Putting eggs or chicks under broody

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Mrs. Mucket, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. Mrs. Mucket

    Mrs. Mucket Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 3, 2010
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    I've never hatched eggs in an incubator or had a hen hatch her own. But right now, I have some eggs in the incubator and a broody Dark Brahma banty sitting on eggs in the coop. Her name is Pigwidgeon, or Piggy for short. I remove the eggs from her but next time I check she's always on some other eggs (hers and her roommates' eggs). Some of the eggs may be fertile, so I actually could let her set.

    But I am going to separate the incubator chicks into two groups anyway and would actually like Piggy to raise some of them. Right now she's in a busy coop but I will be able to give her some more privacy in another week or so.

    Could I put Day 18 incubator eggs under her instead of finishing them in the incubator? Or does a hen need to set on the eggs longer for any reason?

    Or, should I wait till the incubator hatch and put new chicks under her?

    How and when do you put eggs or chicks under a broody so she'll be likely to raise them as her own?
     
  2. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm a firtst time incubator-er (just started today)... but I know a lot about Broodies... love them! They are so much simpler!

    You can do either. If she is truly broody, she will want to sit for a while anyway. If you want to start them in the incubator then give her some "nest eggs" (fake eggs) to sit on and make sure she stays on them and is truly broody... then move eggs under her at any time removing the nest eggs.

    If you want to hatch them in the incubator then move them under her at one day old, then do the move at night, removing the nest eggs as you place the chicks. Place one or two babies at a time, keeping them tucked inside your closed hand and not letting her see them being placed under her. In the morning it's like, "Oh! look what I did!"

    I have never had a problem with a truly broody hen taking adopted babies... she really must want babies to sit for that long!
     
  3. Mrs. Mucket

    Mrs. Mucket Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mmaddie's Mom, by two chicks at a time, do you mean put two chicks under her each night, or just wait a bit between placing pairs of chicks?

    Today I realized Piggy is going to sit on any eggs she finds in the nest anyway, so I might as well let her have some fake eggs. Then I'll put some incubator eggs under her on Day 18 or baby chicks after hatch. Next time around I'll just give her some of the fertile eggs to start with.

    Piggy is normally extremely shy and submissive--I've never seen her aggressive or ornery. She has been the lowest on the pecking order in a flock of nine hens. The past few days she has squawked at other hens in the nest box and pecked at me every time I reach under her (none of the other hens do that, but they also don't stay on the nest too long). Yesterday when she did briefly leave the nest to go outside, she walked right past my two little granddaughters to get back to the nest instead of running away and hiding as usual.
     
  4. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    I just meant that I can only fit 2 in my hand at one time... putting them under so she doesn't see what is in your hand... 2 under... 2 under... 2 under... all at once... just so she can't see what you have in your hand... hope that makes sense. Remove any eggs (fake, non-hatchers or otherwise) as you replace with little warm fuzzies!
    She will be so excited in the morning when she looks under and finds them!
     
  5. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Being a mom might just move her up the pecking order... sounds like she is stepping up to the plate!
     
  6. Mrs. Mucket

    Mrs. Mucket Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your help [​IMG] More questions:

    Piggy is sitting in the corner of a 36" wide nest box that's 24" off the floor. Soon her only coopmates will be two other banties, a Silkie and a Barred Cochin (her best buddy--they used to be inseparable but now Piggy is ignoring her). Right now a RIR that's in there with them is laying her eggs on the other side of the box. A week ago there were 9 hens in there, but two went home with my daughter this weekend and I moved three others to the next coop to join Mr. Rooster's harem. I kept the RIR back because she'd been pecked some but she could move before hatch.

    Should I try to move Piggy down to floor level before the hatch? After the hatch? I'm afraid chickies would fall out of the nest box.

    I could set up a dog crate on the floor for her. Door open or closed? Does Mama still come out to eat, drink, and poop in the last couple of days?

    I use the deep litter method. I assume it would be good to clean out the coop and put down fresh shavings before the chicks hatch?
     
  7. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Is Piggy on real eggs now? How many days has she been setting really well? Are you going to let her hatch eggs herself or move babies after they are hatched?

    Either move her down soon (if she is setting solidly) or don't move her until after the babies are here. I have done both.

    If you move her now (say to a dog crate) move her and the eggs (fake or real) to the prepared crate after dark with a minimum of fuss. Set her right on the eggs, even pressing her down on them gently, so she can feel them on her tummy. Keep her closed in with food and water just a short walk away (say to the front of the crate). Put real eggs with her when you want or put hatched babies in when a day old. If you have later hatched babies you can add them for several days BUT only in the dead of night, quietly, calmly. Hens can't count.

    If you let her stay up where she is, you need to watch closely when the babies start to hatch... she and new babies won't move much for the first day or two... after that she will want to take them out for their first walk-about THEN you will have to move them down to the crate, again with plenty of fresh food and water. I keep the whole family unit closed in the crate for a week or so to get solidly bonded before I let them out with the flock. First few times out, I stand guard with a broom to help her protect her babies from other hens. I continue to put the family unit back in the crate at night for a few weeks, until she take them to the big pen/coop herself.

    Hope this is hellpful.

    dmb/mm
     
  8. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oh... and a little clean-up is fine, but I wouldn't do major stuff around her. It might upset her setting. Besides it's healthy for the babies' immune systems to be exposed to "their" own home territory.
     
  9. Mrs. Mucket

    Mrs. Mucket Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 3, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    Piggy has been sitting every time I check for the past week. At first I took eggs away but then decided to let her set on two eggs.. But they are probably not fertile. One is not hers...would she have pulled it over from the other side of the nest? Her roomie laid her egg in the pen today so maybe Piggy is not letting anyone in the nest box.

    My plan is to give her some incubator eggs on day 18 when I take the turner out of the incubator (that will be the 27th). Then I would let her hatch those and maybe later add some chicks at night too. She is a tiny banty so I'm not sure how many standard eggs she can cover, but I'd like her to raise several chicks if they hatch either under her or in incubator. There are about 15 eggs from RIR and BO--hopefully some will be viable. Today I candled at day 7 and couldn't see anything much except some dark shadows about 2/3 of some of the eggs. But it could have been the shell opacity. First timer so I'm just not sure!

    I can move her down to the floor anytime but I have back issues and would like to avoid bending down that far to clean and feed as long as possible. What is the latest you would move her and her eggs?

    ETA photos: Piggy on the right, two roomies trying to lay their eggs. Even with more space, the nine hens have almost always used just two nests. This was last week before most of the other girls moved to another coop. One RIR is still in Piggy's coop for a few more days, plus two other banties that are still on their infrequent winter laying schedule.

    [​IMG]

    I was taking eggs away but Piggy stayed in the nest box anyway, so I let her be. She has taken up the left corner now with her two eggs.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  10. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    So totally understand about the back (bone scan & x-rays yesterday myself)... so I probably wouldn't move her at all until the babies are here... as I said they don't move much for the first couple of days and then you can move her and them at that time. The reason that I usually move them either very early or not until they are hatched is because I don't want her to give up on eggs that she has already sat on for a couple of weeks (just in case she decides to get bad after I move her). Just keep a close eye on her the closer you get to day 21. Also, if I do leave them in the nesting box (up off the floor) I usually put a nice cushion of straw (or whatever you are using) right under the front of the box... just in case someone does fall out.
     

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