Need Advice on a Broody Hen situation

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sagehound, Apr 25, 2019.

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  1. sagehound

    sagehound Chirping

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    I am a first time chicken owner and am having my first broody hen experience:

    I have a hen that decided to go broody in the nest box and finally let her. What I didn't know is that the other hens were going in on top of her and laying additional eggs. So when I finally took her out of the next box and put her in a different area by herself she had about 15 eggs under her. I let her sit on all of them because she had been sitting for about 10 days and I didn't know which were the original and which were laid later. (I will never have that happen again).

    Anyway, we had one chick hatch on Monday and 3 more hatch on Tuesday. I had one more hatch yesterday and she still has about 9 eggs. Now I have food and water and fresh herbs in the crate with mom and babies, but I am worried that the other eggs could be hatching in 1 day or 2 weeks. She hasn't gotten off the nest and I don't know what to do. Should I let her keep laying on the eggs or should I remove them. I have not candled the eggs so not sure how far they are and honestly the thought of getting rid of them doesn't seem right, but I will do it if it is the right thing to do for the the mom and the new babies.

    The babies all look healthy and they are running around and going underneath her for warmth. She hasn't shown them what food and water is though and that is why I'm worried.

    Looking for advice and tips from the experienced folks out there.

    Thank you!!

    ps. I have since covered her area up with towels so the other chickens can't bother her or the babies. I have also put cardboard around the bottom so the babies can't get out.
    I also have the water and food in chick feeders on the floor with some chick grit in another container.
     

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    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    You're discovering the other big problem with surplus eggs being laid on top of the ones present when the broody began to sit. Chicks hatched several days after the first chicks, will be at a dangerous disadvantage if they do hatch, and the hen may kill them so the first chicks won't compete with them for resources. Or she could choose to abandon the first chicks in favor of sitting on the unhatched eggs.

    So, human-being-in-charge, you need to decide what you want to do. Some people incubate the remaining eggs. I've tried that and failed, so now I toss out the eggs after I satisfy my morbid curiosity as to the development or viability by candling or cracking them open.

    Once you remove all unhatched eggs, you will need to unceremoniously drag the broody off the nest and start showing the chicks the water and drop a few crumbles onto the floor so the chicks and broody notice the food. Hopefully, she will get the hint and waken to her new role as a mama hen.
     
  3. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Crowing

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    Cute chicks! Hope momma hen is a great momma!

    Agree with @azygous, you'll need to make a decision as to what to do.
    1. remove and incubate remaining eggs.
    2. remove chicks and let momma hatch other eggs
    3. remove remaining eggs and no longer incubate those eggs and let momma be momma to those already hatched.
     
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  4. sagehound

    sagehound Chirping

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    Powell Butte, Oregon
    Thank you both for your response (@Acre4Me and @azygous) Those are the options I have thought about but really needed some experts to confirm for me. I don't have an incubator so I am thinking that I will remove the eggs and let her be a momma to the ones that have already hatched. The first chicks hatched are running on reserves so they need to start eating. I am going to run to the TSC to see what an incubator will cost just in case. The idea of breaking open an egg that was just about to be a chick makes me sad. (plus it's my own fault for not putting her in a different place at the start...lesson learned!)

    Thank you again. I will let you know how it goes.
     
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  5. Criticalicious

    Criticalicious Songster

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    Amazon has the Brinsea II Advanced incubator on sale for $142 right now. I would candle before spending money on an incubator.
     
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  6. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Crowing

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    It is really amazing to watch momma hen be a momma hen! And those chickens sure do teach us many things - like this - everyone wants to get in on the laying action, in the same nest box, broody be darned!

    And, as far as the partially incubated eggs, you would have had a similar experience if you let nature take its course. Momma would leave the eggs in favor of the living chicks (thereby allowing the unhatched chicks to die in the shell), or would possibly kill them (later hatches) as intruders, or would ignore living chicks for the eggs. You have 5 healthy chicks now and she will learn to be momma hen!

    Good luck.
     
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  7. sagehound

    sagehound Chirping

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    I tried to candle the eggs (not sure how....but looked it up) and since they are all colored (blue, green, brown) I wasn't able to see anything.
     
  8. sagehound

    sagehound Chirping

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    Thank you. I agree with what you are saying...it is just harder than I thought it would be. :) Also, I have one chick that has something coming out of its abdomen and I'm not sure if it's yolk, umbilical or intestines. I picked him up and looked at him and he seemed a bit weak but I also know he hatched today. I just left him with mom (he went underneath her) and figured I would see how he was in the morning. Is there something else I should do?

    As an aside, how long does it take for a chick to hatch completely from the shell? There is a chick that has been hatching for most of the day and I can't tell now if it is still breathing. Any thoughts or advice?

    Thank you!
     
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  9. Sassysouth

    Sassysouth Free Ranging

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    @sagehound glad you asked the question because I had no idea! My hen went broody and I let her sit on fake eggs, because I know many of the real ones were not fertile. I bought baby chicks for her and she has been the best momma! I love watching them!!

    ETA: sorry, I am no help with hatching chicks. I hope she is doing well and makes it.
     
  10. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Crowing

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    I can’t provide much info on hatching. I’ve incubated and hatched quail. I’ve bought and raised chicken chicks myself. I’ve bought chicken chicks for a momma hen to adopt a few times (always successful). But, I’ve never hatched chicken chicks.

    If the chick is moving around, and went under momma that is good. But, if lethargic, you might want to give some nutridrench for a boost. The abdomen might be yolk and might be umbililical, and should go away.
    Good luck and I hope the lethargic chick perks up!
     
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