Hens that want to hatch eggs in the winter...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by djstrickland, Dec 27, 2012.

  1. djstrickland

    djstrickland New Egg

    Dec 4, 2012
    So... today I go out to feed the chickens and noticed that one of my free range game hens has disappeared... After a while, I discover that she is setting at least 8-10 eggs in a pile of leafs in the corner of the barn. So I got to thinking, it has been in the high 20's and low 30's at night where I'm at, and I need to know what the chances of getting some chicks from her.

    As most of you know, it is recommended to keep your hatching eggs somewhere around the 55 degree mark prior to incubating them and that you should never put the eggs into the refrigerator. I was wondering if there is any way that the eggs could be hatched after being subjected to well below the 55 degree mark???

    Any help would be great!
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    If the eggs have not actually become frozen, there is a strong possibility that they will hatch. If the nest is in a sheltered area the ambient temperature was probably somewhat higher.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    It seems lots of the "rules of incubating" go right out the window when you talk about broody hens! They never read the darn books, do they?

    I say let her hatch and see what happens. I've had birds hatch in late fall or early spring, not as extreme temps but they weren't hidden nests, they were eggs I collected. I know some of them I left outside while waiting to have enough to put under then hen, but I don't remember how cold it got.

    I'd be interested in a follow up post in a month or so!
  4. Pele

    Pele Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 25, 2011
    Cold temperatures don't affect the eggs as badly as one would expect, actually. As long as the eggs didn't freeze through, they've got a pretty good chance.

    I personally have recently picked up a bit of a hobby out of hatching eggs from our local organic grocery store, and they sure keep the eggs refrigerated. The viability is surprisingly high! (current batch is set at 8 out of 11 ready to hatch).
  5. djstrickland

    djstrickland New Egg

    Dec 4, 2012
    Well... now I have a new concern. After sitting on her dozen eggs for a few days, she has stopped??? I haven't pried her off the nest, no dogs or other animals have forced her off as far as I know, and the eggs haven't been disturbed. Yesterday I noticed that she was off her nest for an extended period of time; maybe 30-40 min. but she did go back to it for several hours. Typically, she spends no more than 10 minutes getting water and a few bugs then back to the nest. But, I went out to do my evening feeding tonight and noticed that she was back on her normal roost pole. I was just wondering what causes this type of behavior???

    Just a background on this particular hen and her nest:
    1) She has set many eggs in her time so she knows what it takes
    2) She is not too old to be broody (2-3 years)
    3) The nest is in a dry, somewhat dim lit corner of the barn and is draft free

    Any ideas on what may be happening???

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