Natural Hatching / Broody questions

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by disneygirl, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. disneygirl

    disneygirl Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Apr 17, 2010
    [​IMG]
    Hello, please forgive me if my questions have been asked, I looked but can't find the answers to a few specific questions. I have 5 different breeds, Buff, Red, White Leg, Americana, and Barred Rocks. And we have roosters of all the breeds. My questions are these:

    1. I have different hens that are laying on a clutch in the same nesting box. They seem to be taking turns (three all together) for about 7 day:bows now. Is this normal? Is it ok?

    2. The clutch of eggs is sometimes unattended, is this ok? Do eggs have to be sat on constantly to hatch?

    3. I am nervous to leave eggs in the box since I had a catastrophic problem with eggs that had gone bad that I did not see in a real high up nesting box a couple months ago and I lost over 10 of my poor babies. I am a freak about keeping the nesting boxes clean and fluffy now but I would really like to hatch a few naturally before winter so I have broken my rule about collecting eggs in this one nesting box. But if they are not being attended constantly am I making a mistake? Does a broody hen ever get off the nesting box? What is normal?


    Thank you VERY much in advance for any answers, I love our Chickens sooooo much and would like to see many babies running around! These chickens are so wonderful and have so much personality they follow us at our farm, come running up to us when we get there every day. And all our roosters are Nice! Much thanks goes to this forum (THANKYOU ALL) for the constant flow of advice and great pictures!
    [​IMG]
    Laura
     
  2. ADozenGirlz

    ADozenGirlz The Chicken Chick[IMG]emojione/assets/png/00ae.png

    6,117
    67
    281
    Oct 18, 2009
    Connecticut
    Quote:I can speak to part of your concerns. I had my first broody this summer (during the hottest weeks on record in Connecticut in July!) and she would get off the eggs once a day (which is all I saw, she could've snuck out more than once) to do her thing (eat, poop, drink). While she was gone, several of my other hens would often sit on the eggs for her. The eggs were white (shipped eggs) and my hens only lay brown and blue eggs. I would find brown and blue eggs under her, which, I assume, meant that other hens were laying in her nest box either with or without her in it!

    So, the eggs don't have to be attended 100% of the time, but if they aren't attended at least 99% of the day, the hatch isn't likely to go very well.
     
  3. nuts4chickens

    nuts4chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    291
    2
    121
    Sep 19, 2009
    Kingston, GA
    A broody hen will usually only get off the nest once a day to eat or drink. I have seen mine get off the nest for as long as 20 or 30 mins... really depends on the hen. I've had some hens that I've had to force off to get up and eat and drink, otherwise they'd go for DAYS without leaving. I have also had several go broody at once and fight over ONE nest. I tried everything to get them in seperate boxes, but nothing worked. I moved a few eggs to each box, but inevitably, they all piled up again in ONE box and left the rest of the eggs in the other boxes to cool.

    I had this happen to me this spring with 3 broodies fighting over the same box, and this is what I did:

    I marked all the eggs with a pencil, so I knew which ones were being set, and which ones had just been laid (because all those other darn hens inevitably want to lay in the same box you have 4 broodies in.... LOL. Also... you dont want different hatch dates, or some left half-baked when the first part of the clutch hatches and Mama follows them out of the nest)

    I did try to move the eggs with ONE hen to a different location, but she was frantic to get back to her original spot, so I put the eggs back and let them ALL set in the same box. As day 21 approached, I started examining the eggs several times a day for pips. Once I had my first egg pip, I moved ONE hen out with the eggs to a broody box in the garage. She settled in fine, I guess because she could hear the peeping. They all hatched fine.

    When the chicks were a week old, I moved Mama and the chicks back out to the big coop. I was very apprehensive about this, because I was afraid the other chickens would kill the babies, so I kept a close eye. It took all of 2 minutes for all my chickens to figure out NOT to mess with a broody mama and her babies. She kept them all in check, and the babies integrated quite nicely into the flock.

    I am not an expert, by any means, but this is just what worked out for me. It was really easy, and now it's my preferred method for hatching chicks. No brooder lamps, no chicken fights when the newbies get thrown in from the brooder. Mama does it all.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2010
  4. disneygirl

    disneygirl Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Apr 17, 2010
    THANK YOU!!!![​IMG]

    I am soooo excited now. I am such a newbie at the hatching thing! I really appreciate both of your insights and will heed the advice. I will post pics of any new babies!!! I am pretty sure there is not a long time since today there were two on the eggs!

    I tried submitting a picture but I need more practice I guess.

    Thanks again,
    Laura
     
  5. ADozenGirlz

    ADozenGirlz The Chicken Chick[IMG]emojione/assets/png/00ae.png

    6,117
    67
    281
    Oct 18, 2009
    Connecticut
    Quote:BTW: Two broodies sitting on the eggs does not cut the brooding time in half! Lol! [​IMG]
     
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,852
    32
    249
    May 23, 2009
    DFW
    Is it possible for you to separate your broody on her nest from the rest of the flock? You avoid a couple of potential problems if you can. First of all, if she's not separate, other hens will try to add eggs to her nest. The eggs that get added later will hatch later than the ones that began incubation earlier (of course), resulting in a staggered hatch. The hen will typically stay on the nest for a few days after the first chicks hatch out, but not later than that. You'll either have to pop the unhatched eggs then into an incubator or under a willing broody, or those chicks will die.

    The other thing that can happen is the broody can be muscled off the nest and not resettle before the eggs get chilled (resulting in chick mortality). This is what happened to the clutch of eggs that our Billina came from: she was the sole survivor when her mom was scared off her nest by a higher ranking hen.

    I use portable nestboxes so it was very easy to move my broodies. I just picked up the box they were in with their eggs and moved it to where I wanted. If you have a more traditional nestbox, I've read that it's easier if you move the hen with her eggs at night. The other option is to fashion a temporary pen around the broody right where she is now.

    Make sure where ever the nest is, it isn't someplace that gets too hot in the sun. There should be shade, and food and water nearby. If all goes well, you should expect chicks around 21 days after the hen has settled down to business on the nest.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by