Waiting for a hen to set... when to give up?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by akamai42, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. akamai42

    akamai42 In the Brooder

    Mar 14, 2011
    I have read a lot of posts and info on this topic, but I would like to see what advice I am given for my specific situation. I have 4 BO hens and one BO rooster, and 2 Pro.Red hens.
    I would really like to hatch a clutch of eggs and got the go-ahead from the Boss. Several of my hens have been sitting on eggs for hours and hours after they lay them, puffing up, giving me the evil eye, etc, so I'm hoping for some latent broodiness. I stopped collecting eggs and let 6 stack up and found a hen sitting on it for the better part of a day! I took two eggs from a neighboring nest box and placed them under her and watched her scoop the eggs in underneath her with the others and settle quite happily on top. An hour later, she just hopped off the eggs and left them alone and hasn't returned to them. Now there are 9 eggs today. They are cool to the touch. Not cold, bec I live in TX and the temps are staying mid 60s to 80s.

    Some info: There are 2 nest boxes inside the coop and the birds have access to a fenced in outside run. I do have a large dog kennel that I thought of using as a "hatching den" to help the hen stay separate, but not sure how to go about it or if that would be wise.

    Now one of the reds has been sitting on 3 eggs in another nest box all day today.

    Here are my questions. First, are the eggs still viable, or do I scrap them and start over? How do I know when the eggs can no longer be hatched?
    Second, what are your suggestions for giving the hens/eggs as good a chance as I can to make hatching a good prospect?

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to read my post and any and all responses I receive!
  2. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Songster

    I would say all of the eggs are still viable. Hopefully she will get back on them soon!

    If your other hen is setting well, you can mark the first eggs and put them under her temporarily until 1st mom gets back to setting... if you have nest eggs (fake eggs) put them in the 1st hens box to tempt her to start setting again... if she does go back to set, give her original eggs back to her. What you don't want is a staggered hatch under the second hen... but even that is doable if you take the earlier hatched babies away from her for a couple of days until she hatches the rest and then sneak them back under mom who actually hatched them. Hope that makes sense.

    As far as moving them to a smaller cage/crate to set and hatch. I have had really good luck doing that and think it is the best way to go... but only if it is an experienced, very broody hen who REALLY wants to set. It doesn't always work as well with a first time broody... she gets upset and refuses to get back on the eggs no matter how nice you have it set up for her.

    As far as any eggs that you think are questionable, candle after about 7 days... you should see veining.

    "Break an egg" with this hatch! [​IMG]

    I DO love my broody hens!

    edited for spelling corrections [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2011
  3. tigtoy

    tigtoy In the Brooder

    Feb 26, 2011
    Maple Ontario
    Try to use fake plastic eggs or a golf ball to check if the hen is really broody and if she stays them maybe you can put the real eggs under her later.
  4. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Songster

    Forgot to say... do any moving of mom & eggs (to a new nesting area) or hatched babies (being placed back under a hen) in the dead of night... seems to work best! [​IMG]
  5. akamai42

    akamai42 In the Brooder

    Mar 14, 2011
    Thank you for the suggestions! Broody #1 was back to sitting on the eggs when I went out today, but I saw the roo go in the coop and the two of them came out together (The broody is the roo's "first girl") so I wondered if he was distracting her. Once I started taking eggs to the new nest site (the dog kennel) she came back in and sat on the nest in a hurry, so I left one egg under her and shut the coop door so the other birds can't bother her. Tonight, I plan to move her to the kennel where I've made the new nest. There are 12 eggs in the clutch that is waiting for her. Does that seem like too many for the first hatching? I know she has to be able to cover all the eggs/chicks in order to hatch them.

    Much appreciated!
  6. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    The "rule" followed by some of us is that a hen has to stay two consecutive nights on the nest, not going to roost, before we consider her truly broody.
  7. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Songster

    Is she a standard size bird? If so, 12 is not too many. I've even had a banty hatch and mother 14 @ once!

    Make the move as quiet and low key as possible.
  8. jenlynn4

    jenlynn4 Songster

    Jan 12, 2007
    I hope she gets in the broody mode for ya!
  9. akamai42

    akamai42 In the Brooder

    Mar 14, 2011
    Thank you all for the suggestions. Same one stays broody all day long but sometime in the late afternoon, she decides to quit for the night and does NOT set, but roosts with the rest of her sisters and Big Daddy. I'm still holding out hope, but am going to the feed store today to get some wooden eggs.
  10. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Songster

    craft store might have decorative wood, plaster or composite eggs... old golf balls work also.

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