None of my eggs hatched... what went wrong?


7 Years
Jan 18, 2013
Beulah, Colorado
Hi All!

I have a mottled Java hen who has been broody pretty much since she began laying over a year ago. She is so desperate to be a momma that I broke down and got a Black Australorp rooster for my flock, and he got straight to work ;) We started with 5 fertilized eggs (I candled them after a few days to make sure). One by one, 3 of the 5 were picked off (1 broke, 2 just kinda stopped developing). So my lil' Java sat on 2 eggs very diligently for 23 days! During this time, I candled about 3-4 times just to be sure all was well. Day 23 comes, and I'm starting to suspect all is not well... no pipping, no movement, no signs of life, nothing. So sure enough, I candle the 2, and both have died. In fact they quite literally exploded as I was handling them. So my question is, where did it all go wrong? Were the other girls jostling the eggs (Java was setting in the coveted nesting box)? Nutrition? Too warm? Too humid? Any theories or ways I can do it differently next time? Thanks in advance!!
It sounds like when that egg broke the egg gunk got on the other eggs and caused bacteria to get inside and grow. I had a hatch ruined because of that.

The egg shell is porous so the chick inside can breathe. When she lays an egg, the hen puts a layer called bloom on the egg to help keep bacterial out but let air in and out. Bloom works pretty well but when and egg gets dirty like from a broken egg or maybe a big clump of poop, bacteria can get inside and rot the egg.

Why did that egg break to start with? Many different possible reasons. Usually it means the egg either had a hairline crack or maybe was really thin-walled. It may have broken when the broody was getting on or off the nest (they walk on the eggs then) or maybe she was turning them and the egg shell was too weak. Maybe another hen was laying with her and did that. Maybe the broody hen was fighting off a predator of some type and the egg was broken. Maybe there was a nail head or something sharp and hard sticking out in the nest where the egg got cracked when it was turned on it. There could be many explanations. All it takes is a small hole to start the problem.

What can you do in the future to help with that? Before you set eggs, you might candle them looking for cracks or excess porosity. Make sure there is plenty of bedding in the nest to cushion the eggs. Set relatively clean eggs, some dried streaks are OK but no big clumps of poop or dirt. Try to make sure the egg shells are fairly hard and thick. If they are thin when you break them to eat, they are thin when they go under a hen.

I think I’d break her from being broody and try again nest time she goes broody. That will give time for her breast feathers to get clean through a few dust baths. Clean out that nest and put new bedding in it. Then just hope for better luck. These things happen but really not that often. You did not do anything wrong, just were unlucky.
Thanks a lot for your help! That first egg broke due to a small crack... and it did make quite a mess in the box. Also, almost every time I go to check the eggs, they have been pooped on. I think next time around I'll be putting Java into an isolated box so none of the other girls can get in and cause chaos in her hatch! Thanks again!

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