How do you stagger a hatch under a broody hen?

chicklets81

Chirping
Mar 10, 2017
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My black astrolorp has gone broody, yippee! She is sitting on 4 eggs that may, or may not be fertile. I have a bantam cochin roo, who mates with some, but not all. I can candle the eggs in a few days to determine.

I'd like to find some rhode island red and buff orpington eggs, to put under her. But I wont have the eggs for another week. How do people manage a staggered hatch under a broody hen when the eggs are due to hatch a week apart?
 

chicklets81

Chirping
Mar 10, 2017
148
31
69
So how exactly do people time putting other eggs under their broody hen if they are using someone else's eggs? The hen always has at least an egg of two of their own.
 

Bunnylady

POOF Goes the Pooka
11 Years
Nov 27, 2009
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Wilmington, NC
How determined a broody is this gal? If she's one of those do-or-die broodies, it may not be hard at all.

Disclaimer: I am not a chicken whisperer, nor do I play one on TV. I do not encourage anyone to emulate my blunderings, I am merely relating some of my experiences.

One time, I had several free-ranging Bantam Cochin and Cochin crosses that were laying eggs in the corners of a horse stall. First one, and then another went broody on me. IME, Bantam Cochins run neck-and-neck with Silkies for the title of uber broody. I'd park the hen and her eggs in a separate cage, and next thing I knew, another hen had taken up setting. Eventually, I had 5 or 6 hens stolidly brooding. I didn't really want to raise more cross-breds, but this looked to me like a good opportunity, so I made arrangements to get eggs shipped to me from a couple of different sources at different times. Ditching partly incubated eggs may sound a bit heartless, but anyway . . . .

Delays, delays, delays. We were approaching the hatch date on a lot of the eggs the girls were on, and the ones I had ordered still hadn't come. I even tried pulling eggs out and letting them cool for a day to see if I could kill the embryos - nope!

When I saw a pip on one egg, I pulled the whole clutch and put them in my incubator, and put some infertile eggs under the hen in a desperate attempt to keep her sitting . . . .

Finally, the eggs I had ordered all came - on the same day! The shippers had even sent a few extras, so I had, like, 40+ eggs (some Large fowl varieties) to put under those small hens. Some of those girls had already been setting for about 5 weeks. I distributed the eggs among their nests and crossed my fingers (and looked in astonishment at the brooder full of mixed-breed chicks!)

I candled the eggs the girls were sitting on at intervals, and tossed the quitters, and those hens came through like the troopers they were. Most of the eggs hatched.

A lot of people don't like double-clutching, and as I said, I don't encourage it, but if a hen takes good care of herself while brooding (and these did) you can extend her brooding period a bit without putting her seriously at risk. You need a way to keep track of which eggs are which, and have a place to move the eggs to so they can finish incubating/hatching. Most hens will leave the nest when their chicks are a day or so old, so either the first set of eggs must be removed as they get close to hatch, or the later set must be moved to an incubator to finish when the first set hatches. Either way, you will probably wind up with at least one set of chicks that you have to raise in a brooder; a week makes such a big difference, things probably wouldn't work out well if you expected the hen to raise them all after hatching.
 
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