How to get eggs to hatch?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Apr 27, 2010
Greenville/Eastern NC
My hen, Fuzz the Buff Orpington, had decided it's time to set again. So I let her. She and one other hen have set in the past but with a horrible success rate. Clucky had 4 to hatch/semi-hatch, but only 1 lived past the getting out of the egg stage. Fuzz had 3 to totally hatch, one died and was really weak from the start, and several either partially hatched (broke out half of their shell) or nothing happened AT ALL.

I let them have too many eggs the first go 'round. So this time, I limited her eggs. She is setting on 8. I have written the date on the eggs so I'll know if another hen sneaks in and lays a new egg while Fuzz is stretching her legs. The eggs were all laid on October 12th.
My coop is outside but temps are mild.

So how do I help Fuzz hatch out her babies? Is it normal to have such a horrible sucess rate? I think I am averaging 1 living to maybe 4-5 dying. That whole "dying after breaking out half the shell" thing freaks me out. Any advice, suggestions, words of wisdom?
Anything I should NOT be doing? Like helping the little guys break out of their eggs? Should I leave them alone and let nature take it's course? Cause did that last 2 times and got really sucky results.

So long story short, how do I help Fuzz hatch out the most of her eggs and keep the babies alive for the first few days?
Thanks, Lori
First, leave them alone until she brings them off the nest.

Second, do not help!

Third, give Mama a chance to take care of things the way chickens have for thousands of years.

Now that I got that off chest, it is almost always best to not interfere. By interfering you upset the hen. She moves around and can stomp on them. She cannot control the heat and humidity the way she needs to. Hens have been hatching chicks for thousands of years without help. Occasionally you will get a hen that does not have the right instincts, but it is really surprising how many actually have the right instincts. This comes from somebody that had a first time broody take the chicks off the nest too early, which shows bad instincts. I still leave them alone.

Hatching takes a long time. They pip. Then they usually rest a long time. 12 hours is not unusual. Then they zip. Sometimes this is one continuous activity and they soon push out, but sometimes this takes a long time too. You think they are in trouble but they are just resting, or maybe absorbing the yolk. And some hatch a lot earlier than others.

I tried hatching the tiny pullet eggs once and had terrible survival rates. I don't know if you did that the first time around, but I just don't think there are enough nutrients in the small eggs for the chick to have enough strength to survive the rigors of the hatch very well. The ones that made it past 24 hours are active and healthy but many did not make it that long. I had a pretty good hatch rate with them, just a lousy survival rate after hatch.

After Mama takes them off the nest, your set-up helps determine what to do next. If she has room and access to food and water, she can probably take care of them. I usually put them in a separate enclosure for a day or two with food and water so they can get their feet under them, then let them loose with the rest of the free ranging flock.

Some people may think that other hens are killing the chicks since you are letting her hatch with the flock. That can happen, especially with another broody or an exceptionally mean hen, but your description sounds like it is not happening in your case. I really think your interfering is doing a lot more harm than good unless there is something you are not telling us.

Good luck on this hatch.
My only thought would be the health of your flock to start with, if you have a weak hen then they will pass that to the egg. I don't see where the poster said anything about interferring so I am assuming it is something else. Personally I don't allow my hens to hatch with the flock but I have some that would harm the chicks so that is why. I would look to the general health of my laying hens.

Good luck.
Oh BLESS YOU! I have not been interferring, per say. But I am dying of curiosity and have to keep checking to see if we have little miracles when the time gets closer. I get SO excited. I think that motherhood, though instinctual, is also learned. So she might have a better time of it this go round. She is precious though. Her blood red comb and waddle have turned a rosy pink and she has that "pregnancy glow" that human women get.

I do have a "time out" coop that I can put her and the itty-bitties in. That's no problem at all. This time, I am not disturbing her at all (after dating her eggs). I keep a bowl of water near her nest and some food close by so she does not have to leave her eggs unless she wants to. The other hens would not dare kill one of her peeps because she gets all crazy if they even come near her little zone. But seperating them might be a good way to reduce stress on Mom. Especially since my other little "time out" coop was my original chicken coop and Fuzz goes in there whenever she wants to get away from the others and have quiet time. The two coups share a pen and the pens can be closed off from each other. Seperating the birds but allowing them to get used to seeing each other.

So, I'm not helping. I'm not stressing her or moving her around to see if anything is hatching. I'm not interfering in any way. I promise to let nature and Fuzz do their thing, stay out of the way, and hope for lots of healthy peeps.

Thank you so much for being blunt and honest and telling me what I needed to hear. I do dearly love my birdies and want what is best for them. So muchas, MUCHAS gracias for your advice.
And hopefully around November 2nd, I'll have some brand new peeps to ooo, and ahhh over.
I just hate the waiting!

thanks again!
(aka Fuzz's human)
Thanks Sooner! I might just go ahead and seperate Fuzz, nest and all, so she can have some peace and quiet. I do have one hen, Slash, that all of a sudden hates everyone and pecks at them. She especially picked on Fuzz before she started settin'. Might be a good idea indeed to go ahead and get Fuzz settled in her own private room. That will ensure that Slash does not mess with Mama Bird. Plus, it will be easier to keep clean and sanitary with just the one chicken in it.

