Mystery hatch date!


7 Years
Oct 15, 2012
So I thought it was just coincidence that the same hen was always in the nest box when I would go to check the food and water, and then I realized today that she's broody, with a pretty decent sized clutch under her, a mix of all her flockmates' eggs as well. So I don't know exactly when she started sitting on them. We've been collecting from the other nests, but we haven't been disturbing her. A few problems are arising from this:

The other girls seem to be laying other places (on the coop floor, other nest boxes) but I don't know for sure that no one is adding to her clutch with a different hatch date egg group. Also, we have 2 roos, one of which is injured and hasn't been mating lately, leaving one roo for the other 7 girls (we had 8 but one had to be put down yesterday).

So I don't know how long into the incubation process she is, I don't know how many of the eggs are fertile, and I honestly don't know how many are actually under her, my daughter thinks it's somewhere around 12-17.

I'm not to keen on the idea of disturbing her at night to either candle, mark the eggs, or move her and the nest to another coop. I haven't noticed any picking on her, and my flock is pretty close-knit and mellow. She did come out to eat and drink tonight, and now that I know she's broody I can give her some food and water in the coop.

So is there any real way to tell how far into the process we are, or is it just going to be a complete surprise? And how about my "let mama do it" philosophy? I'd hate to disrupt a good thing and kill the babies because I intervened. Thanks for any advice you can give!

Add'l info: This is our first broody, and her first time as well. She is a blue laced red Wyandotte, right at 1 year old. Both roos are BLRW, one splash and one dark (although at this point I think the darker one would be the daddy of all of them with the other being injured). Other mamas that have contributed to the clutch are one other BLRW, an ameraucana, a silver laced Wyandotte, and a black French copper maran. Should be an interesting group of babies!


Staff member
Premium member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
Tipperary, Ireland
Basically the best way to figure this out and get the most out of that hatch would involve disturbing her, unfortunately. I'd suggest candling the eggs under and discard any that candle clear. Then you will need to figure out how far along the fertile ones are, which will be a guess, but here's a great candling guide that shows what the eggs should look like day-by-day:

Mark all the eggs you leave under her and either remove the fresh ones daily or block the other hens' access to her box. Or, if she agrees, move her to her own private broody box where she can sit in peace and the others will have their box back. This is risky though, as most broodies don't take kindly to being moved while they are sitting, but it can work. If you do that move her at night, so she'll be sleepy and less likely to fight and she will wake up in the new place with her eggs and hopefully stay put.

Do not feed her where she is sitting. This may cause her to relief herself on the nest and trust me, broody poops are something else. You do not want that in your nest boxes, or the coop for that matter! Rather make sure there is food and water available for when she gets up. She should get up once a day, at least to stretch her legs and have a bite to eat.

Good luck with the hatch and keep us posted.
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