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Multiple Broodies

 
Alison Thomas
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I have one hen who has been sitting for a week on UNfertilised eggs (we don't have a cockerel at the moment). Yesterday morning a friend came round with fertilised eggs for her so as soon as Miss Broody went out for a quick snack, I moved in to replace exchange the eggs. However our little brown hen had moved in to cover them and was VERY annoyed at me for moving the eggs. She's been spending a long time doing her laying for a week or so, as has another hen who also spent all day yesterday and so far today sitting and fluffing up at me and swearing when anyone goes in the hen house. So I think I have 3 broodies - I'd heard it was catching. Today the original broody (a Maran) and the little brown hen are side-by-side in the nest box on the fertilised eggs. The other one is in another nest box still on unfertilised eggs.

We were getting ready to move the Maran into 'special quarters' - a private next box out of the hen house but still in the coop with a little covered run attached to it. But I'm not sure what to do for 3 of them. Do I just leave the two hens to share the hatch? Do they all need a separate area? I've never done a hatch before (only some ducks in an incubator).
 
Ken Peavey
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Hard to find anything more comical than a broody hen. There's a good chance they will hatch those fertilized eggs if they each have their own clutch. For those two girls, they will each set a clutch, even if they are close together. Give them a towel for privacy. It may be necessary to mark the good eggs. The girls can keep on laying eggs all the while. I had one foolish hen set on a couple of dozen fertile eggs for over a month. She rotated them with great care, but there were too many eggs...when they were rotated to the outside they cooled down and died. 6 is about right. Take away any new eggs that show up, you'll probably get some chicks.

 
Alison Thomas
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Goodness - sitting on 24!!!

I marked all 12 fertilised eggs with a pencil cross in case any 'rogues' got in.

And do they need an area away from the other 7 that are not broody. They all free-range our 2.5 acre garden so it's not as if the other 7 are bothering them - other than to come in and lay an egg (hopefully, since that's 3 good layers now sitting). I was just a bit worried for when they hatch - the chicks will probably need some protection from crows and our cats (though our cats are scared of the hens actually). If they need to go into a seperate run then I thought it might upset the mums if I move them too close to hatch date??
 
Ken Peavey
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Sometimes a non-broody hen will boot the broody hen out of her nest long enough to lay an egg in there. Another reason to mark the fertile eggs. Other than that the normal girls will leave them alone.
Once hatched, those mother hens will keep an eye on the chicks. If the cats are leaving the hens alone, they'll probably leave the chicks alone. Cows usually don't give the chicks a second thought.

12 under one hen is too many. 24 will end up stinky in a couple weeks. Go with 4-6.
 
Tyler Ludens
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One of my broody hens decided the 2 week old chicks of another hen were her own after the chicks started sleeping in her nest box with the eggs. She abandoned the eggs and went off with these fabulous giant chicks she "just hatched".....Fortunately I have another broody hen I was able to move the eggs under, and yesterday there were two chicks hatched.
 
Alison Thomas
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Ken Peavey wrote: Cows usually don't give the chicks a second thought.



Good job we don't have cows then!!!
 
Jay Green
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You will have a more successful hatch if you divide the eggs between them, separate the hens from the flock into their own private space, each to their own nest.
 
Alison Thomas
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Thank you all for your kind replies. Each hen now has her own nest box and her own fertilised eggs. I had 12 eggs under the original broody (sharing with Mrs Brown) so, following your experienced advice, I'd decided to give them all 4 each. However when Mrs Maran got off the next today for a quick drink, there were only 11 eggs. Is there something that will steal eggs from under a broody hen?
 
Jay Green
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Possibly...but it's more likely she has eaten one. Sometimes they get damaged and the hen will eat it. Sometimes~a few more days into the hatch~a hen will eat the eggs that are not fertilized/developing.
 
Alison Thomas
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Oh yikes, really? I guess she'd attack anything that came close to her precious brood.
 
Jay Green
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When dealing with chickens you can imagine all sorts of the worst kinds of things when things go wrong but more often than not it's the more common things that have occurred rather than the big, infrequent things. I've had chickens off and on for over 35 years and have never had an egg snatched from under a broody by a mystery predator. I have, however, on numerous occasions had broodies that cleaned up nature's mistakes or misfires when it comes to clutched eggs.

Some folks also assume that the hen is cannibalizing her eggs/brood but there is always a reason for why they do it and, IME, it has never been because I have an "egg-eater". Never had one of those in my flock~ever.

No worries...just let her do what she do and it will all turn out right.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I put a couple broody hens in the same coop, with individual nests. Once one of the hens had hatched 9 chicks, she started attacking the hen who was still setting, scattering the eggs and smashing some. She did this about four times before I removed her, and left her chicks with the remaining broody hen.
 
Alison Thomas
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Oh goodness! Well my girls all got their eggs given to them at exactly the same time as each other so I'm hoping that they all hatch more or less at one time over a few hours. Is that hoping for too much?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Hope for the best, but be prepared for what might happen.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Gratuitous pic of our new chicks:

 
Jay Green
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That's sweet!! I love pics of hens and chicks....it never gets old to me. I agree with Einstein when it comes to miracles!
 
Alison Thomas
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Awww Tyler, that's gorgeous - I love those tender moments.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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