My other hens seem to be sturdy and healthy. Fuzz is the only one that ever gets sick, actually. But honestly, I think she has allergies. Seems crazy that a chicken could have allergies, but hey, it could happen.

Thanks for your advice! I really appreciate it and will follow it.
Fingers crossed!

Ohh it must be awful to put them under and have to wait the whole 21 days lol i am candling daily i know tut tut but just want to make sure that they are doing ok too. i just do one egg not the lot lol

I have had a broody hen from auction i am not sure what i am to do with her i didnt realise as she wasnt kicking up a fuss till i picked her box up to bring her home. I have her in a cat carrier as the moment hoping she didnt like the moving and settles tomorrow but if she is broody it would be lovely if she could take over the dutys but i havent a clue how to do it lol think i feel a thread coming on.

she obviously didnt have any eggs will be interested to see if she lays any tomorrow.

Why dont you install a little wireless webcam in there they run on batteries and send info to your wireless internet if you have it at home they will set you back around £30 uk money. would that be $45 then you can watch the progress just move that food a little further away so you get nest shots off her off them.

I guess its the last 3 days where you just want to see if they made it or not. its so easy in the bator to know when to step in and help

I wont know a thing this is my first time.

GOOD luck with your hatch my 2nd batch is due 3rd nov so well be mommys together lol mine are silkies.
Oh, I do dearly love my silkies! My male was just murdered by the neighbor's cat Sunday. Little evil spawns of Satan....anyway, I have got to get them a man. Because silkie babies would be the greatest thing EVER!

I wonder if you tuck an egg or two under your broody hen what she would do. Then see if you could sneak a baby chick in a little later. Fuzz, my nesting mom, is probably sitting on eggs from 6 hens plus her own. The last little baby she half way raised was actually the offspring of Salem, my Black Cochin.
Fuzz didn't care. And Clucky's one little baby, he was my Red Sex Link (Rah-Rah's) chick. She didn't care. That was HER baby and dare ye to touch him!

Chickens are crazy creatures and do all sorts of things I never though they would do. The only way you will know if they will sit on some random eggs you stick under them or if they will raise another's newborn chick as their own is to try. I did purchase 2 little chicks from the local Farm Supply store so little Dash would not have to grown up an only child and Fuzz was having NONE OF THAT. I guess they smelled funny. Could not fool her. She pecked at them. So I had to raise them myself.

But it truly is easier to let the hens do all the chick-rearing while you sit back and watch.
And I LOVE the tiny camera idea. Especially if I could watch the feed on the internet while I was at work. Hey, they have "nanny cams". Why shouldn't I have a "Bitty Cam"?

Let me know if you try to experiment with your broody hen and random eggs. Would love to know the results.

thanks, Lori
Oh, and we sure will be Mommy's together. Fuzz is due to start hatching the day before yours.
I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. And I am a grown woman who has done this twice before. It just NEVER gets old!
i just been to look she isnt interested in the shop eggs they were possibly a little cold and a little large. i know broodys lay a batch of eggs is it 13 then they sit lol maybe there isnt enough in there lolol so i will mass invade her nest with eggs tomorrow i have some small class 3 battery hen eggs lolol ill throw them in upto 12 and hope she lays one extra lolol im going to sit them in hot water first too lol i so want her to be a mommy to my babies . ive got 11 days to try what i can lol

my other hen a blue araucana is great with young birds when they are 8wks + but my partridge wyandotte has 3 clingons already and between the 4 of them they act like vultures and bully anything. my new light sussex is pure breed cost me £5.50 added her after dark tonight soo heres hoping that works out in the morning.

yeh the cameras are called ip wireless webcam they connect to your wireless network. and you can stream them to anywhere anyone online. the cheap hongkong imports will do the job but some of the others are very good but double the money. i have a simple webcam and a very long usb ext wire i am going to use lol as my sister wants too see it all too so i will record it all for her or try streaming it. we are sharing the batches. im incubating she is putting into her warm lit shed after few weeks.

we are selling any cockerels we will be closing our eyes when they take them home for dinner! i thought the black skin would put them off but noo 2 large silkie cockerels my friend took are going to be curry tonight he said!! errrr
It just freaks me out to think of someone eating a chicken I have hand raised. They are my BABIES for heaven's sake! So I post ads in the "classifieds" for the local university employees and the folks at the hospital where I work. I specify that I am looking for a GOOD home and make them swear they will never put him in a pot. I'm sure it sounds pretty high and mighty for me to demand such things but it has worked so far. Even made a pretty good friends with Roo's new Mommy and she sends me pics of him now and then. I've been lucky so far.

I tried to move Fuzz, nest and all so I would not stress her, and she freaked out and stomped right back to the big coop, hopped on her shelf where ner nest had been sitting and screamed and hollered until Fender, our Black Roo, came over to see what all the fuss was over. Totally the opposite affect I was going for so I put some fresh bedding in the nest, put the eggs and Mama back on her shelf.

So much for giving her some peace and quiet. So I'll leave her alone for a while. But it seems everyday when I get home, another egg is broken. I just hate that.

Well, off to work I go. Have a good day

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