Mother Hen Burying Unhatched Eggs on Day 22. What Does It Mean?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by bluey, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. bluey

    bluey thootp veteran

    Apr 10, 2008
    Washington, PA
    Our hen, Churkey, has hatched half her eggs and today she was not sitting on them but she had buried them in the hay deep on the other side of the brooder. The brooder is in our garage and away from the other chickens.

    Does burying them and not sitting on them necessarily mean she has given up on them? She's on day 22.

    Any help would be appreciated. She seems more interested in raising the chicks she has rather than sitting on the eggs.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Broodies vary so much in their behavior.

    I would guess she gave up on them, which may or may not mean they are no good.
  3. bluey

    bluey thootp veteran

    Apr 10, 2008
    Washington, PA
    Thanks. Anybody else see this behavior before?
  4. IggiMom

    IggiMom Songster

    Apr 12, 2009
    West Virginia
    Why, yes. Broodies are sort of 'programmed' as it were to sit on the eggs for a set amount of time. Many times they will go longer, sadly, sometimes, not long enough.

    But when they are done, by golly, they are done. They take whatever they have hatched and leave.

    I do not actually believe that a hen can tell if an egg is good or not, but of course, I could be wrong. I think she is just finished when she is finished.

    You can sometimes get her to accept chicks if you sneak them under her at night, if it is right about when they would have hatched anyway.

    I have had people say that you have to put broken egg shells under her to keep up the charade, but this is not true.

    I heard of a hen, not one of mine, that dutifully tried and tried to hatch out an apple (actually, this was in a book I read about raising chickens, but I believe it.)
  5. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    Quote:I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't seen it in action over and over. After candling the dud, I can determine she was right every time. My theory is the smell; if we can smell rotton eggs in our incubators, why is it such a stretch to believe they can, too? After all, they roll them with their beaks, so they're very up close and personal!

    To the OP - I've had this happen, too. I had one broody sit on a nest of 4 and she kicked out 2 eggs and went to all the trouble of burying the eggs in the shavings outside the nest. She's my only hen that has ever done this and I assumed she was protecting the cleanliness of the nest by getting the dud as far away as possible. I don't think it's a common behavior, but if she broods again, she may do it again.

    Can you candle the eggs to see if they're duds?
  6. bluey

    bluey thootp veteran

    Apr 10, 2008
    Washington, PA
    Thanks for all your answers! They were very helpful! It seems like she has no further interest in hatching anymore eggs. She is concentrating on being a momma.

    Here she is with her 5 peeps (one is under her!) getting ready for bedtime!


  7. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Hens will sometimes leave eggs that can hatch, if they are late hatchers, and her other chicks are ready to run around. The little ones start venturing out if the, she does her job, and goes along to protect them. She can't watch over the already hatched, while taking care of the unhatched. This is one of the several reasons it's not good to add more eggs (not saying that's what happened here, sometimes some are just slow, sometimes some just don't hatch) after she's already setting on some. They all need to start at the same time.

    During incubation when hen kicks an egg out, it's usually a dud. The ones that have developing chicks begin to generate body heat, so when mom gets off the nest for her daily break, the live eggs stay warmer than the dead ones. When she gets back on the nest, some will be warmish, some will be cold as a stone. She'll kick those colder ones out of the nest. I doubt she understands what it means, she just feels those cold, uncomfortable lumps under her, and doesn't like it. Out they go. Or, if they're to the point they smell bad, that'll do it, too.

    So yes, they can tell when an egg is bad, but it's not some mystical process. It's just warm vs. cold, or good smell vs. bad smell, or live, peeping chicks, vs. just eggs. We humans just don't understand what we're observing, sometimes.

    ETA: If you have a 'bator handy, you can stick abandoned eggs in it, if they look good when you candle them. Give them a day or two, they might hatch. If they don't hatch by then, they're probably dead. My DH once picked up eggs left over when mama left the nest, and put them in the big green garbage can out back. It was a warm day, the eggs were in a bag, and the garbage can got nice and warm. A while later he went out the back door and heard peeping in the garbage can. There were two hatched chicks in there! He took them out, and they were fine. It was a few years ago, I don't remember if we snuck them under mom at night, or what.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2009
  8. LoveMyBirds

    LoveMyBirds Songster

    Aug 10, 2008
    Quote:My hen back in March hatched 5 and left one in nest.. It was pipping so I had to help it out over a period of hours and a heat lamp.. The next day it was running around with rest of the group.

    I had another hen that left all her eggs (No burying them) for 8 little chicks that I ran into her side of room to protect them from the other group and from the cold weather. (heat lamp there on that side).. (My bad on that) I threw the 4 eggs in my incubator and 2 of the 4 hatched.. One was dead from being to cold I guess... and One egg was bad..

    I'm wondering if your chicken buried them or a rat.. A rooster does some silly things but if you had all those isolated then guess it was that.... That's really odd being buried like that...
  9. M@M@2four

    [email protected]@2four Songster

    Mar 12, 2008
    [​IMG] Bluey, adorable!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  10. ibpboo

    ibpboo Where Chickens Ride Horses

    Jul 9, 2007
    always changing
    How are the little chickies doing? Did you ever do anything with the remaining eggs?
    Very cute. [​IMG]

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