Scientist Answers ? Do Broody hens stop turning eggs,

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by growinupinfl, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. growinupinfl

    growinupinfl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok I think this is the best we are going to get besides doing our own broad test of broody hens during the last three days.

    I emailed the Auburn University Dept of Poultry Science. Here is his reply

    Christal:
    The hen detects movement within the egg closer to hatch time and has a tendency to stay on the eggs (or closer to them with less time off the nest). There is minimal moving or turning of the eggs by the hen also during this hatching period. Just an expression of their instinctive behavior.

    Commercially, eggs are turned automatically in setter incubators until day 18 and then are transferred into flat bottom trays in a
    hatching unit at 18 days of age for the completion of hatching.
    These "hatchers" are then thoroughly cleaned and disinfected as they await another transfer of eggs on their 18th day. While in the hatching trays, eggs are not turned.

    Hope this helps.

    John Blake

    Dr. John P. Blake, Ph.D.

    Professor and Extension Poultry Scientist

    Department of Poultry Science

    Auburn University

    201 Poultry Science Building

    260 Lem Morrison Drive

    Auburn, AL 36849-5416

    What do ya'll think? I think we should hold on to this guys info to send our other random chicken questions too!

    [​IMG]

    Christal​
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I think he has confirmed what those of us who have had broodies already suspected. Good enough for me.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Since you ask what I think instead of what I know, I feel qualified to reply. I understand the basic question is "Do broodies turn eggs during the last few days of incubation?"

    I think the land grant universities like Auburn have done a lot of studies (usually paid for by grants from the big poultry companies) to determine the best way to hatch eggs in an incubator. Best would mean mainly hatch rate as the top priority but also would include economic considerations like energy, investment in equipment or materials, and labor. Part of the labor consideration would include cleaning up afterwards. I think some of these studies would include observing what a broody does. And think a lot of the base research was probably done many decades ago.

    I think the same basic principles of incubation apply whether we are using one of those tiny 3-eggs still air incubators with hand turning or the huge fully automated cabinet models with thousands of eggs. Since Dr. Blake said that broodies don't turn the eggs much after they detect life in the eggs, I think he has a basis for saying that. If he had not said that, I would have suspected that turning is quite possibly irrelevent so why waste the energy and labor to turn them during the last few days.

    Performing experiments is fun. I've tried it on a different topic. I think there are so many variables involved with incubation, that we have such different conditions, and that you really need a large sample to get scientifically accurate results that it will be difficult for us to come up with meaningful results. A couple of examples. Some of us do not isolate our hens. That means another hen can lay with the broody, or try to lay with the broody and the broody actively discourages her, so the eggs can be turned during that event. Or maybe we disturb the broody when we are checking the position of the eggs so our act of checking the position actually causes them to be turned.

    Different broodies are going to have the instincts to a different degree. Some of my hens are better broodies than others. I think to get accurate results, you would need to observe many different broodies under conditions where they are not disturbed. It is an interesting question but I will not participate. I am not set up where I could get what I would consider meaningful results. Too many variables.

    Good luck if you pursue it. I will be looking at the posts for the results.
     
  4. pips&peeps

    pips&peeps There is no "I" in Ameraucana

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    I was under the impression that broodies don't "purposely" turn their eggs at all. It is just a myth.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  5. growinupinfl

    growinupinfl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    pips&peeps :

    I was under the impression that broodies don't "purposely" turn their eggs at all. It is just a myth.

    I might have agreed with you had I not been spying on my broody Cochin last night. I watched her raise up and rearrange her eggs using her feet, head and beak. It almost looked like she was counting all of her eggs, it was really cute.

    As for the experiment... Alright lets think about how to do this. Here is the options that I see to test this..

    1) Somehow install a web-cam out there to monitor them over the next few days to see if they leave their nest. I could also mark the
    eggs and see how their positions change. I guess like a nanny cam or some wireless webcam, but what is their range?

    2) Rent a digital video camera, cover it in plastic to keep the poo off of it run an extension cord, then watch them in fast forward, have no idea where you can rent one from.

    3) wait for next time and put some sort of pressure sensing mat that is activated by 1lb. I could put it under a hen next time and wire it in such a way that a light bulb would turn on or off when ever they get off the nest.

    Any other idea's on how to do this?​
     
  6. funnybirds

    funnybirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How about a small bell overhead that rings when the hen stands up and brushes it and a baby monitor to listen in? I've never had a broody hen so not sure if this is even plausible or a good idea.[​IMG]
     
  7. dragonjaze

    dragonjaze Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Hahaha, then what do you do when the hen starts playing with the bell (obviously put there for her to entertain herself during her boring broody time!)?

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Klaire

    Klaire Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:[​IMG]

    But knowing my hens they would freak out and think it is a way to persecute the sacred chicken self!! [​IMG]

    Klaire
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  9. funnybirds

    funnybirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Hahaha, then what do you do when the hen starts playing with the bell (obviously put there for her to entertain herself during her boring broody time!)?

    [​IMG]

    Yes, NOW it occurs to me that they sell bells in bird supplies at the pet store for play time. D'oh!
     
  10. growinupinfl

    growinupinfl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Isn't it amazing how often we forget our chickens really are birds..LOL too funny... Hey at least it was a thought unique honest and beautiful in it's own way...

    Christal
     

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