Too many egg. What to do?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Mudder Jones, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Mudder Jones

    Mudder Jones Out Of The Brooder

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    I am having a problem. We have eggs (hatching as I type) in the incubator. This is my first time incubating and I have spent all my time learning about incubating eggs. Meanwhile, I have a chicken that started sitting on eggs (also a first for me and my hen). We have 1 rooster and 14 hens. She sat in the box that most of the hen like to lay in. I wasn't aware enough to know when exactly she started sitting. The other hens have continued to lay in that box.

    1. My husband kept telling me to mark her eggs, which according to you is right, but how? She is never off the nest when I am down there. Do I shew her off the nest? Will she come back if I do? Will she try to attack? I didn't want to upset her any more than I had to.

    2. I know she has been sitting for maybe almost two weeks. Do I try to move her to another box this late?

    The real problem is now her box is full of eggs. There is no way she can hatch them all and the other keep laying so a staggered hatching is apparent, but if they don't stop, she will always have eggs to sit on. After reading a few threads, do I candle them and keep the best ones, andwhen is the best time? What is the best thing to do after I take some of the eggs out? How many is a good number to leave? HELP ME PLEASE!!!!
     
  2. TOP KNOT

    TOP KNOT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you move her, do it at night so she dosn't freak. Thats a good time to candle as well.I moved my broody to a different location. I made her a nest behind a hay bale in a shed with a big screen door. She is all alone. I keep food and water for her as she comes off the nest daily. Before I had moved her, she got on the wrong nest each time she got up to eat. Other chickens would lay in her box when she was up. If this disturbs her finish the eggs in your bator. Good luck!
     
  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    You say you have chicks busy hatching? And the hen you're guessing have been sitting for ± 2 weeks? You have some options here:

    What I would do is go out at night, when she's sleeping, and slip the incubator chicks (that's hatching now) under her and remove all the eggs she's been sitting on. This should be done within a day or 2 of them hatching. Chances are pretty good that she will accept the chicks if she's been broody so long. She may sit another day with the chicks, then get up off the nest with them, freeing the box up for the other hens to use. The eggs she was sitting on I'd candle, discard any that isn't showing any signs of developing and put the rest in the incubator. I'm aware that lockdown and humidity will be a little complicated with the eggs at different stages though, but it can be done successfully.

    Another option is candle all the eggs under her. (She'll probably complain when you bother her, but if you do it in the evening, which is also an easier time to candle eggs, she won't flee off the nest and probably won't make too much fuss.) Discard all the eggs that are not showing signs of developing. Pick out the eggs that are more or less at the same stage of development (Egg Candling Pics here) and decide which you want to leave for her to hatch and which you want to finish in the incubator. Take a non-toxic marker with you and mark the eggs you are leaving under her. Then, every day, go out and remove the fresh eggs.

    You can try and move her to another box, but most hens do not take kindly to being move while they are sitting, so it's risky. If possible leave her where she is or do as the above poster suggested and move her at night when she's less likely to kick up a fuss.

    Good luck!
     
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  4. TOP KNOT

    TOP KNOT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]
     
  5. Mudder Jones

    Mudder Jones Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all the great advise. I am going to try to candle tonight and let her hatch a few. Any advice for having new chicks in the coop?
     
  6. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Cool [​IMG] When hatch day comes make sure you keep everyone out of the box, so the chicks can hatch without getting squashed. Block the entry to the box with something. The broody will most likely not want to leave the box while the chicks are busy hatching, so she won't mind being stuck in there for awhile. Just make sure she has a little water and something to eat.

    Once the chicks have hatched and the hen decides it's time to get up, keep any eye on the rest of the flock and see how they respond to the newbies. Most flocks are o.k. with chicks and accept them without hassles, but you do get the odd lunatic (like a few members of my old flock) that would kill chicks. If your flock shows signs of aggression put the hen and chicks in a separate area from where they can see the flock and interact with them, without putting the chicks at risk. After 2-3 weeks, let the hen and chicks mingle with the flock again. By this time "mom hen" will be fully into her protective mother role and will not tolerate the others messing with her chicks. It's easier to introduce the chicks to the flock while they are still with mom, so it's better to do this before she weans them. This should happen when the chicks are around 7 weeks old, but some hens may go longer. (I broke up a hen and her brood once when the the "chicks" were 4 months old!)

    Make sure the chicks can get in out out of the coop and next box and wherever mom wants to go with them. A box at floor level for them to sleep in would be ideal.

