How long can a hen leaver her eggs for?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by SunshineMollyR, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. SunshineMollyR

    SunshineMollyR Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 21, 2016
    Hi

    My broody hen has been on her eggs for about 19 days. Last night I moved her with the eggs to a side compartment of the coup. She settled well. When I came home from work today I found that she had left her eggs and was back in the original coup sitting on an egg from another hen. I think she must have fitted through the gap of the compartments and not been able to get back. I am in the UK, it has been a pretty cold day. I removed her new egg and replaced it with the old eggs, two looked quite brown. What is the chance they will hatch and how long should I leave her on them? I feel really awful that I moved her despite it being in (what I thought) her best interests.

    Any advice on what I should do next?

    Big thanks

    x
     
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC. If the eggs were fertile and developing to start with, I think that they will still hatch. They may be delayed by a day or two. Good luck.
     
  3. SunshineMollyR

    SunshineMollyR Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you. Glad I put the eggs back under her. Fingers crossed.
     
  4. ChickenGrass

    ChickenGrass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They should be ok
    I live in Ireland, I breed and show my hens
    Would you know how long she had left them for?
    A couple of hours should be ok
    It has happened me befour
    And most chicks were ok.
    Goodluck
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What you didn't take into account is that the hen is programmed to return to her nest. She has been returning there for the past 19 days. She won't suddenly re orientate to the new location.... it's a bit like when you move house or change job and suddenly catch yourself on autopilot, heading to the previous place, except the hen didn't choose to move and probably has no recollection of being moved.
    If you are going to move a broody in the future, lock her in and only let her out when you are there to supervise and guide her back. There was a similar post on here a few weeks ago and although the lady didn't give a final update, she was on day 23 and it wasn't looking good. That said, the weather has been a bit warmer here in the UK than it was then, so hopefully you will have better luck. As someone else said, it really depends how long she had been off and how many there are in her clutch. The bigger the clutch the more likely that the ones in the centre will still make it.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "two look quite brown"? They won't suddenly change colour just because they got cold. I would have a sniff of the discoloured ones and see if they smell rotten. You don't want them exploding. Did you candle them earlier in the incubation or have you just left her to it? Just out of curiosity what breed are they?

    Good luck. Keeping fingers crossed for you

    Regards

    Barbara
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. SunshineMollyR

    SunshineMollyR Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the advice, I will remember that in the future, It all made total sense. I thought I was doing the right thing! When you say sniff the eggs, would you be able to smell the egg was rotten without cracking it open.
    Also do hens share eggs - I have marked the eggs but have found them under other hens at times - my little one always seems to get them back though.

    How long is a sensible time to leave them before discarding them? Also if she is still broody would it hurt her starting again on some more new eggs. I have 11 girls in all and one handsome, happy rooster. The other girls are still laying - should I substitute some fresh eggs if nothing has happened by Easter.

    Appreciate the time you have taken to reply.
     
  7. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi,

    I move my hen onto a nest of eggs of my choosing in an old cupboard in the hen house as soon as she goes broody to prevent other hens disturbing her and laying in her nest. Broodies spend miost of their time in a trance like state and having a dark quiet place is preferable. Also the eggs are at risk of getting broken if other hens are clambering over her to lay in her nest. I have holes drilled in the cupboard door so a little light gets in and food and water in there for her. Once a day I open the door to let her out. The additional light when the door is opened her out of her trance and stimulates her to come out and relieve herself, have a bite to eat and a dust bath whilst I can keep an eye on her and make sure she returns to the correct nest. I do hen house chores in the 15 mins or so that she is out. Once she finds the right nest and clambers back in I close the door and know that she is safe. Initially, for the first few days, she will go back to the nest she had chosen herself and I have to lift her back into the cupboard, but once she imprints with the new location it works fine. Having that nest full of eggs and all the other nest boxes empty helps to ensure she picks the correct nest. When the chicks hatch I usually keep her in for a couple of days and then she gets to come out with them and mingle with the flock.

