Weekend hatch watch...double broody orloffs, need advice!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by savingdogs, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Chicken newbie here ready to have my first mama-hatches-eggs with my year-old hens.
    So I have these two Russian orloff hens who went persistently broody together a few months ago, literally (they are thin). I had to arrange an area for them which took me some time to figure out. I put them in the seperate little house together on their nest boxes, which is where they have been sitting on their eggs. They have always been the best of friends and are shunned by the rest so they like being isolated and their spot is actually shady and nice. So FINALLY their moment is coming....they have been daydreaming about chicks for awhile now I think and have their dream home.

    I have these questions:

    1. Could they abandon nest number two when nest number one hatches possibly? Is there anything I could do for those eggs if so short of buying an incubator? Do have ice chest, heat lamp, brooder stuff, etc.

    2. Will they peck at the chicks from the other bird? They have switched nest boxes several times so I don't know how territorial they feel about the boxes but they may feel different about the chicks. They are non-violent and just let the main flock chickens peck at them all the time when they are with the flock so I can't really picture these two being that way.

    3. How do I transition them from nest box to something they can get in and out of easily to get to their food and water. Do I wait until they all hatch first? Won't mama squish the hatched ones?

    4. One egg was kinda thrown out by one of the hens and was way, way across the enclosure like they didn't like it...does that mean anything? I have not candled the eggs. I could tell by the color it was an egg I wasn't as sure about (possibly a duck egg). When I cracked it it seemed to have been developing.

    5. One egg cracked and broke in the nest and dirtied some of the others. Will this nest still hatch? This is the nest that is set to hatch Sunday. It was already all dried so there was no wiping the yolk off or anything. A few were still clean.

    6. I've already got chick starter in there and will set out my chick waterer, is there anything else I need to put out for them?

    7. Just as an aside, I think I may have one more muscovy egg in nest number two. Sounds dumb but the ducks just started laying and I thought those two were just dirty buff orpington eggs that had gotten a little sunbleached as they were laying in the grass. After a couple of days I realized the ducks were laying! Since then I've learned to tell the difference. I was desperate to find enough eggs for bird number two once I set the first ten under bird number one so I wasn't as picky as I would have liked to have been. This is also why I was asking about finishing in an impromptu incubator, I realize muscovy would take longer. Not sure what i'd do with one duckling but perhaps it could be mothered by the orloffs.

    To complicate things further, we have a big event planned for Saturday and won't be home for part of the day, I should have looked on the calender when I set the eggs under the first bird. So we may miss the first hatches. Also the eggs under the first nest are mostly buff orpington as I had a dozen hatching eggs saved but the next ones are just whatever was being laid that day, BO and RIR crosses mixed. So nest number one is more important to me. None of the eggs are actually orloffs (they were not laying, they were broody).

    Thanks in advance for any advice!
     
  2. VioletandBodie

    VioletandBodie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i cant answer you ?'s but i can say good luck! with what ever happens
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I don't think there are any easy answers to your questions. I'll try.

    1. Could they abandon nest number two when nest number one hatches possibly? Is there anything I could do for those eggs if so short of buying an incubator? Do have ice chest, heat lamp, brooder stuff, etc.

    It is possible. That is one of the risks to having two broodies with different due dates. You can possibly remove the chicks as they dry off and put them in a brooder. That might keep at least one hen on the nest, hopefully both. It should not matter to much if the chicks are under the hen for a while. Just do the best you can. If one comes off the nest but the other stays, can you put the one that comes off with the chicks away from the nesting area? It may not be a problem at all or it may be a big problem.

    2. Will they peck at the chicks from the other bird?

    They might, or they may work together as a great team in raising them together. Or one hen may take all the chicks away from the other. There is no real way to tell what will happen.

    3. How do I transition them from nest box to something they can get in and out of easily to get to their food and water. Do I wait until they all hatch first? Won't mama squish the hatched ones?

    Chickens have been hatching chicks for thousands of years without close human intervention. Wait until the hatch is finished. They are living things and anything can happen, but it is highly unlikely any will get squished. Chicks can go two or three days without food or water. Mama will bring them off when it is time. Just have food and water on the floor where mama can show the chicks how to eat and drink. Mine normally just sleep on the floor of the coop after they leave the nest and do not try to get back in the nest. However, that can happen. I suggest just play that part by ear and let Mama handle it. A box with an open side is often appreciated by the mama hen though.

