I need clarification on how hens set their own eggs....

PunkinPeep

Songster
10 Years
Mar 31, 2009
3,642
69
229
SouthEast Texas
For the first time, i think i have a broody pullet/hen. I'll watch her a little while before i let her keep her eggs, but i have questions.

We really want to encourage our hens to brood their own babies, hatch their own eggs, etc.

But then i think about the 21 day incubation period, and i don't understand exactly.

If i leave her alone, and she's broody, and she stays in the box, she'll continue to lay eggs, right?

And she'll be sitting on them the whole time, right?

So if she lays one egg each day, and i don't take them away from her, will they all hatch one day apart? I think i'm confused. Please enlighten me.

Thanks.
 

Cats Critters

Completely Indecisive
13 Years
Oct 15, 2007
5,672
103
376
Clarion County, PA
My Coop
My Coop
If i leave her alone, and she's broody, and she stays in the box, she'll continue to lay eggs, right?

She will stay in the box if she is broody but she will stop laying. Which is why some breeds had broodyness breed out of them broody=no eggs.​
 

Southernbelle

Gone Broody
12 Years
Mar 17, 2008
5,905
21
274
Virginia
Cat's Critters is right, when they go broody, they stop laying eggs and won't start again for a few weeks after the babies are hatched.

After raising babies, my Silkie will lay a total of about a dozen eggs over a 4-6 week period, then she'll stop laying and concentrate on hatching her eggs. She'll keep setting until something hatches (she's so stubborn!), then she'll raise the babies. She starts laying again about a month after they're hatched, then she'll lay her dozen eggs again and start all over again!

If your other hens have access to the nest your broody hen is brooding in, they might lay eggs in her nest. I usually mark the eggs I give my broody so I can remove any extras my other hens have contributed. Or I put the broody in a seperate cage.
 

PunkinPeep

Songster
10 Years
Mar 31, 2009
3,642
69
229
SouthEast Texas
Quote:
What a baby-making machine!
big_smile.png


You mark them because if she takes in more eggs, then they won't hatch at the same time because they were lain later? Is that right?

So is a dozen a normal number for a hen to brood?
 

elmo

Crowing
11 Years
May 23, 2009
4,907
264
336
DFW
My understanding is that development doesn't begin until the hen starts sitting on the eggs and incubating them. That's why the first laid egg and the last laid egg in a clutch normally hatch with a day or so of each other, even though they were laid even a week apart.

That's why you can ship eggs through the mail, too. Development doesn't start until you put them in the incubator.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,323
20,226
907
Southeast Louisiana
You don't need to let her keep her own eggs. She will be glad to hatch any eggs you give her.

Yes, you save up the eggs you want her to hatch, mark them with a magic marker or sharpee, and give them to her all at one time. You can give her a couple of fake eggs to sit on while you are checking to make sure she is broody. If she spends the night in the nest instead of on her normal roost, she is broody. That's the best way to tell as far as I am concerned.

How many eggs you can give a broody depends on her size and the size of the eggs. She needs to be able to cover all of them. With your hens and eggs, 12 is a good number. I assume you do have a rooster?

If she is broody, you have some decisions to make. I'll give you a link that discusses whether to isolate her or leave her with the flock and some of the things you need to do if you go either way.

Isolate a Broody? Thread
https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=213218

Exciting, isn't it? Good luck!!! Hope she is broody.
 

PunkinPeep

Songster
10 Years
Mar 31, 2009
3,642
69
229
SouthEast Texas
Quote:
Thanks for that link. That clarifies why to mark the eggs.

I've been getting around a dozen eggs a day, so i was thinking that if she is broody, i'll just give her that day's worth of eggs when i decide to start. They'll likely all be mutts at this point, but i want to learn how to deal with this, so it's cool. Oh, and yes i have a rooster.
big_smile.png


Here's what i was thinking isolation/non-isolation-wise. We have a three-holer nest box inside the coop for 20 hens - 15 of which are laying right now (i think). Two nest boxes seems like not much, especially since they already climb all over each other to share the boxes in the morning. But i have a kitty litter box that i think they would be less likely to try to share with her, since there's a smaller hole, and because they're not used to laying in that anyway. What i would like to do is put the covered (i forgot to say that) kitty litter box underneath the elevated nest boxes. The flock free ranges all day and comes in to lay their eggs, but she would have relative privacy in the coop most of the time, added to the nice privacy of that litter box. Does it sound like my plan will work? I think it's even big enough that i could put a little dish for food and water in with her in case she doesn't like getting out of the box.

And yes, i'm way excited! I can't wait to see her leading her little chicks around the yard. What grand fun!
 

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