    Do not feed the chicks layer feed or let the hen get hold of any, as she'll give it to the chicks. The high calcium content in layer feed harms chicks' kidneys. Even small amounts can be harmful, so it's best to stop feeding layer while there are chicks (under 16 weeks of age) in the same coop and give everyone chick starter, followed by grower. For the layers, who'll need extra calcium, offer crushed eggshells or oystershell in a separate feeder. The chicks may peck at it a bit, but they won't eat it.

    Fill up waterers with clean pebbles or marbles to prevent drownings and/or wet chicks. Little chicks are clumsy and have a nasty habit of ending up in water bowls, which is tragic and easily preventable.

    That's all I can think of now... I actually have a broody with her chicks in the coop with the rest of the flock at the moment and another broody who's eggs are due to hatch tomorrow. I've only had to switch the water bowls and feed really. They were so easy and the flock has been amazing with them so far. Hope all goes well with yours as well and please keep us posted!
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Your next broody hatch is going to go a lot easier. Think of all the experience you’re getting! You probably can’t appreciate that right now, but you will.

    Don’t worry about upsetting the hen by taking her off the nest once they are truly broody. A hen going broody is caused by hormones. Sometimes those hormones don’t fully kick in and the broody only plays at being broody. My test for that is that the broody needs to spend two consecutive nights on the nest instead of roosting in her normal spot before she is worthy of eggs.

    That first night when they are thinking about being broody can be tricky. If the hormones haven’t totally decided if they are going to kick in or not, tossing her off the nest might (not absolutely certainly 100% will but might possibly} break her from being broody. But I’ve never had that happen with a hen that has spent two consecutive nights on the nest.

    I collect all the eggs I want her to hatch and mark then with a black Sharpie. I put two circles on the egg, one the long way and one the short way. That way I can tell at a glance if the egg belongs. Some people are concerned that the Sharpie or Magic Marker gasses might penetrate the egg and harm the embryo. You can tell by looking at the inside of the egg that the ink doesn’t penetrate. I’ve had enough 100% hatches using a Sharpie that I don’t believe that, but if it is a concern, use a soft-leaded pencil to make the bands. A #1 pencil works great, a #2 is acceptable. Anything harder is hard to see after some of it wears off.

    Some people will tell you to do it at night when it is dark but I do it in the middle of the day without a problem. Take all the eggs out from under the hen, then put the ones you want her to hatch under her. Or toss her off the nest and make the switch. Then, every day after all the hens have laid for the day, check under the hen and remove any eggs not marked. As long as you check daily, those eggs are good to eat.

    Some hens can be very protective of their nests, while others are more laid back. If you are concerned about one pecking you, long sleeves and gloves may make you feel better. But it is important that you check every day.

    I don’t worry about the nest being up off the floor a bit. I’ve seen hens get chicks out of a 10’ high hay loft. Mama says jump and they do, then bounce up and run to her when they are on the ground. I don’t advocate putting a nest 10’ high, but two or three feet off the floor doesn’t faze me or them. I do suggest you have a pretty good lip on that nest especially if it is kind of tight. That’s to keep the chicks form accidentally falling out of the nest. The lips on my nests are generally around 5” to 6”. I did have a problem once with a lower lip. I had to put a chick back with Mama twice. I fixed that problem.

    The broody will decide when to bring the chicks off the nest. I’ve had a broody bring chicks off the nest within 24 hours of the first chick hatching. Mama was right. I checked the unhatched eggs and none of them were going to hatch. I’ve had broodies wait three days to bring them off. Those hatches were more spread out. The chicks absorb the yolk before they hatch so they can easily go three days or even more without eating or drinking. I let Mama decide when she brings them off the nest.

    I don’t put food or water in the nest for the broody or chicks. Hens have been hatching chicks without that for thousands of years on small farms. The broody can handle it. I don’t see anything wrong with doing that as long as you don’t make a mess in the nest. It just hasn’t been necessary. Do as you will.

    I don’t block off my nests during hatch and it hasn’t been a problem. But like Sumi said, it is possible you have Attila the Hen who is a pure brute. You are dealing with living animals, each with their own individual personality. Anything can happen.

    I don’t isolate my broody and chicks when she brings them off the nest. I put water and food at ground level in the coop so the chicks can get to it. My coop is big enough that I can do that. I just lower the feeder to the ground and put a dog bowl for water on a piece of old carpet with rocks in it. The carpet is to try to keep the amount of bedding the chickens scratch into the water to a reasonable level. The rocks are so when the chicks walk in the dog bowl they can walk on out.

