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Turning one lonely hen into a Brooder.

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by ThePixelMine, May 14, 2009.

  1. ThePixelMine

    ThePixelMine New Egg

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    We have one remaining hen from a batch of 5 after a tumultuous summer in 2008. Two were killed by a neighbor dog when they wandered into his yard and we donated two roosters because we live in the city and there were literally too many roosters in the hen house. Anyhow, we're ready to expand the flock.

    My questions are:

    1. Can eggs be introduced to a hen at any time or am I to wait for some specific time in her development?

    2. If I introduce fertilized eggs to her and she won't sit on them, what are my options?

    I have more questions, but let's just get the two major ones out of the way. TIA.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    1. Can eggs be introduced to a hen at any time or am I to wait for some specific time in her development?

    There is no way to tell when a hen might go broody. It depends on her hormones. For some hens and especially some breeds it never happens.

    2. If I introduce fertilized eggs to her and she won't sit on them, what are my options?

    Get an incubator.
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    There is no reliable way to make a hen go broody, and she will not sit on the eggs unless she is broody.

    You could try putting golf balls or fake eggs in a nest to see if she will set. I personally don't think anything like this works unless the hen was already about to go broody on her own, though.

    Don't know of any other options besides an incubator or buying live chicks/chickens.
     
  4. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree w/Ddawn. A hen goes broody when her hormones tell her to, regardless of what you may do.

    I wanted to ask, though, what breed she is, if you know? Some breeds are much more likely to go broody, some rarely do.

    Some that do brood may be triggered by seeing a nest full of eggs. The sight of the eggs can cause the hormonal shift, much as the sight of, um, certain physical features, can cause hormone shifts in humans.

    Golf balls, wooden or ceramic eggs, (craft shops often carry these) even egg shaped rocks, or ping-pong balls, can be used, so you don't wasted your perfectly good eggs by leaving them for a non-broody hen.

    You don't "stick then under her", though. Just put them in the nest, and wait. If she starts staying on the nest all the time, fluffs up and growls when you approach, and is still there when she shuld be going to roost, you have a broody hen. You can wait a day or two to make sure she's "setting tight", then swap out the fakes with real, fertile eggs.

    Then mark your calendar for 21 days, and wait. Check under her every day or two so that if an egg breaks, you can clean up the mess, (before it starts to reek) put in fresh bedding, and put the rest back in.

    If you had more than one hen, you'd need to mark/date the eggs, (unless you could separate them) but since you just have the one, there's no need to do that.

    DO NOT keep adding more eggs later! Give her a batch of eggs, all at the same time, and let it be. Give her only as many as she can comfortably cover at one time, with none poking out anywhere.

    If she's broody-type breed, you can start saving up her eggs, date them with a pencil, and when you get about 8 or so, depending on how many you think she can cover, start rotating out the oldest egg and replacing with a fresh one. (These eggs, kept at room temp, are perfectly ok to eat.) That way if she goes broody, you'll have fresh eggs to give her. (You do still have a roo, right?)
     
  5. ThePixelMine

    ThePixelMine New Egg

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    Oct 9, 2008
    Spokane, WA
    Thank you all for your responses!

    To answer a couple of questions:

    1. I don't know what breed she is and I don't have any current pictures. I can post that later. She's mostly reddish in color.

    2. She is the only one left. There are no other chickens, hence my curiosity about the possibility of having her hatch her own.

    So, it sounds like my chances of providing her with eggs at the time she's brooding are pretty slim under the circumstances. How would I then go about introducing new chicks to her? I would assume I'd have to do it gradually and under supervision for awhile...but how long? I guess that would depend on her, eh? What's a rough time frame?
     
  6. catfish

    catfish Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:No Roo's? Your never going to hatch those eggs. I also imagine without a Roo the hen will instintively know they're not fertile and will never go broody.

    Better plan on an incubator and getting some fertile eggs from someone here you locally.
     
  7. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:No Roo's? Your never going to hatch those eggs. I also imagine without a Roo the hen will instintively know they're not fertile and will never go broody.

    Better plan on an incubator and getting some fertile eggs from someone here you locally.

    She's talking about using fertilized eggs from someone else's flock.... [​IMG]
     
  8. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:If it's been too long since there were any roo's, she won't be likely to have any fertile eggs now. Some say three weeks. sometimes it can be a bit longer.

    If you're thinking she'll raise chicks she didn't hatch, without having been broody, forget it. She won't do that. She may attack new chicks, or she may ignore them. If you rais ethem until they feather out and don't need a brooder anymore, you can put them in with her. She may be glad to have more chickens again, as they are flock birds, not loners, but she will deliver an occasional peck until they know she's the boss. This is usually nothing to worry about, though, just establishing pecking order.

    Quote:
    Actually, no, they don't instinctively know if the eggs they aren't fertile and refuse to set. A broody hen will set on rocks, ping pong balls, golf balls, fake eggs. Some of my will try to hatch straw.
     
  9. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:If it's been too long since there were any roo's, she won't be likely to have any fertile eggs now. Some say three weeks. sometimes it can be a bit longer.

    If you're thinking she'll raise chicks she didn't hatch, without having been broody, forget it. She won't do that. She may attack new chicks, or she may ignore them. If you rais ethem until they feather out and don't need a brooder anymore, you can put them in with her. She may be glad to have more chickens again, as they are flock birds, not loners, but she will deliver an occasional peck until they know she's the boss. This is usually nothing to worry about, though, just establishing pecking order.

    Quote:
    Actually, no, they don't instinctively know if the eggs they aren't fertile and refuse to set. A broody hen will set on rocks, ping pong balls, golf balls, fake eggs. Some of my will try to hatch straw.

    I am seriously sitting here dying of laughter at the idea that a hen will "instinctively know." It has a brain smaller than a PEA! While it has instincts - it need not be said that it has GOOD instincts, or perfect instincts. They'll try to hatch rocks and golf balls and like Jenny said, straw.

    Once you've seen a broody eat an egg, or a chick, or ruin a hatch (unturned, wet or muddy or pooped on eggs, stepped on eggs and crushed chicks) you'll know nature is all about the parents replacing themselves with enough viable offspring to reproduce and little more. And often some can't reliably do that. Nature is about percentages, often poor ones.

    A good broody is awesome but not omniscient. Even good broodies kill chicks and break eggs and throw out perfectly good eggs at times.

    It's a chicken, not a divine being. We often hatch because we can increase the odds using the thing between our ears and some technology to do better.

    Have a few hens ruin priceless hatches and you won't think of them as anything other than what they are, very pretty often senseless, chickens.
     
  10. IggiMom

    IggiMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2009
    West Virginia
    Well, Walkswithdog, I did get a laugh out of your post.

    That was fun.[​IMG]

    Yup, chickens are our friends. Unfortunately, they are not among our more intelligent friends....

    I am going to give my Black Jersey Giant the opportunity to hatch some--and this is taking a chance, I guess, because they are precious little Serama eggs. But she keeps telling me, YES YES I AM broody I want BABIES!

    So I am putting them under her tonight.

    If she hatches them out I would say it is a pretty fair bet that no one will bother HER babies. This is one BIG Momma!

    A GOOD broody is more reliable than an incubator as it will keep the eggs at the right temp and the right humidity and will turn them faithfully.

    Catherine
     

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