, until I'm sure all the chicks are ok, they're familiar with mom's commands, etc., before I let them out to range with everybody else.

    Quote:Yes. Just when they get off the nest to eat and drink, normally only once or twice a day, so they have huge, smelly poos saved up.

    How high up is the nest she's in? If it's more than a couple of feet up, can you put a big pile of hay or straw or something underneath to pad the landing for the chicks? Are the sides/front of the box low enough that the chicks will be able to get out, with mom? You may need to take the nest down from it's current location, when the eggs hatch. You could probably wait 24 hours after you see that eggs are hatching, then during the daytime take mom and chicks out of the nest. make sure there's a nice nest area on the floor they can use at night. Mine often just pick a dark corner, to hunker down into with the babies.

    Good luck, I hope your mom and chicks do well!
     
  6. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    4,654
    30
    251
    Jun 15, 2008
    I don't think that looks like the best setup... How high is that? What happens when they hatch and wander out of the nest... *splat* Unless you plan to stand there watching for them so you can move them before they get active enough I see disaster coming. I don't know if you could move the hen though without the nest box and still have her stay broody. She may decide it's not the same thing and want to go back to her nest.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    20,517
    3,916
    506
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You have a lot of questions here. I'll try to catch some of them.

    Eggs take 21 days to hatch, period. Moving them to warm or cold spots does not change 21 days. The only ones that will hatch are the ones under her when she started. The best thing to do is to mark the eggs that are under her, a magic marker works fine, so you can tell which are part of her clutch. Remove any others that show up daily. They will be good to eat if you collect them daily. They will not hatch, however. They won't get the 21 days.

    When a hen is broody, that means she is trying to hatch eggs, she usually leaves the nest one time a day to eat, drink and go poo. That means when she does go poo, it is a big really stinky mess. This is normal and nothing to worry about. She is not sick. She has just been holding it a long time.

    You do not need to give her food and water in her nest. She will leave the nest at least once a day to eat and drink. She can eat and drink where the others do.

    If you take her off the nest she will almost certainly go back on. First I'll tell the story then I'll explain a little.

    When I was growing up on the farm many years ago, my job was to collect the eggs. If we had a broody hen with eggs, I'd grab her and throw her out the coop door so I could check her nest for any freshly laid eggs, which I took for us to use. The hen always went back on the nest. She would hiss, fluff up, and peck as I was taking her off. And it would hurt but I had to do it. I didn't think to wear leather gloves.

    Some hens have lost the broody instint or it is very weak. We've bred it out of them. Taking her off the nest may break her from being broody, but if it does, the instinct was not strong enough for her to successfully hatch the eggs anyway, so you have not really lost anything by taking her off the nest to check for fresh eggs.

    One last thing. Many people separate a broody from the rest of the flock so the other hens cannot lay eggs in the nest. They have their reasons, such as eggs could get broken as other hens are climbing on or off the nest. I would not recommend that for you as she might quit being broody. After I submit this, I'll look up a link to a great web site that gives you a lot of info on broody hens and make another post. You can read that at your leasure. Like with three kids you have leasure.

    I'll post again in a few minutes, when I find that link.
     
  8. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,836
    28
    191
    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Ok, now I see the pic, I see you can't move the box. You might fix up a different nest for her, move the eggs, move her, and see if she'll accept that. Some will, some won't. It is better if you can set up a nice little maternity ward for her, but if you can't, just remove the new eggs out every day.
     
  9. Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Hangin Wit My Peeps AutumnBreezeChickens.com

    6,396
    10
    263
    Apr 20, 2008
    Birnamwood, Wisconsin
    I does look higher up then it really is. It's only 18 inches off the floor. And yes, I could get a few hay bails and set them next to it. As for the hen moving the eggs around to account for the newer eggs...I seen that on some discovery channel special on chickens...thought it was amazing. They say it's been tested and is in fact true. Who knows...but it sure does sound realistic knowing what hens already do for their young. It's all instinct. I did mark the eggs now and have been taking the new ones out. The newer ones that were added are not more then two to three days apart. Is it ok to lift her off to make sure there are no other new eggs added daily? Or will she get sick of that and leave the nest? If she does I do have a bator ready just in case. Although I'm getting bantam cochins in the mail very soon so I'm hoping all goes well if I have to mix a hatch.
     
  10. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    6,967
    22
    291
    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    Quote:I have moved the nesting material(sorry I wasn't more specific), eggs and mom to their own corner in the room. She hatched the chicks, they were confined within this type of pen we made for her with food and water. The other chickens could see and hear them. After a week or so I lifted the bottom of the wire so mama could take her chicks out and she did take them out but brought them back into their little pen each night. After a couple weeks more weeks they were turned loose of their pen. Mama hen will be very protective of her babies. Mine took her chicks outside free ranging with her and the rest of the flock. I will try to find a pic of the make-shift pen we made for them.
    [​IMG]
    this next pic seems to be the only one I can find of the entire little pen. It was made out of hardware cloth and had chicken wire over the top. I also use this to take new chicks (not hatched by hens) outside when warm enough.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by