Pros and cons of letting a broody hen hatch eggs?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cruelshoes, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. cruelshoes

    cruelshoes Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 3, 2007
    Washington State
    One of our hens has gone broody. We are trying to figure out what to do, if we want to let her hatch some eggs, or if we want to try to get her over it. What are the pros and cons or allowing a broody hen to hatch eggs. New chicks is both a pro and a con for us, since we are stretched to the limit and can't really accommodate more chickens. While it would be cool to see the whole egg/hatch thing, it will be hard for Barg to give away any chicks that might happen to hatch. Is there an impact to their health for letting her or not letting her hatch eggs?

    What will happen to the pecking order while she is broody? She is the top in our flock. If she is out of sight for a while, will they develop a new pecking order?

    The eggbox she is in is the one that all the hens have picked as their favorite. What happens when the other chickens want to lay? Will they try to push her out, or will they automatically gravitate toward the other box. We have never had any of them lay in our other nestbox.

    Thanks for any input.
     
  2. cruelshoes

    cruelshoes Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 3, 2007
    Washington State
    We just took 3 eggs out from under her. They were very warm - almost hot. Can we eat them, or will her body heat have made them unsafe?

    No eggs from the other chickens yet today......
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2007
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    If they've been under her for a day or two and it's hot, i'd just eat it. Nothing is developing in them so they should be fine, just warm.

    As for pro's and cons. Her heath is impacted regardless if she hatches or not because as long as she is broody, she will be eating and pooing once a day. She will lose a good amount of weight over three weeks, or how ever long it takes for you to break her. Some are harder to break thanothers.

    She will most likley stay at top as she will get an even larger attitude while broody and nobody will want to bother her. My rooster doesn't even think about standing in a broody's way. My broody even went off and attacked a hawk twice that tried to take her chick. They get strong personalities when broody/mother henny.

    All the other chickens will lay under her if she doesn't stop them. Mine laid eggs across from where my broody liked to sit so she rolled them all under her.... It's a good idea to mark the eggs you want to hatch out so you can tell them apart.

    Some say to seperate the mom from the flock to let her hatch in peace... but I don't follow that rule. Every time my broody has gone broody, it wasn't a good time for chicks so to break her, I just let her have one single egg. She's always been happy with the one egg.

    Remember though, eggs are 50 50 so you might end up with a roo.
     
  4. paganfish

    paganfish Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2007
    Fleming, Colorado
    Hey C-shoes.

    In my experience. If one hen is sitting on a clutch of eggs the others will think that is the best place to lay *their* eggs.

    If you want her to hatch the eggs you might want to move her or she will have to fend them off herself and it can be stressful for her...depending on how big she is she might not win most times. Also, the hen has to do her usual stuff-eat, drink and poop once a day. So, she gets up from the clutch to do that and another hen might get in the box and discourage her from sitting...which she might give up on and then the other hen gets up because all she wanted was to lay an egg...NOT sit on them. [​IMG]

    It is ok to eat the eggs though they are warm. Make sure you are not removing the eggs the hen has been sitting on all this time. That can be quite the shock! I mark the eggs that she sits on with pencil or crayon then when I check her I pull any that are not marked...since the others have laid them in there.

    Good luck! I love watching hens hatch their own eggs...it's an amazing process!!! [​IMG]

    ~c: >

    PS I have little to no experience here...so some other folks might be able to help you better.
     
  5. paganfish

    paganfish Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2007
    Fleming, Colorado
    Incidentally...I too don't follow the rule about moving the hen. Of course, I have bantys in one coop and bigger girls in another...so it's a fair game. If the hen is smaller than her counterparts while she's broody, I think I would separate them...but that's only cause my big girls are mean and aggressive. AND I want chicks! LOL!
     
  6. Hotwings

    Hotwings Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 27, 2007
    southwestern Michigan
    I am a big fan of the broody way, although I have no personal expierence with incubators. I am assuming you have a roo. Cons would be she will be out of the egg laying production for a while. Dedicated hen will rarely leave her nest to eat or drink. I don't know if you would want chicks this late in the year though. Believe me a hen knows what to do when it comes to keeping the eggs turned and humity and etc. The interaction between hen and chicks are fun. Some hens might be alittle aggressive if you handle chicks. I have been told that sometimes a hens status will be higher by having her own brood. The plus side is by hatching your own chicks by hen she does all the work. Some breeds like the buff are very broody and once they wean chicks they might go right back into being broody. Buff are very determined broodies. Good luck.
     
  7. paganfish

    paganfish Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2007
    Fleming, Colorado
    Humm... Well, I have heard that some hens will hatch a clutch of eggs in cold weather. Some as low as 20 degrees! Yikes! My last hen to go broody did so at the end of September and I was worried THEN! Eeek!

    [​IMG]
     
  8. cruelshoes

    cruelshoes Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 3, 2007
    Washington State
    Thanks for all the responses. Lots of food for thought. We don't have a rooster (we live in the 'burbs), so all the eggs she has been sitting on for the last day or do are infertile. If we wanted her to hatch eggs, we would have to get some fertile ones.

    Would chicks hatched at this time of year in the Seattle area be able to make it? It has frozen a few times in the last week, so I am worried about the cold.

    I guess we will figure out what happens when the other chickens want to lay because there is another chicken in the nestbox right now. She must have gotten up to do her "daily constitutional" and someone jumped in there. Maybe we will move her down to the nestbox that nobody likes and see if she will stay there. We can give her an egg to sit on. Will our wooden egg work, or does it have to be a real one?

    Barg is really working on me hard to let her hatch some eggs, but I'm not sure it is a good choice in our situation. He is very convincing when he wants to be........ [​IMG] I can almost hear "look what followed me home - can we keep it??"
     
  9. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Since she is a first time broody, she may not be so good at the broody thing. If you give her a wooden egg... you will have a sitting hen for literally months.. My broody sat for 6 weeks before she finally got a chick. I could not for the life of me break her!!!

    If she's doing good at keeping eggs under her now, I'd go for just two or three fertile eggs so she can keep a few chicks warm. A brood of 12 isn't the best at this time but one or two will be just fine. My broody is toting around a chick right now and on day three, they were pecking about in 40 deg weather while it was raining! The chick was having a blast too eating up tomato seeds. She does a good job and nobody can touch her chick. She lost about 2 lbs sitting for 6 weeks. But since she now takes her chick to raid the cat dish and go wandering around the pace to eat all day long, she's back to her 5-6 lb state.
     
  10. bigzio

    bigzio Overrun With Chickens

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    Jan 20, 2007
    Wisconsin
    Since you don't have a roo and the eggs won't hatch, I would simply collect the eggs on a daily basis by reaching under her. The biggest problem is the broody being pecked by others trying to use the nest. Most good broody hens will convince the others that this space is taken... however she could be moved to another nest to allow the girls the normal nest, and peace for everyone.
    Touching and handling your flock is good for you and your flock.

    bigzio
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2007

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