Incubator Vs Broody Hen Dilemma

Willawong Hill

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Apr 28, 2020
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So I purchased 12 eggs recently (in Australia so height of summer here) and only 3 went anywhere. 1 blood ring, so two made it to lockdown but neither hatched (on eggtopsy hadn't absorbed yolk or internally pipped at all). After noting that I only had 2 viable chicks on day 10 candeling I got another 7 eggs from a different source. On day 9 today 4 or 5 of this second batch look good. So here's my dilemma, if none hatched in the incubator last time am I better staying with the incubator to hatch the eggs or putting them under a broody hen (she's just gone broody the last day or two so if this is the case then when should i transfer eggs- at lockdown or prior)?

The incubator is an older model and I was having trouble keeping the humidity up during lockdown (80% when i went to bed, but 40% in the morning). Also, the temp may have been low as I had a secondary thermometer down at egg level which read about 37 C whereas the incubator sensor was set to 38.5C (so possibly temp was too high- not sure which reading to trust). However, the broody has never hatched eggs before so I don't know which is more likely to be successful? I'm desperate to have some millifleur pekins hatch!
 

DobieLover

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So I purchased 12 eggs recently (in Australia so height of summer here) and only 3 went anywhere. 1 blood ring, so two made it to lockdown but neither hatched (on eggtopsy hadn't absorbed yolk or internally pipped at all). After noting that I only had 2 viable chicks on day 10 candeling I got another 7 eggs from a different source. On day 9 today 4 or 5 of this second batch look good. So here's my dilemma, if none hatched in the incubator last time am I better staying with the incubator to hatch the eggs or putting them under a broody hen (she's just gone broody the last day or two so if this is the case then when should i transfer eggs- at lockdown or prior)?

The incubator is an older model and I was having trouble keeping the humidity up during lockdown (80% when i went to bed, but 40% in the morning). Also, the temp may have been low as I had a secondary thermometer down at egg level which read about 37 C whereas the incubator sensor was set to 38.5C (so possibly temp was too high- not sure which reading to trust). However, the broody has never hatched eggs before so I don't know which is more likely to be successful? I'm desperate to have some millifleur pekins hatch!
Where did she go broody?
How old is she?
Is this the first time she's gone broody?
If she is dedicated and not backing down on being broody and is currently in a good location (ground nest) to hatch, I'd give her the second batch of eggs now.
If she is well heeled in but in a bad location, move her (and the entire nest if it's portable) to the ground in a semi-private area, and put a few fake eggs in it and see if she stays put. You'll need to monitor her for a couple of days. You can physically remove her for her broody breaks in the morning before you start chores and watch her. If she makes a mistake and tries to go back to her original nesting location, correct her by putting her just in front of the new nest site and let her settle back on the nest. Once she is faithfully returning to her ground nest, mark the newer incubator eggs and slip them under her after removing the fakes from the nest.
You are going to have to raise the first two chicks if they hatch. You can't put eggs that are 10 days apart in development under her. When the first ones hatch, she will wait maybe a day before abandoning the rest so she can raise her chicks.
Good luck.
 

Willawong Hill

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Apr 28, 2020
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Queensland, Australia
I would say she's been broody for 2-3 days so far (so will have had a good two weeks by the time the eggs are due to hatch), she is young ( only 7 months or so) and it is the first time she's been broody, but she is a pekin (bantam coochin) so genetically predisposed to it. I would need to move her if i'm going to use her so I will do that tonight and watch her for a couple of days before i decide. Unfortunately the other two eggs did not hatch (I'd say died around day 18).

The real question is what would you trust more to hatch eggs- an incubator with a bad reputation or an unproven broody hen?

I'm happy to brood myself or have her look after them after that hatch so that is not really a concern, i just want to know what is most likely to have these babies survive.
 

hysop

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I would say she's been broody for 2-3 days so far (so will have had a good two weeks by the time the eggs are due to hatch), she is young ( only 7 months or so) and it is the first time she's been broody, but she is a pekin (bantam coochin) so genetically predisposed to it. I would need to move her if i'm going to use her so I will do that tonight and watch her for a couple of days before i decide. Unfortunately the other two eggs did not hatch (I'd say died around day 18).

The real question is what would you trust more to hatch eggs- an incubator with a bad reputation or an unproven broody hen?

I'm happy to brood myself or have her look after them after that hatch so that is not really a concern, i just want to know what is most likely to have these babies survive.

If you’ve already seen the eggs not doing well in the incubator and will most likely not make it anyway, it wouldn’t hurt to try the broody.

I had a known broody that hatched her own eggs once and the following year she went broody so I put some 8 day old eggs from my incubator under her and she abandoned them after a day. Thankfully I only lost 1 or 2 out of that batch and I could tell it was at day 8 when they stopped developing which was when I put them under her.

So she may abandon them or not do well. I see this post is almost a week old. What did you decide to do? How did it work out?
 

hysop

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Thanks for that, my thread is here:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/incubator-vs-broody-hen-dilemma.1435846/#post-23749767
It's a borrowed incubator, I am having trouble keeping the humidity up during lockdown, I can get it to 80% before I go to bed, but it's down to almost 40 in the morning. I have it set to 38.5C but i have another thermometer in there which reads 37C at the height the eggs are at so not sure which is right- if i have it too hot or too cold. Broody will have bene broody for about 2 weeks at the time of hatch, I would probably move the eggs at lockdown (4th Jan) if I was going to.

If she’s still broody by Jan 4th I would go ahead and place the eggs under her.

Did you calibrate the extra thermometer? Also, do you have an extra hygrometer as well? What kind of incubator is it?
 

Willawong Hill

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Apr 28, 2020
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Queensland, Australia
Thanks for your help @hysop and @DobieLover
So far I have just left the eggs in the incubator, but I'm thinking about moving half at lockdown (not having all your eggs in one basket and all that). I actually had two broody at the same time but broke the first one by trying to move her (probably a bit early). The second lady is still broody but leaves the nest at night sometimes (once she sees you looking at it will come back). The extra thermometer hasn't been properly calibrated but is closer to the temp in the other incubator (I moved the first lot of eggs to a hatching incubator for lockdown- same type as they had been going in. thinking of not moving them for lockdown this time as the original incubator they were in may be more stable?). The separate thermometer has a hygrometer but there is no hygrometer on the lockdown incubator (but is on the original incubator which correlates pretty well with the separate hygrometer). Confused yet? haha
 

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