When should I pull the broody eggs? Updated!!


Mar 31, 2010
Southern Illinois
We have a mixed flock with a rooster, and our first broody which is a Buff Orpingon. It's been 21 days since we noticed her sitting on the eggs. At that time their were 12 eggs from the flock. Haven't seen her up often at all. At one point, early on, we noticed 14 eggs, and the broody was up and about an another (barred rock) hen was laying on the eggs in her box. We've been patiently waiting, and hoping for the best. Last night my adult daughter caught her off the nest and noticed another hen (barred rock) in her nest with 26 EGGS!! I guess at least one of the other girls has been laying in the nest box with the broody. This time the other hen wasn't sitting on the eggs, but pecking at one. My daughter shooed it away and removed the pecked egg. The egg had what looked like a mostly to fully developed chick, but it was dead. The broody was back on the eggs right away. So, my question is, do I when should I pull all the eggs from the broody. Should I wait a day or two to see if any hatch? Should I remove them all and place in an incubator? Your help is appreciated.
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I'd be worried about the hen that was pecking at the eggs. Could be when it started to hatch she thought it was food. If it were me I would take at least half and put them in the incubator.

You could try moving her and the eggs to a secure area, but I've heard some broodies will stop sitting if moved. I have little experience with broodies, so hopefully someone with more experience will chime in.
First, You should not allow a broody to be in the same coop with the other hens. The 26 eggs is why. She should be separated to her own area where she can do her job in peace.

A broody hen gets off the nest once a day to eat and drink and unload aka poop.. When she does another hen will get in and lay another egg. Hence 26 eggs.

Since it has been more than 21 days it's likely there were to many eggs for her to successfully hatch. This is most likely the reason there are no chicks.

Also since this has been done, you should pull all the eggs and toss them. It is unlikely you'll know which eggs were first, which were last, or at what stage of development they're at.

Unless you have an incubator and want to mess about and see if you can get any to hatch.

Even though she's sat all this time you could move her now, give her new eggs and see how she does. Please remember to give her privacy, leave her to do her job without being pestered by her sister hens.

Hope things work out

Thanks for the information. I took some earlier advice recieved to not move her once she was broody because it could cause her to stop. I had no idea other chickens were getting in and laying eggs that she quickly covered. As I mentioned she wasn't up often. Once with 12, then once with 14. It wasn't until sometime later that we saw the 26 and realized they were still laying in with her. Our layers are fairly consistant and we were getting our average amount of eggs daily. I'm thinking maybe just one other hen was using her nest to lay in. Thanks again.
I should have suggested that you move her at NIGHT and in the dark . I use a small flash light so it' doesn't upset her. If she has eggs already I might move them too, putting them in a basket with a dish towel. Sometimes she might have started on the wooden egg I keep in all the nest boxes. Be sure she has plenty of space to get up and move away from the nest to eat and poop. Otherwise she'll poop in the nest and that's a big mess. I've made this mistake a couple of times.

Then I move her at night and put the eggs I've selected under her. She doesn't care whose eggs they are she just wanted to sit.

You also want to take the first couple of chicks and put them in a brooder until she is done hatching all the eggs she's going to. Then put the chicks back at night and let her do her thing. Mothering is so cool to watch. Keep her separate from the others cuz the other chickens might hurt the chicks.

Enjoy your broody they are so cool to watch.

Well...we're about a week past 21 days, and nothing. Don't shoot me down until I explain. This was my daughters first broody and since we knew other girls continued laying (started with 12, ended with 26) in her nest we didn't want to pull all the eggs. The thought was the latest laid eggs just reached 21 days. No, we didn't isolate her and her eggs because I was advised against it, because "some will stop brooding if you move them". She had so many eggs under her, that she wasn't able to cover them all. I removed those because I figured they wouldn't develop anyway. Made the mistake of opening one, which was obviously developing until some point. So obviously I need to remove all the eggs. My daughters fear is that we'll toss a viable chick. Couple questions...How many eggs do folks usually put under a broody? Do most folks isolate the hen/eggs? Should I try to break this BOs broodiness? I appreciate any advice, and/or recommendations. Trying to learn from our mistakes. Thanks.
First she's a BO and they are pretty calm birds. Second the advice to NOT move her is not sound. If you move her at NIGHT to a good private location she will be fine. I use a small flash light and move her in the dark for the whole transaction. This can be done after 4 or 5 days of brooding. I use a basket with a small towel to carry the eggs in.

Now I have in the past "marked" the eggs I want her to hatch and each day just remove those not marked, if I have to leave her in the coop. It's a pain and I don't recommend it.

Mark you calender and candle once and only once on day 14 or 15. One can never be sure all eggs are fertile though.

A BO should be able to cover 6 - 8 eggs easily.

If you have a nest box in the coop that is least use like I do you can move her there, if you must leave her in the coop.

Never consider day 21 THE day as they don't all hatch exactly on day 21 nor on the same day. If you have a broodER remove the first couple of chicks and when your sure she is done hatching all the eggs that will hatch tuck them back under her at NIGHT and she should be fine.

Try to keep chicks and mom separate from the other hens. I have Dels and they seem ok if there is enough room in the yard, though other preds may not leave them alone, so a broody pen with small holes might be good.

I wish you the best


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