How do you put fertile eggs in place of infertile ones under a broody hen?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Kadra, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. Kadra

    Kadra Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 23, 2013
    West Linn, OR
    Hello, I just joined BYC but have found lots of answers to my "chicken questions" here since we got our first day-old-chicks in April. I've been letting our free-ranging Buff Orpington, Lucinda, lay a clutch of her unfertilized eggs she had hidden in our fuchsia plants in hopes that she would get broody and want to hatch some babies. Well, she got broody (yay!). Now for the next step. There are about 20 eggs under her. We want to buy a dozen fertile eggs and then "swap them out"- any advice on how to do this- while she's sleeping, right? Will she notice the reduction in the number of eggs- should we do it gradually? She's pretty smart- we found their first clutch of 17 eggs (she has 4 sisters) in the lemon verbena, and after we took some of the eggs they stopped laying there completely. Anyway, any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!
     
  2. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 21, 2012
    South West France
    A broody chicken should leave the nest at least once a day in order to eat, drink, poop (and often dust bathe too). You can take advantage of this time to swap the eggs over. I left my broody with two plastic eggs under her, but she would steal the eggs the other girls laid in the adjacent nestbox! I removed them every time I found them - she never seemed to mind that she'd lost the extras, as long as she still had a couple to sit on. She also happily accepted the five day-old chicks that I placed under her after 3 weeks, even though she'd only been brooding two eggs. Conclusion - chickens can't count! Or if they can, it goes something like " one, many, lots..."

    You can even just reach underneath her and swap the eggs (you may get pecked once or twice at first, but not so hard that it hurts, you just need to try not to jump when it happens the first time!)

    Important note - my broody never seemed to want to leave the nest, so I made certain that I took her off at least twice a day, carried her up the garden and placed her in front of the food and water bowls (mine are well away from the coop, as the girls free range). Each time she spent the first minute or two trying to build a nest around her with whatever she found on the ground, then decided to eat and drink, did a massive stinking poop, gave an incredibly loud squawk, ran around the garden like a mad thing, then went back to the nest! It's really important to make sure she eats and drinks - a friend of mine had a broody that died because she was so intent on sitting on the nest that she didn't look after herself.
     
  3. Kadra

    Kadra Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 23, 2013
    West Linn, OR
    Thank you for the tips! I didn't think to swap the eggs when she "takes a break". I've only seen her "take a break" once- loud squawking, bolting for the coop, scarfing down food and then back to the nest. We bring scraps to her nest occasionally, too.
     

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