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Letting a broody hen set on eggs--Wish her luck!

 
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We culled our rooster earlier this year. However, we now have a broody hen. She's actually taking eggs from other nesting areas and rolling them under herself. She had a hoard of 14 eggs at one point!

We tried removing her from the nest. We tried dunking her. Nothing worked.

So....we bought some fertilized eggs. She is setting on them right now. Expected hatch date--May 28.

Wish her luck!! :)
 
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Exciting! Good luck!
 
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Yes good luck! I'm glad you made the effort to get her eggs.

Today a friend whose Banties live on my farm now, gave one of them 4 eggs and the experienced mom 11 eggs, so we'll have chicklets due at the same time.
 
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Sounds like fun. I tried letting some hens hatch out some eggs recently. They are about a week old now. There were a lot of things I learned during the process, but one that stands out as something I just never even thought of. Once the chicks are hatched, the majority of the time they will abandon the nest and find a new clean spot. Makes sense now, but at the time I hadn't thought about removing the old nesting material, shells, and a couple unhatched eggs.
 
Jay Angler
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Matt McSpadden wrote: Once the chicks are hatched, the majority of the time they will abandon the nest and find a new clean spot.

Yes - there are a *lot* of good reasons for this, so it's strongly in a bird's "instinct file" which I try to respect as much as possible. (by bird, I refer to chickens and Muscovy as they're the ones I'm experienced with.
1. The longer a bird is in any one spot, the greater the risk some predator will find it.
2. The hatch process is messy and can attract flies, disease, and predators.
3. The bird under wild conditions will have been coming off the nest to eat/drink at least some of the time, so it makes sense to move to new food sources with a family to feed.

How do I deal with this: I try to set my hens/ducks in a cube about 4 ft by 4 ft by 40 inches tall - shorter and I find it a nuisance to service them. This keeps them safe from most of the predators I worry about. When they hatch, I have some 4ft by 8ft floor-less hoop houses that have hardware cloth at one end so they can see the world, a pop-door for when I feel mom is ready to take them out into that world, and a hanging feeder and a waterer. Depending on the size of mom +, it gets moved daily or every 2 days. I use my judgement - once they're "outside" of it most of the day, it may stay in one spot for as much as 3 days if there's only a few birds. Last year, I had some infrastructure problems, and had moms go broody I wasn't expecting to, so mom's and chicks actually had a *really* big move to a friends property. She loved having the cute chicks to watch and was thrilled to help. She couldn't keep extra chickens, but loved having them while they were small.

As you said Matt - this concept made sense when you thought about it, but I add this to the thread for people reading it who have not had experience with it yet.
 
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Howdy!
Thank you for mentioning this! I hadn't gotten beyond wondering if my girls are going to actually hatch out some chicks (I put them on goose eggs and it turns out that at least one gander and one goose are fertile, which really makes me wonder about what to do with a potential 5 goslings. Huh.

I have been thinking about moving the Broodies into better spots, like a protected box, but haven't built anything yet. Drat my forgetful mind!
I will make an effort to make them a safe space so they might get through this in safety. If they have the patience to hatch those eggs, I definitely want to make sure they are able to raise their own eggs later.
 
Stacie Kim
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Two hatchlings

Don't know if this link will work, but it's worth a try. If it doesn't work, I'll upload it to YouTube and edit the link.

Like clockwork, this is Day 21 of my broody mama's efforts, which have paid off very well. So far we've got 6 hatchlings. We suspect there may be more? But she's gone from Broody Hen to Full Beast Mode Mama and will not let anyone get close enough to inspect her chicks.

The above video shows the first two hatchlings. I was able to capture this quick video while Mama took a food/water/poop break.

Let the fun begin!!
 
Jay Angler
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Congratulations Kim, you're a Grand-chicken-mother!

My friend's banties were pipping when she checked this morning, but later were having a rest break. Magic's on 11 eggs and this morning there were 3 pipping. Waiting impatiently!
 
Stacie Kim
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Congrats to you too, Grandma Jay!! :)
 
Jay Angler
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Stacie Kim wrote:Congrats to you too, Grandpa Jay!! :)

Actually Stacie, if you check my profile, I'm actually a Lady Jay!  I know in North America it's more commonly a guy name, so don't feel bad.

