Should she brood now?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by ClareScifi, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I returned from vacation to learn my beloved hen had died the day I left, August 25. She was only 1 year and 5 months old. Her sister survived.

    My neighbor gave me these chickens and he thinks we should get the surviving sister to hatch eggs so she will have a companion for the winter. She is all alone now that her sister died, as I had only the 2 chickens.

    So while I was away he put eggs under her and she is brooding on them. They are unfertilized. He has ordered some fertilized eggs be brought down from a farm today for her to try to hatch.

    I live in Zone 5, Salt Lake City, Utah, and last Thanksgiving it got down to 0 degrees F on Thanksgiving night. Granted, that was exceptionally cold for my Zone, but it happened. The adult hens survived that, but I'm worried about these upcoming chicks hatching in late September. Isn't it too late? I don't have a heated coop.

    The hen is a Barred Rock and the eggs are from white leghorns and smaller bantam-like chickens. I'm worried about mixing breeds.

    Would it be better to buy an adult hen as a companion for my chicken than to try to get her to hatch eggs? I've heard hatching eggs is tricky and it may all be in vain and she'll end up lonely anyway.

    I also worry about introducing a new chicken with the possibility of parasites and/or disease.

    But my neighbor is dead-set and the eggs arrive today. What should I do? I also have 6 cats that I'm worried will get the chicks. I do have a run to keep them in, but this is all giving me a huge headache to think about. I can't take any more tragedy and sorrow. I'd send the chicken away to be with other chickens but I'm not sure that's fair to her, considering the pecking order and how she has always been a Queen here with me and it would be added stress. If her sister dropped dead of a heart attack, which I'm not sure of but suspect as BRs are broiler breeds and she had picked at her breast feathers which can be indicative of fatty liver disease, her surviving sister doesn't need to be subjected to any extra stress in her life, for I fear the same thing will happen to her, although she hasn't picked at her breast feathers.

    All suggestions will be appreciated. Won't molting start soon and possibly cause complications with her hatching the eggs? I guess what I'm looking for are some solid arguments I can use against having her sit on eggs.

    Where can you buy 5-month old healthy pullets in Salt Lake City at this time of year, I wonder? I also wouldn't mind a healthy, elderly chicken for a companion for her. I don't care about eating eggs, except it is fun to make angel food cakes with them. How I miss my beautiful pet chicken.

    Clare
     
  2. Gypsy07

    Gypsy07 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, if you don't want her to hatch eggs for whatever reason, surely you should just stand up to your neighbour and tell him that as politely as possible. I mean, okay, so he gave you the chickens in the first place, but now they're your chickens so surely the final decision rests with you, with no reason required.

    But if you don't want to be direct and honest about it, maybe you could let her sit on the eggs but sneak them away two at a time and freeze them or something. Then after a week you'll be able to candle them and say 'Oh how sad, none of them developed...' Sneaky? Yes. But maybe better than a direct confrontation if he's really keen and he's already got the eggs.

    If she's broody though, it sounds like she wants chicks. And if your cats don't chase her, they most likely wouldn't chase the chicks. She'd look out for them and keep them safe. And if they'd be in a run anyway, the cats shouldn't even get anywhere near them. Temperature-wise, if chickens can survive it, most likely so would the chicks. In colder weather they just feather up a lot faster, and they're much hardier than we give them credit for.
     
  3. 10 point

    10 point country boy

    Feb 19, 2011
    LaFayette, NY
    I f you can provide a brooder box. aka a cardboard box with a heat lamp it wouldn't be a problem to let her hatch out eggs right now. I've got two broodies on eggs right now. and it gets even colder around hear in the winter.
     
  4. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you two for your very helpful responses.

    The eggs just now arrived and are all different sizes and colors.

    The neighbor was insistent so I took them, and I put them behind Esther Mary, since she wouldn't let me put them underneath her. She pecked at 2 of them, and I thought she would crack the shell, but she didn't. She seemed annoyed with me, but when I left to get her fresh food and water and returned, she had discarded the 2 unfertilized eggs she had been sitting on before the fertilized ones arrived, and was arranging herself over the fertilized ones, oh, so neatly and nicely! I couldn't believe it!

    So I snagged the 2 unfertilized ones and took in the house.

    I kind of think this broodiness could be a blessing in disguise because it may take her mind off losing her sister recently? If she were free-ranging all day, she might be reminded too much of the fun she had with Merry Easter.

    So what do I do next? I marked each egg with an X so I can make sure she's turning them. How often should she turn them?

    Do I need to lift her off the box to eat and drink each day? How soon do I need to put her back on the nest so the eggs don't get too cold, if she doesn't go there on her own?

    When her sister went broody, the sister went under the house where I couldn't see her. Thankfully, this girl seems okay with the coop where I can watch her easily. This all makes me quite nervous, but I feel chicks are better than buying another chicken who might have a disease or parasites Esther could catch from her? And she's going to need a companion or 2 for the cold winter ahead and socialization. Am I thinking clearly, do you think?
     
  5. Bantam Username

    Bantam Username Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You don't need to check she's turning them, although you may want to candle them after 7, 10, and 18 days to check they are developing. If she's sitting, leave her be. She won't eat or drink much but she should just get off when she needs to eat - usually when no one is looking, and get back on herself. Good luck, she'll know what to do. [​IMG]
     
  6. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the good info.

    How does one candle? I could Google it, but I think you would probably be able to better explain it to me so I can understand it?
     
  7. Bantam Username

    Bantam Username Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Get a small torch/flashlight (not sure if you are UK or USA), hold the torch in one hand with the egg big end against the torch - you may want to wrap your hand a little around the egg too to hold the light in. Heres a pic, hope it helps:
    [​IMG]
     
  8. ClareScifi

    ClareScifi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, Bantam! This is exciting! I just feel bad that I broke my sweet hen Merry Easter who died on August 25 of broodiness last summer. We don't have a rooster and she went under the house to brood on unfertilized eggs. I feel guilty getting to have the pleasure of hatching eggs, when she did not. How she would have loved to be a mother. If we get a girl, I am going to name her Merrietta Easter. I have a good friend named Marietta, and I think she'll enjoy having a chick named for her.
     

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