    I suppose it depend on how sensitive your nose is as regards smelling a rotten egg through the shell. I can, but there is nothing worse than chucking an egg thinking it's a gonner and being wrong, so if in doubt leave it. They are unlikely to be any more than a couple of days late in hatching, but if there is no sign of life after that ie no pipping or chirping then it is worth doing a float test in a jug of warm water before you give up altogether.
    Personally I wouldn't ask her to set another nest of eggs at this stage if you don't get any chicks from this clutch, as being broody takes a lot out of them physically and it could be detrimental to her health. It is early in the year and there is a reasonable chance that she will go broody again later in the spring/summer, particularly if she is a breed that is known for broodiness. My broodies don't normally go into hatching mode until June and they still raise two clutches in the season, so I'm quite jealous that you have a broody this early.

    Hoping for you and particularly your broody's sake that she gets a result, even if it's just one or two chicks that hatch. How many eggs is she on and were they all set at the same time? And what breed is she and what is she called???.... I need to have a name and visual image when I'm rooting for her! [​IMG]
     
  8. SunshineMollyR

    SunshineMollyR Out Of The Brooder

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    She is a Malaysian Serama and named Ezmay Kim. Although little, she is quite feisty and has been very protective of her five eggs. Due to the different size and colour of the eggs I know they have been laid by others - over a period of three or four days. Red one of my silkies tries to rob her of her eggs and has been caught with one or two under her but Ezmay always gets them back. She continually collects other freshly laid eggs but as we marked the original five they are easy to identify and take them away.



    Thank you for your advice and for rooting for her, really appreciate that. It would be wonderful to have some Easter Chicks. Fingers crossed and thank you

    x
     
  9. SunshineMollyR

    SunshineMollyR Out Of The Brooder

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    Horrah, we are proud to announce we have a grandchick! Out of the five eggs, 3 were not viable after the float test, 2 were - still waiting on the other to hatch but our newly hatched chick looks adorable. We have named her/him April. Meanwhile mummy hen robbed three fresh eggs (I presume to replace the ones that were ditched) so what do we do now? Do we take the new eggs away or leave them be. Can she look after the chick whilst also sitting on her new eggs? Should we put them under Red our other broody hen?

    Thank you everybody x
     
  10. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi again and congratulations on the chick. Fingers crossed the other one hatches today

    No she can't incubate eggs whilst looking after a hatched chick. She will either abandon the new eggs or neglect the chick, so definitely remove them.
    The way it's supposed to happen is that a hen lays a clutch of eggs in a nest one day at a time and then she goes broody and stops laying and starts incubating them. That way, all the eggs start to develop at the same time and they all hatch within a day or two at the most, of each other. The chicks can live off the absorbed egg yolk for 48hrs before they need to eat but the hen then has to leave the nest with them and start teaching the chicks how to feed and drink and dust bath and everything else they need to learn. Unfortunately in an enclosed run and coop, there are limited options for nests and other hens will almost certainly lay into her nest either whilst she is off having a leg stretch and relieving herself or even climb in there with her and lay an egg. This is why it's important to wait until a hen is obviously broody and then mark the eggs you want her to hatch and give them to her. Then any extra eggs can be easily recognised when you check the nest and removed each day and eaten as normal. Allowing other eggs to be added to the nest willy nilly is just a waste and even poses a risk to the eggs that were originally set. Broody hens that free range often make a sneaky nest in a dark quiet place somewhere that the other hens don't know about so that they only incubate their own eggs.

    If you have another broody hen you could take out the new eggs assuming you can identify them, mark them and give them to her but if they have already been incubating for a few days, you would be well advised not to give her any others and remove any new eggs that get laid into her nest.

    I assume you have chick crumb available for the chick to eat. It will not do any harm for the mother hen to also eat chick crumb, but you don't want the chick trying to eat layers pellets at this early age as it doesn't contain enough protein and too much calcium and the pellets are too large although you will see the broody hen breaking them down for them with her beak if they do have access.

    Fingers crossed the other egg hatches soon, so that you have two grandchicks!
    .
     

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