Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Question for the Chicken People

I placed 5 Black Copper Marans eggs under our broody hen. I collected the eggs for 5 days and then put them under her at the same time. When I returned home from vacation I discovered one egg had already hatched but the others haven't yet and now the hen has left her nest in order to keep up with the new chick that's toting around. By my calculations the entire entire clutch shouldn't hatch for another week. I must have over looked the egg (that hatched) while I was collecting for just this one to have hatched this soon. Errr... I will eventually get this whole chicken thing down but right now, I need some advice. And NO I'm not getting a new hobby! :)

 Will it work by putting the eggs in the incubator after the hen has sat on them this long? When should I just cut my losses? Should I just leave the remaining eggs in the nesting box and see what happens? Has anyone else ever dealt with this before?

The last time the broody hen went broody the same thing happened. There were a few eggs that weren't ready by the time the others had hatched  and again she had to leave the nest to mother the others. About 4 days later I threw the eggs away...cracking one of them. There was an underdeveloped chick inside but it was still alive. Needless to say it died with in hours and I felt really bad.

What to do? What to do?

Anybody out there ready to give a green horn some advice? I might actually listen this time... I promise....maybe.

Seriously knowledge is power and I would like to be able to rectify the situation, so tell me what to do, if you can.


  1. Sounds to me like the egg that hatched had been incubated longer than the rest of the brood. You can try to place the unhatched eggs in the incubator as long as they didn`t get too cold once the hen left the nest. Have you candled the remaining eggs?

    If not, I would candle them first before firing up the incubator. This way you`ll know if the eggs are viable or not. If they are and you decide to incubate I would suggest not using an automatic egg-turner since you`re not sure of when they might hatch. Simply turn them by hand if you wish.

    Hope that helped. Let us know what happens will you?

  2. Feral,
    I think you are right. I must have left it in the nesting box longer than the others. Im really kicking myself. The Hen left the nest yesterday afternoon and I put her and the chick back in it and she was still on it this morning. Im working right now on regulating the temp in the incubator. I know that she can not sit on the clutch until they hatch because she has to take the chick to food and water. So, hopefully this evening I can move the eggs to the incubator.

    I haven't candled the eggs because the Marans eggs are so dark (almost chocolate colored) and almost impossible to candle.

    I dont have an egg turner. Just curious but why should you not use one? :)

    I will keep you posted on what happens next and thanks so much for the advice.

  3. As long as you're asking chicken questions, i have one of my own for both of you - (sorry I have no experience yet with broody hens or incubating my own eggs - just buying day old chicks). Have either of you wormed chickens before? If so, what do you use, how often, and was it effective? I am pretty sure I need to worm mine, and the advice and recommendations on the net varies so much it's hard to know WHAT to do. Also, do either of you use diatomaceous earth (food grade) for your chickens? Thanks, Leigh - and anyone else with chicken advice!

    August 5, 2010 2:18 PM

  4. Dog Hair in my coffee,
    I dont know how much help I will be. I mix about a tbls of DE in the chicken water each time they get fresh water. I think that DE works better for the internal pest verses the external.

    We used it for external pest control. We had a nasty mite problem for a while and I dusted and dusted but it didnt seem to fix the problem. So I ended up stripping out some of the insulation in the coop that the mites had nested in and dusted with seven dust around the eves of the building and the perimeter of the run. I was disappointed in DE at that point but there are other people who swear by it.

    BUT like I said before, I do use it as a natural wormer. A downer to mixing DE into the water is the water gets nasty a lot faster... but I think Im going to try to remedy that with citric acid.

    Try for other Chicken wormers.

    I hope this helps a little. If you need anything feel free to shoot me over an email.

  5. Only thing I know about DE is to be sure and use Food Grade. I put it in the bottom of the next boxes around the edges, ends of the roosts, and around the perimeter of the coop.

    I haven't done any thing with incubating eggs. Just let the hen hatch the eggs. But I have read that not all the eggs are fertile that the hen sits on. Good luck!

  6. Leigh, I know nothing about chickens, but Julia, at Henhouse Pottery is an expert. Have you tried asking her? If you're not following her, I'd recommend her blog. She knows chickens and she's got a great writing style that will entertain and delight! Check it out, there's a link on my blog.