Hen setting on eggs...

southerngardengal(z7bMS)November 6, 2005

I have a hen that has decided to set on four eggs....I knew she was acting broody but DH had been picking up the eggs for me in the afternoon and I didn't know until today that he had left four under her.....

It is extremely warm here right now but that could change any time....About a week ago it was in the low 30's with frost every night...The nests aren't closed to the weather.

Do you think she will hatch? I am not too worried about the chicks because I can always remove them if need be and bring them to a warmer place.

The biggest thing is we have six nests and all the hens want to lay in the same one...And that is the one this hen is setting on...

Also, do the eggs usually hatch when it is this late in the year?


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Hens can hatch eggs this time of year if they are good setters. However, if other hens are laying in the same nest you probably won't get any to hatch. Usually, at the worst, the ones you want to hatch get rolled out from under the hen as the others come and go. at the best they get stepped on and get dirty and then don't hatch. If you want these chicks move the setting hen at night to a small plastic animal carrying crate with her eggs. Keep the door shut and only let her out a couple of times a day for food, water and to defecate. Leave her out for about 10 minutes each time and then put her back into the crate. After a couple of days she should settle back down and be happy to continue setting on her eggs. Then you can leave the door to the crate open. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2005 at 11:31PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Great advice from Marby, about the only thing I'd add is to mark the eggs you want to hatch so you don't get them confused with newly laid eggs--use a pencil and just put an X on each egg--and to isolate the setting hen and her eggs, as the other hens may become jealous and/or excited over the eggs as they are about the hatch and the chicks begin peeping (it's surprisingly loud!) and any fighting over who gets to sit on the eggs could result in broken eggs or dead chicks. I had a mama hen with two chicks, at seven days old there was a battle between mama and other hens over the babies and the chicks died because of it--I learned my lesson the hard way. :( I thought they were OK because up until then things had been fine.

My hens go broody willy-nilly at all times during the year, and will hatch eggs and raise chicks just fine--but I am in southern California and we don't have the howling winter storms that other areas do--we DO get plenty of 30 degree and below nights and rain, though. I'd say go ahead and allow her to set if you want chicks, but also be prepared to take over as mom if she decides to abandon the chicks or needs help from you.

Have fun! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   November 6, 2005 at 11:44PM
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Thanks for the help. I marked four eggs and we will gather any others. I did have a hen setting this summer and we had to gather the eggs from the other hens all the time momma was on the nest. We only had 4 out of the 8 eggs hatch. Like I said we have 6 nests. Why they all want the same nest is beyond me...


    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 10:23PM
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Miss_Kitty(6a KY)

I've been thinking about this topic as well. Though I'm wanting a few extra chickens and it's a duck that's setting.

My hens have focused on a cardboard box that was on the other side of the barn. Now I moved it to the coop, and they are still using it. I have ten very nice nests, enough for the chickens and the ducks!

I think it's odd what a chicken finds attractive in a nest.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 7:58PM
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ohiorganic(5/6 SW Ohio)

i have found if you leave the broody in the coop with the others the likelyhood of getting chicks is really low as the other hens will lay eggs in her clutch, they will break the clutch eggs and often they will scare the broody hen off of her nest fpor hours on end.

I do a lot of pastured poultry so we almost always have an empty chicken tractor so I put broodies setting on eggs in the chicken tractor with water and food.

Now, when a hen broods she goes into a kind of hibernation or coma. She will not eat more than once a day and often once every 3 days. She will poop every other day or so and those poops are referred to as cleaning poops (and they are generally impressive).

The cold weather should not be an issue as the hen is a very precise instrument when it comes to incubating eggs-there is no better incubator on the planet. And she will also keep the biddies warm after hatching. Though you will probably be surprised to see 3 day old chicks running around in subfreezing weather-this is OK. When they get too cold they will run back to Mom and dive into her feathers and warm up.

Keep the hen and her brood separated from the others until she gets tired of motherhood and kicks them out of the nest. At that point she can go back with the others. The biddies should wait until they are at least 50% full grow before they go in with the rest so they have the strenghth to keep up with the adults. Otherwise, the other hens may kill them.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 6:50AM
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The other hens are usually sitting in the nest to lay and so is the broody hen. I don't think but one is laying now since we are only getting one egg a day or it could be two. Each one laying every other day. The eggs look the same but I have two hens that look identical. It is so weird to me that they pick out one nest and won't use the others.

I watched my silkie (the one unfortunately killed by dogs who tore into her pen) with her chicks. Everytime I went out to check on them she would be giving one of the chicks a piggy back ride. And if the chicks were startled they would flutter up on her back until things settled back down. She (Momma Hen) was white and the chicks had her back so dirty she looked like she had been rolled in mud.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 6:23PM
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Marby gave the best advice. Find a place that is dark, small, and draft free that will serve as a brooding place once the chicks are hatched. Take the hen and the four eggs and move them, isolated away from the other chickens. If you leave her in with the others and some hatch by accident, they will be immediately killed and eaten by the other hens as soon as they get the chance.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2005 at 12:56PM
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i hav a broody hen and she has been sitting on the eggs for almost 3 weeks on the 2nd week we moved her out of the chook pen and in a large doghouse and when were home we leave the door open so she can defeciate and 2day the 20th day she got off to poo and got lost for 2 hrs will the chicks be ok? plz respond asap

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 7:40AM
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I think the chicks will be fine. A similar thing happened to me--I moved the hen and the eggs at night, about 3 days before hatch. Next morning she was off the eggs, I don't know how long. I did move her and the ggs back to her preferred spot, she was happy and the eggs hatched.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 8:08AM
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thanks claraserena 2day is the 21st day and only 1 has hatched but im still happy more might harch later on thanks for the help i was worried

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 1:29AM
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Glad you have a chick! Let us know how the rest goes!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2007 at 8:39AM
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I have a broddly hen that siting on her nest under a a tree scared something going to eat her or something going to eat the egg but scared for her life what should i do

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 7:51AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

If she is in an unprotected area where predators can get her, move her and her nest into the coop. If she is not sitting on eggs or you don't want her to go broody, you can try and break her brood by either putting her in a wire-bottomed cage for a few days or lock her away from her chosen nest area--but she may just decide to nest where she's at. More here, scroll down to 'Broody Hens':


Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 6:39PM
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How big of a clutch of eggs can a hen sit on to hatch? I have a hen that "disappeared" a few weeks back. Well, I found her in a shed and she was sitting on a clutch of 25 eggs!!!..yes, you read right--25 eggs!! I don't know how long they have been there or if they're any good or what. I had suspected she was laying somewhere... just didn't know where until today. When she discovered that I had found her she quickly fled the nest and she hasn't come back to it... so, will the eggs be ruined?
Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am new to chickens
Thanks in advance,

    Bookmark   September 8, 2011 at 11:22PM
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jpatti(z6 PA)

When we have a hen go broody, we move her and the clutch to a small cage, like the size for a pet rabbit, sticking a few extra eggs under her during the move.

That way we can feed and water her without the others bothering her at all.

After she hatches, we put her in a larger cage (made out of PVC pipe and chicken wire with a few crossbars for stability (and for her to get away from the chicks) on pasture and move it daily. We let the mom out when she wants to be left out, but keep the chicks in a bit longer, until they get to what we call the "fugly" stage, when they're not cute chicks but not adult chickens either (chickens have an awfully awkward adolescence).

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 12:16PM
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