scared i may have killed my clutch :(


10 Years
Jun 1, 2010
Seattle, WA
hey friends. Our banty was broody for 2 months so we bought fertile eggs to stick under her. They were due to hatch yesterday and we've been watching her excitedly. today I finally heard peeping. One hatched this morning and is very cute and fluffy. if I were more talented I'd download the photo to here. later in the day another hatched and it's already dead. Here is what I think is wrong based on what I've read here: the mama is happily sitting on the eggs, but we picked her up three times or so to look under her, and we picked up one of the hatching eggs (the one that died). it sounds like we let the humidity out.

Question: have we killed the entire brood, if they weren't hatching? if the egg was intact, does that mean the humidity is ok because it's still inside the egg?

Question: since mama is in there jealously sitting on the eggs, do they need a heater?

Question: when will they start eating and drinking?

Question: do they need antibiotics?

Question: why am I such a dork that I didn't look this up ahead of time (slaps forehead). Don't answer that.

thanks for help to a newbie.

Betsy in Seattle
mom to two kids, 1 kitten, 1 bearded dragon, 2 banties, 1 barred rock, 1 RIR, 2 americaunas.
I took a hatching egg out under my broody the first time and killed it
Just learn from your mistakes! There nothin you can do about that. The other eggs should be fine. You should put out start and grow and water on the ground around the broody. She will get up and show the chicks how to eat and drink when the time is ready. No heater necessary. She is warm enough. Well.... maybe if you want to, you could add a wet sponge or paper towel onside of the nest, not on the eggs, to up the humidity. I dont think that it is necessary though. Just dont lift her up again! lol good luck and go run errands now to keep busy!
I lifted my first broody hen a couple of times to check for chicks and had a reasonable hatch rate. Two DID die fully mature in the shells, though. However, some just die at full maturity as they run out of energy, so it is not always our fault. However, best advice ( and that which I now always do!) is to leave momma hen alone and let her do things as she wants.

Momma hen is warm enough and humid enough, and hens have been hatching eggs without our help (or interference) since time immemorial. She will also eventually abandon any eggs which are not going to hatch.
So relax, leaving her with water and chick crumb close at hand. A couple of my broodies have been so glued to their not-yet-hatched eggs that the chicks have found their own food and fluid before momma has shown them. They are very resourceful.

It is SO good to come back and find chicks peering out from momma's breast, wings, and even her back!

Good Luck,
sigh. in our scientific curiousity to see what is going on i fear we have interfered. also the way mama was situated, eggs have scooted out from under her and even fallen down the ramp of the chicken tractor. so i hope the one hatchling survives, and if another one makes it we'll be thrilled. thanks for not being mean about my ignorance like I have seen others do on other fora... Betsy
Welcome from Olympia, WA -

You came to a great site for information. I don't think you did any harm by lifting the hen up. I just reach under my girls and pull the eggs out to take a look and then put them back.

I have two momma's sitting on 4 eggs each. Four eggs pipped this morning with hopes to find chicks when I get home from work.

The chicks injest the yoke sack prior to hatching and can live off that for 3-4 days. I wouldn't worry about putting in water and crumbles until all have hatched and then put the crumbles and water nearby. I did dip the chicks beaks in the water last time and then they drank on their own. Momma will teach them everything they need to know and will keep them warm. Make sure the chicks are able to get back up in the nest. At the beginning they don't fly up very well. With my first broody hatch last fall, I put up a ramp to the nest box until they could fly up 5-6" to the lip of the box that sat on a pallet.

Good luck with your babies and be sure to take lots of pics because they grow up so fast. Seems faster when broody raised.
I have been raising chickens for over 40 years. I have gently and briefly lifted broody hens to check on the progress of eggs and never lost a single one because of it. The hens often stand up themselves to check on their own eggs and chicks, rearranging them before settling back down. You did nothing wrong if all you did was pick the egg up to look at and replace it.
thanks, that's nice of you to say.
they are in a chicken tractor. I closed them into the upper chamber because I'm scared of them falling down the long, steep ramp. So they will stay in there until they are mobile. unfortunately it's dark in there (and full of slugs -- what is UP with that??? but at least one of the babies is peeping away under mama!!
The slugs are probably going for the feed and/or poo. They have great senses of smell. Maybe try to put something on the ramp they don't like, to keep them from going up it. OR you could always get a duck that LOVES slugs.

I have three banties in a dog house turned tractor in the front yard but put up 1/2 inch hardware cloth on the 8' run portion that's aproned out a foot plus that keeps the slugs out.

Are you moving your tractor so you're getting away from the onces that are being attracted to the feed/poo? I move mine every other day. Daily in the dry months. It's just too heavy without wheels to move daily with the wet ground.
i know, it's odd. some of the chickens (RIR in particular) don't mind eating slugs. out here in Seattle we've got ginormous slugs and the chickens don't like them. the ducks used to love them, before the ducks got eaten by raccoons, poor things. I don't remember 6 ninch long slugs in Baltimore. (and I'm not talking Banana slugs, either.)

well if they are eating the poo, that's fine, but they seem to be hanging out >in< the waterer, too! odd.


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