We have a baby!... but have concerns about "broody" mama hen pecking newly hatched chick and unhatch

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by kwphotomom, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. kwphotomom

    kwphotomom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 7, 2017
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    My Coop
    Our hen has been sitting on these fertilized eggs I ordered from a breeder. Had no idea if she would really pull through the full 3 weeks or not, but she has done pretty well and this morning we had a chick hatch! Hatch day came and went on Wednesday, I was just about ready to give up hope of any of them making it. But to my amazement, found this little one hanging out of the shell this morning. Watched it push completely out, then our hen got back on the nest and started pecking at all of the eggs pretty hard, then she started kicking them around the nest forcefully. I swear I could hear soft chirping coming from them once she started doing that. Then she pecked the newly hatched chick and that was it, I scooped the baby up, brought it inside and held it until it fully dried from the warmth of my hands. Once it was dry, I placed it in a small box with a heat lamp and thermometer, it settled in and has been great all day, seems healthy and strong, just a little wobbly when it walks, but it is eating and drinking a little and has even had a poop! But back to the hen concerns...is the egg pecking and kicking of eggs normal behavior? Is that a sign that she might hurt them? I checked on her this afternoon (about 6 hours after the first baby hatched this morning) and she was sitting on the eggs so I didn't disturb her to look at the eggs. I swear I heard peeping in there though. Should I be keeping a very close eye on her as they hatch so I can pull them out before she pecks at them? Or was that "normal" behavior?

    This baby is so adorable, I hope the others hatch successfully!

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  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    To start you have a problem if the hen was off the nest while a chick was hatching----none of mine EVER do that. You did not removed her did you?? I have set a huge amount of broody hens and Never do I bother her/them while they are setting and I have never had this problem----with just 152 broody hens set in 3 years---all 152 never did this, all 152 had great hatches on time, but again I do not bother/upset them while they are hatching. I will add this---if I got a broody hen hatching(meaning its time to hatch or chicks are hatching) and someone was to tilt her to look at the eggs-----I would be so Mad. But I have no idea whats going on with your hatch???
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  3. kwphotomom

    kwphotomom Out Of The Brooder

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    No, I didn't move her off of the eggs. She's been off of them a lot lately so I've been peeking in at her occasionally to see what she is doing, but we never move her, and most of the time she doesn't even know we are looking at her. I've been concerned about her through this entire process, not knowing if she was really "broody" or not. She plucked all of her chest feathers off, was snippy with us when we checked on her (in the earlier stages), and has managed to get them far enough to hatch. But I'm not 100% convinced she's 100% "broody" either. She has pooped on the nest several times, not on the eggs, but on the outer edges of the nest, then steps in it and gets it all over the eggs. She also has continued to lay eggs through the entire 3 weeks. Sooooo, she's doing ok, but I would guess this is not exactly how it usually goes with a broody hen. This is our first time hatching eggs, and we are quite new to chickens in general, so this is quite a learning experience. We started with 6 eggs, one was showing now growth after the first week so I pulled it from the nest, the remaining 5 have grown right on schedule ever since right up through the last time I candled on day 20. Our hen had gotten poop all over them that night so I cleaned them off, otherwise I wouldn't not have candled that day. But, at that point I saw movement in all 5, so she got them really far even if she isn't a true "broody" hen! I'm kind of wondering if I should intervene at this point though to ensure the others hatch. I went out earlier thinking I might pull them out and try incubation for the remainder of their hatch, but of course our hen was sitting on them so I just left them for her to continue caring for them. But I am very concerned about the others hatching and her getting off the nest, I won't know unless I'm out there checking on her often, and I don't want to check on her because I don't want to disturb her which may cause her to get off the nest. Ugh! So unsure of what to do!
     
  4. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    OK, if she has set for 20 some days-----she has gotta be broody. Does she stay on the eggs every night? Broody hens do not continue laying. Is she with other hens---where other hens can get into her nest? If so that's where your extra eggs are coming from. What was the date you set the original eggs under her?? After setting them did you ever notice her off the nest for a long time or for a night? One other thing you mentioned----you said you had a heat lamp for the one chicks---Remember only heat one end of its "brooder" not the food and water end. If you are using a big red heat lamp its Not Needed. Do you a set-up similar to this pic----he only has a 40 watt bulb in it. Make sure under the light is around 95 degree's. I do not trust her----from what you are saying----If the chicks are important and you know how to incubate----I would for sure pull them from her.

