Why is it we have such bad luck with our hens sitting on eggs? *UPDATE

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by smalltowngurl, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. smalltowngurl

    smalltowngurl Hatching

    Jun 5, 2010
    Hey guys! I'm new to BYC and came looking for answers. We have always had bad luck when it comes to our hens sitting and hatching eggs. Mothers day we decided to allow our Ameraucana hen who was determined to hatch a brood sit. Last Sunday(May 30th) they where due to hatch, out of 6 eggs only 1 hatched. This always seems to happen to us, why is that? I know the other eggs had to be fertile seeing at the time when those eggs where laid we had two roosters. This isn't the first year something like this has happened.

    Another question I have is this, do hens know if an egg is dead? For example, we have another hen that was sitting on 6 eggs, they are due to hatch one week from tomorrow. Just yesterday when I was peaking under her I noticed there was only five eggs(now this hen had decided to sit on the floor in our coop.) and the other was no where to be found. I was confused, what happend? So today when I was gathering the eggs I looked under her again, and now there was only three! I had noticed an egg outside of the chicken coop this afternoon, it seems she has rolled them out of the chicken coop. The one egg I noticed outside of the chicken coop was cold(no chances of chick being alive), and curious to see if it was spoiled or if the hen was loosing her mind I cracked it open. Inside was an embryo the size of a thumb nail - so it must have died quite a while back. Does anyone know whats going on? Could the hen have known and that was why she had thrown them out? I'd love to know if you have an opinion.

    Looking forward to hearing from everyone. Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
  2. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    Hi and welcome to BYC. Generally lots of good advice to have on this site.

    Having a rooster does not guarantee fertility, and some hens do not accept certain roosters. If you allow your hen to go broody again, give her a mixture of eggs from herself and other hens to sit.

    As to whether momma hens know that certain eggs do not have live embryos, almost certainly they do. I have made a habit of cracking open eggs that the hen has kicked out and found that all have not had viable embryos. Maybe momma hen can feel the live chick moving in the egg when the embryo is of significant size. I am sure others will have either knowledge or theories about this. Sometimes a broody will abandon all her eggs, but that is ALL the eggs and not just kick out a few from under her.

    Hope you enjoy the site and the help from members,

    Good Luck,

  3. SeaHen

    SeaHen Songster

    Mar 14, 2009
    Springfield, OR
    Hi there and welcome aboard. [​IMG]

    Did you candle the eggs that didn't hatch, or did you wait a couple of days to see if some were just late bloomers? My hens have sometimes hatched out eggs over a period of several days. Perhaps they weren't fertile after all? Was there any prolonged period of time that she might have been off her nest? It does seem unusual for a broody to have such a low hatch rate.

    I think hens do know when an egg has died and will kick it out of the nest. It may be the decomposition itself and instinct to avoid contaminating the other eggs that causes them to do that, or maybe they sense there is no life or response in the egg anymore and they don't need it taking up valuable room under them.

    Good luck with your chickies and have a fun time here!
  4. peggym

    peggym In the Brooder

    Aug 10, 2009
    Hi Peg here. I have my blue cochin sitting at the moment, of course right after I got 27 chicks from McMurray, she was sitting on 5 eggs that I marked, now there are only 4 under her. I can't find the other egg anywhere and I've looked all over up at the coop.!!!!!! They should start hatching in 4 days wish me luck!!!![​IMG]
  5. smalltowngurl

    smalltowngurl Hatching

    Jun 5, 2010
    Having a rooster does not guarantee fertility, and some hens do not accept certain roosters. If you allow your hen to go broody again, give her a mixture of eggs from herself and other hens to sit.

    Hmm, interesting on the rooster. I've never heard of that. But for eggs, I believe she was only sitting on one of her eggs, the others we picked to hopefully get pure bred chicks. Seeing we have wellsummer roosters, and several welllsummer hens, we picked the wellsummer eggs. And the only chick that hatched was, a wellsummer! So we got lucky there.

    Did you candle the eggs that didn't hatch, or did you wait a couple of days to see if some were just late bloomers? My hens have sometimes hatched out eggs over a period of several days. Perhaps they weren't fertile after all? Was there any prolonged period of time that she might have been off her nest? It does seem unusual for a broody to have such a low hatch rate.

    We waited. One thing that kinda told me the others where no longer alive was, the day before the chicks where supposed to hatch I could hear pecking on the one egg. But none of the others, so we didn't wait but one day more - with no sound. As for her being off the nest, she was a very dedicated sitter. She did get up every couple days to get some water and food, and during that time others may have gotten into the nest to lay, we always took that egg because the others where marked. She would always be right back in there so I really don't think they got the chance to be cold. But who knows, it's not like I sat out there 24/7 and watched her. [​IMG]

    As for the other hen, it sounds like everyone agree's that she just knew they where dead. How interesting! Thanks for your input everyone!! Good luck with your hen Peg, that's exactly what happened to us, I actually got worried that I had lost my mind and took one of her eggs, I'm now certain I haven't and it's her. [​IMG] I'd be happy to hear everyones thoughts still, so keep them coming!​
  6. Chic Chick

