The art of using broody hens- share your wisdom/experience

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sandiklaws, May 15, 2010.

  1. sandiklaws

    sandiklaws Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hello, I have been out of the chicken game for over a decade, and when I last had birds, did not have to think about "using" broodys- they either were laying or they dissapeared and showed up w/ chicks a few weeks later. I just picked up a standard cochin and a buff orpington that have been broody for a few weeks. I do not have an incubator. The girls are each in their own rabbit hutches, and have nests w/ golf ball eggs. The cochin seems like she still wants to set- put her on the golf balls and she settled right down on them like she had not been moved, and when last checked was grumpy... the orp (who I was told had been setting longer), investigated her food and stuff, and when last checked was pigging out. My questions are: How long should I wait to replace the golf balls w/ real eggs (an experienced person told me 2 days)? Is there anything I can do to help things along? Can 1 Standard hen cover a dozen eggs (I have a doz eggs, picked up from the source, from a well known and respected Faverolles breeder I am anxious to hatch)? How long will the eggs, presumably laid w/ in the last few days, last as far as fertility and hatch rate? Other than keeping the eggs in their box in a temperate place in my house, what (if anything) can be done to help preserve their hatchability? and lastly, what should I absolutely NOT do?

    Thanks for your interest [​IMG]
  2. Mrs. Fluffy Puffy

    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy Fluffy Feather Farm

    Jan 26, 2010
    Texas, Panhandle
    I have a Buff Orp hen setting on 19 eggs right now. Once I moved her to a hutch she settled right down on them and has been setting ever since. I would leave the golf balls under them until either you fill they're ready to have real eggs or you have some eggs to put under them. [​IMG] Hope this helps a little bit.
  3. suburbanminifarm

    suburbanminifarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2009
    N.San Diego County
    Hmmmm..... I'd never use a broody that has Already been broody for a few weeks. Chances are she wil lose interest before the 3 weeks are up. She may already be tired of being broody and it's hard on her body too. Try to catch them when they are just starting to be broody.
  4. sandiklaws

    sandiklaws Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks so much for your reply! I do not have any grown birds other than the two broody gals.... might have some shipped though. What is the max successful hatch you have had under a standard hen?
  5. sandiklaws

    sandiklaws Chillin' With My Peeps

    also, has anyone hatched duck eggs under a chicken?
  6. Nostalchic

    Nostalchic Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have two broody Cochins sitting on Maran eggs right now. They were seriously broody for over three weeks before I finally gave in and gave them some eggs of their own. I will say that I tried initially to move them - in their full "broodiness"- to a separate, protected place in the same coop and they quickly abandoned the eggs, wanting to get back to "their" nests - even though I used the same nesting material and put their Maran eggs in there. So I let them go back to the community nest, and they are back on the job, seemingly quite content. I'm sure that displacing them into a new environment, as you have done, could have big impact on them and their hormones...
  7. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    You may have a chance with the Cochin. I would give the eggs to her right away, like tonight. As long as she is in the mood and undesturbed, she probably will go the distance. She can cover a dozen just fine. Not much you can do to "help things along", just swap the balls out & put the eggs in AT NIGHT. Hatchability drops off after 10 days. Slowly at first, then more rapidly. One of my little game hens hatched 100% after the eggs laid in the hot August sun for 30 days in FL, but I would consider that the exception. Hens can hatch most anykind of eggs. I had a little game hen that hatched a goose egg. Good luck.........Pop
  8. sandiklaws

    sandiklaws Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks so much for sharing... i am going out to check the girls:fl
  9. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    If that cochin stays on her nest all day & gives you the stink eye each time you approach, it should be safe to swap her golf balls with the eggs. If the Buff O goes back to her nest you can try setting eggs under her too, maybe tomorrow or the next night. Certainly do it well after dark. It can help if you keep her cage darkened for the next few days, that helps to encourage them to stay broody. Many hens will stay brooding on a nest for more than 3 weeks, I've had some who went for 7-8 weeks.

    But I wouldn't keep using hens as incubators on a regular basis. Once they've hatched the chicks you should let them have time to raise them and go back to laying for a while. Many broodies will go broody again after a few weeks of laying.

    Edited to add: I've had chickens hatch duck eggs and now I have a couple of hens on goose eggs.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2010
  10. whytedragon

    whytedragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2009
    Floresville, Texas
    Thanks for the wealth of knowledge!

    I have 2 broody Silkie hens, their eggs started hatching yesterday, but unfort. a big rain storm came in, and their nest leaked and drowned the chicks (9). So I moved them back in with the other Silkies, and they quickly set back on new eggs that are due to hatch in the next day or so (I had them in the incubator).
    My fear is that since they are in with 10 other mature Silkies, 5 of which are roosters...will the chicks be ok?

    Oh, and i've got a Cockatiel setting on 4 Button Quail eggs. No idea how that'll go!
    Last edited: May 15, 2010

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