Staggered hatch under broody hen

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Sunny Side Up, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Please help me figure out what to do. I have a broody bantam setting on 7 eggs, 3 were placed under her 2 weeks ago, then last week I added 4 more eggs. Now I'm trying to figure out what to do when/if the first 3 hatch.

    I would like for the hen to mother all these chicks. Our county fair is coming up in Jan and I want to have the hen & chicks together in an exhibit there.

    The reason I added eggs after a week is that over half of the original clutch of eggs weren't developing, and I wanted to be sure that this hen would have some chicks.

    So if the first 3 eggs hatch, what should I do with the chicks? I want them to bond with the hen, but don't want the hen to be more devoted to them than to her remaining eggs.

    If I put them in the cage right next to the hen will she be frantic trying to get to them? If I just put them in with her overnight would that be enough for them to form a bond?

    Or should I try to incubate the remaining 4 eggs and bring the chicks to the hen once they hatch? I don't have a real incubator, what else could I use?

    Thank you for helping me to think this through.

  2. Ukiah

    Ukiah Chirping

    Nov 15, 2011
    2-3 days after the first chick/s hatches, the hen will leave (in most cases) the remaining eggs to find food for the chicks she already has.
    I personally would take the eggs you put in last, and incubate them - IF you can tell the eggs apart. Whether or not she will accept the
    chicks you hatched, depends on the individual hen. If you don't want to do that, and want her to continue setting on the eggs put in last,
    once the first chick/s hatch, your best bet would be remove the chicks once they are dry, and hope that she will take them back when
    she is through hatching. Staggered hatches never turn out well under a broody, IMO. County fair doesn't sound like a good idea to me,
    just my own opinion. To much stress, possible diseases etc.
  3. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I probably should have replaced all the eggs with ones I was sure would hatch. I was trying to get this bantam to hatch bantam chicks, and didn't know that the ones from a certain pen weren't getting fertilized. Even though there are 2 little roosters in there, those guys must not be doing their jobs. When I candled the eggs after a week they were still clear. Only the eggs from another pen of banties were developing, and I removed the clear eggs and added 4 more from the fertile pen.

    I've done a staggered hatch under a broody hen before, but the difference was only a few days. That time I just took the chicks from the hen as they hatched, and returned them to her after the last chick hatched. She's a real professional and took all the chicks.

    Often the problem is not the hen but the chicks who start life not learning to be responsive to the Mama hen. When she clucks to them they don't understand what she means. Sort of like hatching teenagers. [​IMG]

    I'm not concerned about our county fair, I'm part of the local poultry club that manages the poultry tent and we have a really nice exhibit. This hen and her chicks will have a nice secure pen and all our visitors will enjoy seeing them together.
  4. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Songster

    Oct 31, 2008
    If you have done it before, you probably have more experience with it than most of us, but it's a tricky business to bond the chicks to mama and not have mama leave the nest when appropriate to take care of the older ones. A week apart is pretty far to expect the broody to stay setting with chicks running around her.
    Perhaps you could let them bond for 24-36 hours then remove them until the next batch hatch?
    I think if it were me, I'd let her deal naturally with the last 4 eggs and plan on raising the early three on their own.

  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm 10 Years

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Quote:I agree. My opinion too.
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Well, the time has come and I've decided to just keep this little hen with her hatched chicks & unhatched eggs and see what transpires. Two chicks hatched yesterday, they were dry & fluffy when I discovered them at nightfall. There's a 3rd egg from that first setting that hasn't hatched as of this evening. And there are 4 more eggs due to hatch next Friday.

    The hen is still fluffed up & setting on the nest. There is chick feed & water easy for even the chicks to find on their own. They are in a nice cozy little cage that I have draped with feed sacks to give them more privacy. I'm hoping that the hen will be motivated to stay on the nest until the others hatch and that the 2 chicks will be content to hang out in the nest with Mommy, leaving on their own to eat & drink.

    Let's see how this plays out this week...
  7. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    She's still spending most of her time setting on the nest. I presume that the chicks can get sufficient food & water as they need it, the dishes are just inches away from the nest.
    [​IMG] Praying that she'll continue to incubate the remaining eggs until they hatch next Friday... [​IMG] [​IMG]

  8. tuesdays chicks

    tuesdays chicks Songster

    Apr 26, 2010
    stuart florida
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
  9. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Here it is Friday, perhaps it will be hatch day today or maybe tomorrow. Fifi is still staying on the nest, standing briefly only to grab a quick bite & drink and to leave her enormous turds. The two chicks are bright and healthy, staying snuggled in Mama's feathers, apparently getting enough to eat & drink for themselves.

    I sure wouldn't try this again, but am glad that it *seems* to be working for this hatch. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012

  10. suzeqf

    suzeqf Songster

    Mar 17, 2011
    I had a banty hen hatch a single and tried to hatch 2 more but they quit but she was a trooper she sat on them until her chick was 2 weeks old then she wanted out and i let her out for a bit to eat and socialize and left the chick in the broody nest and at 4 weeks old he out grew momma and started staying in the broody pen alone and at 8 weeks he was introduced to the flock, he's a little mad at me now because I have another broody momma in "his" spot with 6 eggs 2 weeks apart

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by