At 5 pm Pacific time, Magic had 4 fluff-balls out, 4 more pipping, and we candled the last 3 eggs and decided that 2 were duds, but the 3rd still had movement inside so there's hope it might make it. Yipppeeee!!!

Now if only I can get my stubborn Muscovy mom to accept the safe nest spot and 4 goose eggs I'd *really* appreciate her incubating and raising for me, I'll be extra happy. She refused last night, but has spent the whole day on her old nest. I will try again tonight. I've got some actual Muscovy eggs I can give her if she doesn't settle tonight, buy she *has* to move - her current nest spot just isn't safe.
 
Kristine Keeney
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Howdy!
Generalized update:
As of last Thursday, my broody Dorking hen hatched out 2 goslings. The first one out died (anything from failure to thrive to panicky chicken reactions), but I was able to pop the second egg, still pipping, and adoptive Mom into a tote and moved her into the guest room.
I am the proud and happy grandma to a very precocious "chickling". Baby goose has become quite attached to his very protective and proud Mama, and has been taught how to scratch, which it's terrible at, and how to dust bathe.

The other broody hens gave up their nests around the same time, but at least one goose is feeling maternal.
I have gone through and gotten rid of all the old eggs I could find, so I hope that anyone deciding to start a family does so soonish.
 
Stacie Kim
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Jay Angler wrote:

Stacie Kim wrote:Congrats to you too, Grandpa Jay!! :)

Actually Stacie, if you check my profile, I'm actually a Lady Jay!  I know in North America it's more commonly a guy name, so don't feel bad.



My apologies!! I edited my post to show the correction. Good luck with your Muscovies! I've only been around Muscovies in public park settings, so I don't have any actual experience with them. But I have always thought they were gentle, well-tempered birds. I hope you have good success with raising them.

Kristine, Congrats on your babies too! Goslings are adorable!!
 
Kristine Keeney
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Howdy!
Today's pictures - I put in the cement half block to elevate the food and water.
Those two are just too adorable. I love that Hattie (I know she's pale and looks a bit ragged. She's still recovering from her long set.) is being such a good Mom. I hope to have some Dorking chicks from her later this year, and it will be gratifying to see her raise them.

I really like Muscovies, in general. They are interesting and fascinating birds, have lots of fun trivia about them, and some good friends of mine have become part of a small semi-domesticate flock over in Austin. They will sit on their dock and the flock will come over to sit with them.  Being adopted by Muscovies is one of those things you really want to see more of in the world.

I hope your weekend is going well, Stacie Kim. We're greatly enjoying ours!
IMG_20210529_162355751.jpg
Mom and Chickling being too sweet for words
Mom and Chickling being too sweet for words
 
Jay Angler
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I figured the only easy way to count the chicks was to take a few pictures, and put them up on my big screen!
Magic-s-chicks-May-2021.JPG
[Thumbnail for Magic-s-chicks-May-2021.JPG]
 
Stacie Kim
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Awwwwww! I love these little baby photos! It's like we claim them as our own flesh and blood, LOL!

I was able to get a better count, and we have 7!!! All 7 were out today, eating well and running back to Mama's wings whenever they needed. She's such a good Mama.

She still had three left unhatched as of today. When we got home from worship service this afternoon, one of the eggs was left out and cold to the touch. Not feeling optimistic about it, we buried it to avoid predators. She's still setting on two eggs. We'll give them until Monday afternoon before we give up.

I have a quick video of two chicks:

 
Kristine Keeney
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What a beautiful mix!
I love my Dorkings, it's always nice to have a more or less predictable bird, but the mixed flock is just too much fun!
You have gorgeous chicks!
 
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Stacie Kim wrote:Two hatchlings

Don't know if this link will work, but it's worth a try. If it doesn't work, I'll upload it to YouTube and edit the link.

Like clockwork, this is Day 21 of my broody mama's efforts, which have paid off very well. So far we've got 6 hatchlings. We suspect there may be more? But she's gone from Broody Hen to Full Beast Mode Mama and will not let anyone get close enough to inspect her chicks.

The above video shows the first two hatchlings. I was able to capture this quick video while Mama took a food/water/poop break.

Let the fun begin!!



