I didn't think my Hens were laying... then I found a VERY LARGE nest in the woods...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by tessj, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. So we went to Maine for a month and I left my 19 year old in charge of the flock (first mistake) while I was gone. He did take good care but he didn't watch where my free range hens were laying obviously. As of when I left they hadn't started laying yet.
    Today I followed my Rhode Island Red to a spot I saw her go to yesterday as well. She has been nesting on top of 12 eggs!!!! She's been broody and yelling loudly in her coup before I let her out and now I know why!
    We had a rooster until yesterday - he attacked my son and caused damage. It was sad, he was a great protector. But he was a danger to us. He's been re-homed to a flock where he won't have children to scare.
    So these eggs are most likely fertile because he was BUSY with Red before he went. I want the chicks.
    My question is- do I leave them and let her do the job? She doesn't sit all day so I can go get them. Or do I take them and put a couple in the egg boxes and put the rest in the incubator? I have no idea how long they have been there but since there are 12 I would guess 12 days since the first one. And I have no idea where the other 3 are laying...
    It'll be a day of watching my hens!
    Any advice would be great!

  2. By the way we are in Eastern PA and until today it's been an average of 85 degrees with a low of 70 at night.
  3. mortie

    mortie Songster

    Feb 16, 2014
    The Frozen Tundra
    If she isn't sitting on them all day and all night, she isn't broody. If you wanted to try to hatch them I would use an incubator. You may get a few to hatch even though they haven't been kept under ideal conditions for hatching. You never know, people have hatched fertile store bought eggs so it might be worth a try.

    The other problem is most people wouldn't try to hatch eggs from a hen til she was older. A pullets first eggs are often not ideal for hatching because of their size and because young birds sometimes have irregularities with their eggs.

    You could try it but I don't think you would get a lot of chicks.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    If she's coming back to the coop at night, she's not broody..... she's just laying out in the wherever.

    If you want to hatch some eggs you'd best put some fresh laid ones(she'll stay fertile for a couple weeks after the rooster leaves) in the incubator. Not sure the ones from that nest are the best candidates for hatching, but you could try them along with some fresher ones.


    You could set up a broody pen and keep her in there for a few days and see if she really wants to set.
    Unless they stay on the nest day and night for at least 3 days they are not broody enough to set.
    Not sure you'd want her setting out in the range area, she'd be terribly susceptible to predators.
  5. Thanks so much guys- that was the info I needed. I put them in an incubator. She's not on them day and night, its just a few minutes in the morning when she goes to lay. I was hoping its been warm enough that they'll be ok. There are actually 17 eggs so at least she's 2 weeks or more into laying so some of them are newer, those are the ones that will probably hatch maybe?

    Now as for the other 3 hens who are well above the age of laying, I'm wondering if they too have secret laying spots I just haven't found yet because they are well past maturity (I got them as chicks at the beginning of March) and they too have all been fertilized by the rooster.
    Or maybe now that the stressful rooster is gone they will lay.

    I did leave 3 eggs in the egg boxes to give her the hint that she should lay there and not in the wild!
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I'd keep them confined to the coop for a few days to 're-home' them to lay in the coop nests....ya gotta do that with free rangers once in a while.

    Hard to say how old of an egg will develop, only time and some candling around day 7-10 will tell the tale....I've read 7 days max, 14 days max, or more.

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