    What normally happens with mine is that the broody keeps the chicks in the coop on the floor for maybe two to four days before she leads them outside. At night she usually just settles down on the coop floor with them, often in a corner but not always. On really rare occasions I have had a hen take her chicks to one of my lower nests. You’d be surprised at how high a chick can jump at just 2 or 3 days old, but occasionally one or more doesn’t make it. It’s a good idea to check about dark to see if they all did make it and where the hen settled for the night. If one can’t get to where the hen goes, you’ll hear it chirping. That’s not an issue. You will know it didn’t make it. Sometimes the broody will bring her chicks back off the nest and settle on the floor, but not always. I just scoop the chick up and put it in the nest with Mama.

    I’m not trying to say anything Sumi told you is wrong. This stuff doesn’t work that way, maybe other than marking the eggs and checking daily and starting them all at the same time. We all have our own unique experiences and situations. Coop sizes and layouts, chickens’ personalities, nest configuration, and our own experiences are all different. There is seldom any right way or wrong way to do this, just the way we decide to do it with our unique situation. I don’t have Attila the Hen. Apparently Sumi does. That means we do things differently. You need to try to decide what you read on here applies to your unique situation. That’s the hard part.

    Good luck. You have a bit of a mess but you will have some success. Next time will be a lot better.
     
  8. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    This is very much how I do it.

    The only issue I seem to have is the chicks can't hop the barrier from the barn to the outside world when mom wants to forage with them, so I move them all to the baby barn.. once hatched and depending on weather, keep them locked up until they are old enough to maneuver the ramp. They can't hop back in until they are a little older (1 week or so). Some of the chicks can and some can't by 4 or 5 days. Last night one hid under the barn all night with another hen who decided it was a good place to spend the night (not broody) it got chilly last night (50F) and the hen must have kept the little chick warm, because a 5 day old chick wouldn't make it all night without warmth at 50F. It popped out with the 'foster hen' when I went to let the siblings and mama out this morning. All toasty warm.

    Wish they figured out ramps faster...

    [​IMG]
    (I since added a log leaning up against this. That is what they can't seem to figure out. :| My chicks are real geniuses. (sarcasm)

    But in reply to the OP: I mark my eggs before I put them under the hen. If I miss a day of collecting the eggs (whoops - I seem to do that) I will toss any that appear to have a spot floating in the egg. I highly recommend marking the eggs though. Staggered hatches are difficult to handle. You either have to let the later eggs die, or intervene and incubate manually. Right now I am not incubating anything myself. If I leave an egg a couple days under the broody and it's later than the original eggs - I toss right away.. before the chicks get too developed.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Aoxa, I stack pavers inside and out to form steps to help them maneuver. It’s not perfect but it tends to work. Occasionally one will get stuck on the wrong side but even that seems to work out somehow.

    I think that is a big part of why it takes Mama a few days to lead them out of my coop to start with, some just can’t make it out immediately. I had one broody abandon a chick that couldn’t or wouldn’t make it after several days. That chick just stayed in the coop peeping while the other hens walked right by it to get to the nests to lay. I expected one of those hens to kill that annoying peeping chick, but they just ignored it. With Sumi’s Attila the Hen, that chick probably would not have made it. After about a week and a half that chick joined Mama and the siblings outside. That chick always was two floats and a marching band shy of playing with a full deck even after it made it outside.

    My biggest problem in getting them to use the paver steps is usually the chicks hatched from those tiny pullet eggs. Those chicks are smaller to start with since the tiny pullet eggs just don’t contain enough room or nutrition for them to grow bigger. Chicks hatched from regular-sized eggs are just so much easier. I practically never have a problem with them.
     
  10. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Attila the hen? [​IMG] I must remember that one. Actually I had a few of them in my first flock, years ago. For some strange reason they killed any newborn chicks. I don't know why and hope I will never have that experience again, but once bitten, twice shy, I keep an eye on my flock when I have chicks hatching now. Their behaviour I find is not common, thankfully, but I do recommend flock owners keep an eye on things just in case. As with all living things, chickens are unpredictable creatures and if I can spare someone the experience I had... I'll spare you the details, but trust me, it was not pleasant.

    My current flock are all sweethearts and the chicks I have at the moment has 3 moms and a dad fussing over them and I'm looking forward to my next broody hatch, which is due tomorrow :)
     

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