    4. One egg was kinda thrown out by one of the hens and was way, way across the enclosure like they didn't like it...does that mean anything? I have not candled the eggs. I could tell by the color it was an egg I wasn't as sure about (possibly a duck egg). When I cracked it it seemed to have been developing.

    I'm not sure what it means. Some people will tell you that those eggs are bad, yet bad eggs are left in the nest and sometimes eggs that are kicked out are developing nicely and will hatch if you put them in an incubator. I think it just means that the egg was accidentally kicked out, but there could be some significance other than you need a higher lip on your nest box. I just don't know.

    5. One egg cracked and broke in the nest and dirtied some of the others. Will this nest still hatch? This is the nest that is set to hatch Sunday. It was already all dried so there was no wiping the yolk off or anything. A few were still clean.

    Some will probably hatch, but some might not because of that. The risk is that the dried egg on the shell will cause bacteria to get inside the egg shell. I'd just leave them.

    6. I've already got chick starter in there and will set out my chick waterer, is there anything else I need to put out for them?

    I don't think so.

    7. Just as an aside, I think I may have one more muscovy egg in nest number two. Sounds dumb but the ducks just started laying and I thought those two were just dirty buff orpington eggs that had gotten a little sunbleached as they were laying in the grass. After a couple of days I realized the ducks were laying! Since then I've learned to tell the difference. I was desperate to find enough eggs for bird number two once I set the first ten under bird number one so I wasn't as picky as I would have liked to have been. This is also why I was asking about finishing in an impromptu incubator, I realize muscovy would take longer. Not sure what i'd do with one duckling but perhaps it could be mothered by the orloffs.

    Depending on how it all works out, you can probably give all the chicks to one hen and let the other raise any ducks that hatch. I currently have 15 chicks with one hen. As warm as it is, I would have no problem letting her raise 18. If you take the chicks out of the second nest as they dry off and give them to the first hen (I understand only 2 days different between the hatches) she should accept them.

    I think you are in for a few rough days. It may all work out and it may not. I know I've given you some conflicting advice but it is a difficult situation. Just do the best you can and chalk it up to a learning experience. There is no doubt you will do better next time and you may get out of this pretty good. I really think you will do well with that first batch or Orpington chicks especially which are your more important. Hope this helps some.

    Good luck!
     
  4. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yes, Ridgerunner that was very helpful! Thanks for your response. I'm not so worried about not being home Saturday now.

    Your advice was not conflicting, I see there might be different ways to handle things depending on how things work with the two of them. I suspect that these two will do everything together because that has been their personality since I got them. I was at first thinking that my sides were too high on my nest but then see that I might have lost more eggs that way. I wish I had known the egg might still be good and put it back under the chicken....I was thinking mother hen, in her wisdom, knew what to do, and of course hens very rarely have wisdom, do they?
    We already lost one of these orloffs because it flew directly into the mouth of a dog sitting patiently on the other side of a tall fence.
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I had two sisters hatch out together, they raise them together. One hen, went into the box on the floor, and the first few days, all the chicks slept with her, the other hen, went back into her nest. Now though they are able to fly, and she will have several chicks in with her, while some chicks stay with the floor mother.

    They are three weeks old today and with the flock. They do get a lot of free ranging.

    Mrs.K
     
  6. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Well they are hatching right on schedule! When my son got home and checked them, they were hatching and both birds were trying to get into the nest with the hatching chicks. We moved the eggs that were still left to the same nest with them both, but for a little while they were out from under a bird. At least three chicks seemed to have made it and one more is kinda bloody so we don't think it will make it out of the shell alive. I'm hoping for a few more before all is said and done as I started with 19 eggs and I can only account for what happened to 8. We only got a quick look at how many eggs are left under them but some obviously did not hatch, at least when we checked (which was exactly 21 days to the hour from when I put them in there).

    Hopefully I can get some pictures of my first little survivors for you tomorrow or Monday!
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010

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