    Chic Chick Songster

    Dec 30, 2008
    East Central Alberta
    Hi and [​IMG]
    Sometimes it's the rooster that isn't breeding all the hens - they do have their favorites and seem to be predjudiced also, so you have to crack open some of the eggs to check and make sure they are in fact fertilized.
    Then if the flock is lacking something in their feed requirements then the hatches will not be as great. A good idea is to give the chickens ACV in the water, and yogurt, and chopped garlic to keep them healthy.
    A hatch can take as long as 3 or more days from start to finish so I'm wondering if you gave those other eggs enough time? Always candle any unhatched eggs when the broody leaves the nest because there might be some late hatchers.
    The hen will roll "dead" eggs out of her nest, and if there are other chickens around they could be eating them.
    I know because I have a broody sitting on a clutch that's hatching right now and there was one chick that had pipped and then died and when I chipped away some of the shell the other hens were right there like sharks to eat the few pieces (even tho they have oyster shells) and yesterday I found a dead chick in the nest but no sign of any shell anywhere. Out of 14 eggs she started with there would be 3 are hatched already and the other 5 have pipped now.
  7. smalltowngurl

    smalltowngurl Hatching

    Jun 5, 2010
    **Update** Well, the araucana hen's chick lived to be a month old, before our dog got to it. [​IMG] Very dissapointing because we where almost positive it was a hen, and pure Wellsummer. It's been a couple days since the chick died, and I believe the hen has gone broody again. I want to allow her to sit, but I want more then one. Does anyone have advice? How many eggs do you think I should but under? Last time it was 6. I'm determined to be successful this time and could use any advice anyone has! [​IMG] Maybe I can check the eggs for fertility?? How can you do this? I think I've seen posts on BYC on this subject but can't seem to find any. Is there a way to check fertility without crack the egg open? I will keep the advice y'all you have already given, thanks again! :]

    As for the other hen, ahhhhh!! So one chick hatched AGAIN out of six(now this was the hen that was throwing eggs out). The chick started hatching the day it was expected too, but wasn't done by that night - so it hatched sometime during the night. But, that next morning it was what looked like dead laying right next to the hen - freezing to death(still wet, the hen wouldn't lay on it.). Somehow it wasn't dead, and I did everything to bring it back to life. I sat in the chicken coop in my pj's next to a heat lamp for at least an hour rubbing the little chicky and warming it up. That chick was so healthy after! IT was a miracle, I tried seeing if the hen would take it but she wouldn't. We had another hen that was broody but we wern't letting sit on eggs(because she kept moving and her eggs just got cold) and so we tried to see if she would take it, and she didn't cluck to it or anything so I didn't do that for long. Finally the chick stayed by itself, it would drink and eat by itself - but it was LONELY! [​IMG] We tried calling farm stores near by to maybe buy a couple chicks to put with it but they where all out. The chick ended up dieing because it got loose and couldn't get back to the heat lamp during the night(He had crawled in with the adults to so he might have gotten killed by them)

    I bring such good news don't it?? -note sarcasim- [​IMG] SO as you can see I NEED HELP! So please if you have advice, let me know.. Looking forward to seeing replies.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
  8. StormyMoon

    StormyMoon Songster

    May 1, 2010
    Alvarado, TX
    Why not just let hens be hens? Maybe when we get in there to much and mess with them the rate goes down?
    I am new to this but I think chickens know more about the whole egg business than we do and I plan to just let mine do what they have to I won't be messing around with them.

    Good luck!
  9. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

    Nov 27, 2009
    Wilmington, NC
    Boy, as my mother would say, it seems you can't win for losing. Some hens are just better mothers than others, it sounds like a couple of your girls may be only fair on the motherhood scale. I suppose you might try getting some eggs from a neighbor that has had good fertility in their flock, and letting your girl hatch them. Shipping eggs having the risks that it does, you couldn't be sure where the problem was if the shipped eggs didn't hatch.

    I'm afraid I don't believe hens know which eggs are good, and which aren't. I have had to pull stinking, rotten eggs out from under some hens, and picked eggs up that somehow "escaped" the nest, warmed them up, candled them, and found them to be still alive. Eggs don't just vanish into the ether; an egg that is no longer in the nest went somewhere. Sometimes that somewhere is some sort of varmint, sometimes there's another chicken or two that are eating them. I hope you get to the root of your problem soon, wishing you many little chickies from this next attempt!
  10. PoultryPeeps

    PoultryPeeps Chirping

    Jul 6, 2009
    Wasilla, Alaska
    I don't know about your welsummers or other birds, but I know Cochins are great mothers! Also my Buff Orpingtons were very good, and went broody frequently. You might try getting one or two cochins for broody purposes. I believe you will have to crack some of your eggs open to tell if they are fertile. It is quite easy to see if the yolk has a 'bullseye' on it or not. Sometimes you have to gently turn the yolk over with a spoon to check the other side. If you find that most have the bullseye, then your hatching chances are good. I have hatched quite a few eggs this year, using both broodys and incubator. My 'moms' have all been great and it is much easier to let them do the work! The babies just pop out all fluffy and fat! My broodys are so dedicated that I have to make them get off the nest once a day for a snack and a drink. I just think some chickens make better mothers. Good luck and don't give up![​IMG]

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