Not sure when to move Debbie off her other eggs to be with newborn chicks?


Jul 9, 2015
Debbie, our broody hen, is sitting on about 18 eggs... one of our other hens kept laying eggs under her, so all the eggs are developing at different stages. We have a homemade incubator on standby. When she abandons the eggs to be with the chicks, we plan to move the eggs to the incubator.

The first chick hatched today -- I could barely see it peaking out from under Debbie. She's continuing to sit on the eggs (and the newborn chick).

We have a small coop on standby too, to move Debbie and her chicks into. Buuuuuuut now we've confused ourselves.

Will Debbie just abandon the eggs one day once she's hatched as many chick as she wants to? I'm not sure how to care for this newborn chick until Debbie is ready to be moved to the small coop? I put a handful of starter feed next to Debbie and a chick waterer, but they're all in a nesting box in a coop with our other hens and rooster.

Did we do this all wrong?

Last spring our broody hen sat and hatched just her four eggs -- we had no problems. Everything got nuts when we realized the other hen was laying her eggs under Debbie too.


I Love Autumn
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Jul 16, 2015
Most hens will get up and move 2-3 days after the first chick hatches. Some will continue to sit on the nest longer.

Put feed and water within reach, about 6-10 inches away. You will just have to watch and be ready with your incubator. It's best to mark all eggs on the first day of incubation and remove extras daily to prevent staggered hatches.


Feb 12, 2017
East Tennessee
Next time try to mark the original eggs. Then you can pull out any news ones when you find them. We check every day or so for new eggs.
She'll probably ditch her eggs in 2-3 days from first hatch.


Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
Colorado Rockies
What to do now, though? My advice is to give Debbie another 24 hours on the nest and then remove all unhatched eggs and let them hatch in their own good time in your incubator.

There is a real danger Debbie will continue to sit on the unhatched eggs instead of seeing to the needs of the chicks already hatched. Even if the early hatches manage to fend for themselves, a widely staggered hatch may present problems.

There's a danger some chicks coming later may be rejected. It's a survival thing. The larger chicks may prevent the smaller ones from getting enough food, and the broody may abet this. This is one reason it's recommended to avoid staggered hatches.

As the rest of the eggs hatch in the incubator, you will then need to brood them yourself. But I would try to do it in view of the Debbie and her chicks if possible so they will become familiar with one another. This will ease the issues of integration later, in fact making early integration a possibility.

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