broody hen update : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

A couple of weeks ago I asked about how much damage the hen would do by leaving the nest for a while. I also told about cleaning eggs of yolk after one of them broke. This was on the advice of my local mentor, the Gail Damerow book and a private email after the fact that the yolk would seal the pores of the egg and prevent the exchange of air through the shell if not removed.

Anyway, at this moment the hen has hatched 6 chicks and there are 3 eggs left. I candled them before dawn. Two transmitted light while the third did not, indicating from some pictures I found in The Easy Chicken that the third contained a chick. Now whether it is alive or not, only time will tell. However, I've been fascinated by the process with the pipping noises as the chick attacks the shell, how the chick's head as it develops is in the right position to break out at the middle where the shell is thinnest and how the chicks begin to develop to hatch about the same time even though the eggs were laid on different days. Just all too mind boggling and amazing. Ain't Mother Nature grand?

-- marilyn (, May 11, 2000


Wonderful! I think chicks hatching is very special, too. About 10 years ago, we had a lot of little chicks being hatched (we had a lot of chickens!). One hen moved her chicks out of the nest before the eggs were all open, though. I checked and there was one egg left in the nest, so I just picked it up and held it in my hands and then under my jacket...not sure what made me decide to do that. Then just for no reason again, I started making little peeping sounds at it and was surprized to hear peeping back! Sheesh! So this little chick and I had quite a conversation! He started pecking away at the shell, so I went into the house, got a cardboard box and rigged up a little light bulb. I put the egg in the box under the light and watched with fascination. I also cheated and helped him break out of the shell after a while. Anyway, it all was a happy ending, and I named him "Hatch"! First time I had ever been a midwife (mid-hen?) to a chicken....last time, too, actually! We ended up having to give him to a friend when we decided to move and build a house. He had a great life with her anyway!

-- sheepish (, May 11, 2000.

Marilyn, Thanks for letting us know your happy ending. We have a momma hen running around with 6 of her chicks right now. They are a real treat to see. We have gotten our share of mail order chicks and although they do fine in my heart I have to believe they are happier raised by their mom's. I know people argue it doesn't make money sense to let a hen hatch chicks, but the joy of homesteading is being able to do what is joyful! Kim

-- kim (, May 12, 2000.

Marilyn, Congratulations on your brood! How wonderful that things turned out so well!

Kim, I agree about hen-raised chicks, but I can't have a rooster, so I don't like to hatch eggs. (Hatched seven once, six were roosters.) But I get the feed-store chicks the day they come in, wait until night, then pop them under a broody hen. When she wakes up, her eggs have hatched so she's happy, and the chicks have a mom, so they're happy too. Also, I find it to be a lot less hassle to let a hen raise the chicks running around the yard than for me to deal with maintaining a brooder.

-- Laura Jensen (, May 12, 2000.

Marilyn, Are you telling us that the eggs you washed hatched just fine? This is valuable information! How hard did you wash them and did you use any soap, etc? Many times I have NOT washed eggs I didn't like the looks of- maybe I will from now on. Thanks for telling us and congratulations!

-- Peg (NW WI) (, May 12, 2000.

Hi Peg. I just used a slightly wet piece of terry towel to rub the yolk off, no soap, then dried the egg and put it back in the nest. I worked quickly since I didn't know if the moisture evaporating would draw heat from the eggs. I was also careful to rub the cloth on the egg, not the egg on the cloth. I couldn't imagine the jostling helping the chicks any.

The hen left the nest this morning and I removed the remaining eggs. Just out of curiosity, I broke them OUTDOORS. The two eggs were just runny yolk but the third did indeed have a small dead chick. The 6 are growing almost before your eyes.

-- marilyn (, May 12, 2000.


I once used a stethoscope to check some eggs I thought might still hatch. I could hear movement in the ones still alive.

I have had a hen setting in the first nest box in the hen house. One morning she had moved to the second nest box. How odd, I thought till I spotted the two LARGE snakes snoozing behind the nests! I called my mom from town to come and help. She's much better at identifying snakes then I am. She declared them non-poisonous and the reptile rodeo bagan! Between the two of us, we managed to get them out of the chicken house and into a large trash can with the lid duct taped on! (The difference in the doing and the telling would take up too much space to describe!) They wound up being better than six feet long each! We put the trash can in the back of the pick-up and relocated them to a place where we will all be much happier!

I have to say I admire that hen! A huge snake crawled under her, ate her eggs, crawled over and around her while we trying to catch it, and she never moved from her spot!

-- Mona (, May 15, 2000.

Marilyn, what a great story. I don't have chickens yet but that is on the agenda for this fall or next spring. I hadn't really decided to get a rooster so I could raise chicks but your story just made me want to try it.

Kim, I agree, to me, homesteading is just for the sheer joy of it.

-- Colleen (, May 17, 2000.

After my hens have been sitting for about two weeks I gently shake the eggs. If they "rattle" they are bad. If you weed out the bad ones at this stage it helps to eliminate the problem of cleaning bad broken egg off the rest of the nest. I put my hens separate from the other girls so that new eggs are not added and eggs don't get broken because someone else wants the nest. It also helps to write the date she started sitting on the eggs with permanent marker, so you know when to start looking for chicks.

-- Leslie ann Rigley (, May 17, 2000.

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