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    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  5. kwphotomom

    kwphotomom Out Of The Brooder

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    I am fairly confident she stays on the eggs all night. We don't have any other hens that lay eggs yet (only have one other female and she's a 17 week old Wyandotte who has never laid an egg). Lucky, our hen on the eggs, is in a trough in a temperature controlled room in our garage to keep the Wyandotte chicks (we also have 2 others, both cockerels) away from her and the eggs. She has been separated from them from the day we set her on the eggs, March 29th. She has come off the nest occasionally, but I have no idea how long she's really off. There were a few times we checked on her and she was off, so we took advantage of that time and candled the eggs. A couple of times the eggs were not very warm. Each time we candled (maybe 4 times over the past 3 weeks), she would hurry back on them as soon as we returned them to her nest, puff up and settle in on them. She's done a pretty good job getting them to this point! A side note, we have had her for about 4 months, she started laying a month or so after we got her, and we often found her sitting on the eggs she laid. We never left them in the nest for more than 24 hours, so she never had more than one to sit on, but my son did put ping pong balls in her nest a few times and she would sit on those around the clock, so we felt she would probably do a good job with the eggs if we put them under her.

    We got the Wyandottes as day old chicks just before Christmas, so I'm pretty familiar with how to set up the box for our new babies. Getting proper temp control was a bit of a challenge those first few days, but it's no problem now that we are familiar with our set up. We do have the red lamp, but only half of it is shining on the new baby, the other half is on another box of babies that are about a week old (some day old chicks I ordered from a hatchery that arrived on Tuesday!) I've got thermometers in both boxes and both are holding steady at 95 degrees. The singleton baby can move out of the direct light if it's too warm, and the 5 in the other box have a lot of room to move away from the light if they need to. So far everyone seems content with the temp, they are calm and all spread out throughout the box, not huddled up in a corner together away from the light or directly under the light. I have a tiny medicine bottle cap with electrolyte water in it, and some crumbles on the towel for the baby. I'll put a larger waterer in there once I am confident it won't fall asleep with it's beak in the water! Here is a pic of the set up, hard to tell from this angle, but the baby can go under the flap of the box to get a bit cooler if needed (roughly 5-8 degrees cooler). And I'm home most of the day, so constantly checking on them at least every half hour, haha!

    [​IMG]

    As for pulling the remaining eggs and incubating them...I'm not confident in myself to be completely honest. I have never used an incubator, I would have to go buy one at the store and figure out how to work it! Or use a make shift incubation space with moist towels and a heat lamp. Seems like a lot of work, but I'm willing to do it if it would give them a better chance at hatching. I think I'll go check on her and see how things are going. Maybe I'll pull 2 off and leave her with the other two...maybe she will pull through with those, and if not, maybe the two I pull and incubate will make it. I'll think on that for a while and update later with our plan!
     
  6. kwphotomom

    kwphotomom Out Of The Brooder

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    Checked on her and she stood up to get some petting, then settled back down on the eggs. I didn't get a great look at them, but I'm pretty sure one of them is zipped, and another appeared to rock, and I definitely heard peeping! I left all of the eggs under her, will just check back late tonight or wait until the morning, she got them this far, surely she will do ok with them through the end.
     
  7. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I would just leave them under her then and remove them as they hatch. Why you got the chick in the box by itself? Why not put it in the bigger box with the others?
     
  8. kwphotomom

    kwphotomom Out Of The Brooder

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    Well, I wasn't sure if it was safe to put them together just yet. Could the chicks we had shipped from the hatchery have any illnesses they could give to the newly hatched chick? I've been careful to wash hands before and after handling the new baby. Just figured the new hatchlings might need a few days together before putting them in with the others. Also, the larger box has a greater degree of temperature variation from one end to the other, worried if the new hatch baby stumbled down to the cooler end it might not know how to make it back to the warmer end. But that light placement seems perfect for the 5 that are in there, so I don't want to move it. The end goal is to put them all in a larger box together within a few days.

    I was hoping Lucky would "mother" the babies so they would have a teacher and protector to show them the ropes once they are ready for the big coop, but I'm not holding my breath on that happening, unless she gives me reason to change my mind as the others hatch, I'll be pulling them and putting them in the box. Will update in the morning if not before! Thanks SO MUCH for taking the time to post your thoughts, I REALLY appreciate your help and thoughts!!!
     
  9. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    The baby chick will be fine in the bigger box-----as far as the heat--it will hunt heat if needed. As far as quarantining the new ones----they are only inches apart an a disease could probably get that distance easy. In my opinion your boxes are to small that you got the chicks in for the light you are using, but I already mentioned that so I want push it. Just hope you have checked the temp with a thermometer and hope the babies do not get to hot and hope they have a lot of cool down room. Good Luck
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  10. kwphotomom

    kwphotomom Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 7, 2017
    Oklahoma
    My Coop
    Took your advice and put the new baby in the box with the other week old babies...it did great and seemed to mesh with the others just fine. And good news, we checked on Lucky this morning and found two more babies! One was under her, all fluffed up and happy. The other was still pretty wet and off to the side of the nest alone. I went ahead and removed both of them and brought them inside. The one that was still wet is now dry and in the box with the others pecking at food and taking little drinks of water. All seem happy and healthy, yay! Aren't the new babies cute?!

    [​IMG]
     
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