Need a quick lesson on hatching eggs with a broody hen

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by lemuckley_flock, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. lemuckley_flock

    lemuckley_flock Out Of The Brooder

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    So one of my hens went broody about a week ago. Someone one this board who is local has been kind enough to offer me some fertilized eggs for her to sit on (our only roo is still a babe). I'm picking them up on Friday morning....I know there's a thread here about hatching with a hen, but it's like 650 pages long and I don't have time to read the whole thing. Can someone give me a quick schooling on what I need to do? I understand that I need to separate her from the rest of the hens (she's brooding in one of the nesting boxes right now). I just finished throwing together a box for her up by the house - it's in our covered lean-to, extra tarp under, over, and around it to stay doubly dry. If I understand correctly, after I put all of the girls up for the night and it's dark I need to move her and her fake eggs that she's been sitting on for the last two days up to her box and close her in for the night? Then make sure she stays on for the next day or so (going out to eat and potty, of course). I'm going to have my husband sort of enclose a small area for her to keep the rest of the hens out (because they already want to know what's going on up there) and keep feed and water for her in there. What else? Just stick the eggs under her and wait? Can anyone give me pointers? We've never hatched eggs before....we've got 11 hens and 15 chicks who just got the boot from the house (about 4-5 weeks old I'd guess). The kids are crazy excited about possibly seeing some eggs hatch, so I'd be pretty bummed if I did something to screw them up, kwim? Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    You have most of it ok.
    Make sure where she is will be predator proof because she'll be vulnerable.
    Put some DE or sevin 5% in the nesting material because sitting that long also makes them prone to lice/mites.
    After that, just have food and water nearby. Don't interfere and wait 3 weeks.
    You don't need to make sure she gets off the nest to defecate, eat and drink - she will when she knows it's right.
    Anything you do will be interference. Chickens wouldn't have been around 6000 years before incubators if they starved themselves to death during incubation.
     
  3. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Sounds like you're all set. Hatching with a broody is about as easy as it gets. When my hen went broody last summer (1st and only experience with a broody despite decades of chicken keeping LOL) it was in the favorite nest box, so the others kept cramming in with her to lay their eggs each day. Since none of them were fertile, I had to keep collecting them. After 3-4 days I decided she was serious about it and obtained some fertile eggs for her from a local person. After dark, I set the fertile eggs in a new nest that is in a separate small coop/run. I lifted her off the nestbox in the coop, carried her to the "broody coop" and set her on the eggs. She wasn't happy, screamed at me when I picked her up and bounced off the nest as soon as I set her down. But I simply closed the door and left - no peeking or otherwise checking on her, because I figured either she would take to the new eggs or she wouldn't and no amount of peeking was going to change that, and might only disturb her enough to make her give up being broody.

    Next morning I went to check once it was daylight and there she was, sitting on those eggs. Despite triple digit temps for the entire brood time, she hatched out 7 chicks and was an awesome Mama. I left her in the broody coop/run until the chicks were 7-10 days old and by then she had cabin fever and wanted to be out with the rest of the flock. I was concerned the other hens might pick on the chicks but with Mama Hen around they really didn't dare get close and the chicks quite naturally integrated into the flock. They are now 25 weeks old and being the youngest are still the lowest ranking members, but they are members nonetheless and getting ready to start laying themselves. Here's a couple of pics for ya!

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    First chick to hatch
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    First day free-rangin' with their Mama
     
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    I am not an expert by any means, but I would try leaving her with her buddies for awhile sitting on her eggs. Just mark the eggs for incubation so they are not mixed up since others may lay their eggs in the same pile while she is off eating or pooing, but I think she would be lonely for 3 weeks by herself. When my broody was about 4 days from hatch day, I moved her to her own coop with 1 friend. After the babies hatched, I returned her buddy back to the big coop. An alternative would be to put her in the largest dog cage or rabbit cage in the coop so she could still have company while sitting, without others moving her off her eggs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I don't know what they're thinking, but I don't think broodies do really get lonely while they're brooding. They sort of turn inwards and actually seem to want to be left alone more than they want company. (This is based on what I've read besides my one experience). Also, leaving them until 4 days before hatch before moving them runs the risk of having them be so upset by the move that they give up on the eggs altogether and then you'd be hastily trying to get an incubator going while the eggs were still viable.

    My broody coop consists of an A-Frame coop with an attached 4x6 wire run. Because it was summer, I set her nest box in the doorway of the coop area, leaving the door to the run open. She could see and hear the rest of the flock as they free-ranged around her but I never saw any evidence of her trying to interact with them in any way. When they came close and peered through the run at her she ignored them and I never heard her "talking" to them either.

    The dog crate in the coop idea is a great option too!
     
  6. lemuckley_flock

    lemuckley_flock Out Of The Brooder

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    I've got her set up by the house, but she won't be all alone. She's very close to the little chicks (they're entertaining at least) and the big girls will still be able to come up by her - she's set up where they like to go dust, because of the roof it's always dry under there. She gets worked up by the other big girls now though, because they want to lay in the box she's in and they try to push her off or climb in with her....I need to move her. This is the second time she's gone broody in less than a year, and I remember the last time she sat forever - like 5 or 6 weeks - so I'm hoping that letting her hatch this time snaps her out of her trance and gets her going again.
     
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    I've done it both ways - with the flock and without. I think things go much more smoothly when they're alone. They're pretty much in a trance and don't care about having company during that time. I've had 2 go broody together and try stealing eggs from each other, squeezing into the same box, crushing eggs, etc.- not pretty. I've since always separated them and never have issues.

    If you aren't planning on hatching eggs, I recommend breaking them from broodiness right away. The longer they're broody the harder it is to break them. If they don't hatch eggs in a timely manner, they continue to be broody they end up with limited food for weeks longer than normal.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012

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