This is exciting! We’re in a similar boat here. Just killed our rooster a week and a half ago and the next day, his favorite hen decided to get broody. I’m tired of trying to break her, and just found out the hens eggs may still be fertile for a couple more weeks. So, we’re deciding to let her make a clutch today and tomorrow and give it a go. Now to decide whether to leave her in the coop or move her. And whether to let her raise the chicks with the flock or separate. Fun spring chicken adventures!
 
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We also have a broody Marans chicken. It's the first year we've had her (she's around 10 months old now), and due to very rainy weather (raining days on end with all the chickens remaining in the coop all day) we didn't spot het broodiness in time. Now that the weather is warming up, we've been trying to no avail to break her broodiness (at least with the methods that we found humane enough-- chasing her off the nest a couple of times a day, removing all nesting material, putting ice cubes under her...still no effect). After more or less three weeks we gave up, and felt bad about stressing the poor bird out so much. If she's so determined to hatch eggs, we might as well give in to her nature. Luckily we have a pouty breeder in our village that we got to know a bit better (we got our chickens from him in the first place). He had an excess of fertile eggs from a particular breed that he gave to us at no charge. Since we have no space in our current coop to add many more chickens we made a deal that he would take back whatever birds we didn't want to keep.
So today we gave our hen 12 eggs to sit on. We haven't separated her from the flock (we don't have another coop to give her at this short notice), so we just put her in a more quiet corner of the coop and hope for the best!
Now we're counting the days to see if some of the eggs will hatch! So exciting!
 
Jay Angler
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@ Brody and S - The biggest problem I've had with not separating the broody mom is that other hens will sneak their eggs under her. However, those eggs, if they're even fertile, won't hatch at the same time as the initial clutch.
In tight quarters, when we were just starting out, I would mark the initial eggs with a black grease pencil so that I could check them every day or two by sliding them out from under mom while reassuring her, and remove any that weren't marked. The marking would wear gradually, so sometimes I had to refresh it two weeks in.
If a mom ends up with too many eggs, you run the risk that the initial eggs will get pushed out enough to get cold and die, and the hen will end up with no viable chicks.
 
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There's no guarantee that every egg is going to be fertilized just because there was a rooster around. A rooster might not hit every hen every day. I bought 24 from a neighbor and 4 of them weren't fertilized. I know because I broke them open once it was 5-6 days past the rest having hatched. I just tossed them on the ground outside and they still looked like eggs, yolk and white(clear) This was in an incubator so they should have developed something.
 
John Pollard
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Good timing. We have a hen that goes broody if more then 8ish eggs collect. She's the last remaining survivor out of 4 hens and a rooster. The rest got killed by hawks but she's smart enough to run across open areas and hang out with goats or dogs. She also lays an egg every day even though I don't feed her. She's completely free range and the coup has an opening she can fly up to get in/out. It's not locked at night.

The ultimate homestead/prepper hen.

So I'm ready to get some more fertilized eggs from the neighbor and let her hatch and raise them but I had a thought yesterday. I wondered if maybe she wouldn't bother sitting on eggs that smelled like human hands. Sounds like I have an answer.

Once I get the eggs, I'll lower the nesting boxes down, full up the feeder and waterer and lock her in with the fertilized eggs.

With her raising the chicks, I imagine I'll have a whole flock of survivors. Once the chicks are fully feathered, I'll quit feeding them.
 
Stacie Kim
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Jay Angler wrote:@ Brody and S - The biggest problem I've had with not separating the broody mom is that other hens will sneak their eggs under her. However, those eggs, if they're even fertile, won't hatch at the same time as the initial clutch.
In tight quarters, when we were just starting out, I would mark the initial eggs with a black grease pencil so that I could check them every day or two by sliding them out from under mom while reassuring her, and remove any that weren't marked. The marking would wear gradually, so sometimes I had to refresh it two weeks in.
If a mom ends up with too many eggs, you run the risk that the initial eggs will get pushed out enough to get cold and die, and the hen will end up with no viable chicks.



I had to buy fertilized eggs. Knowing that I wouldn't be able to keep track of which ones were to hatch, I marked the fertilized eggs with an "X" in a big black sharpie marker. Worked great.
 
Kristine Keeney
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[quote Jay Angler ]n tight quarters, when we were just starting out, I would mark the initial eggs with a black grease pencil so that I could check them every day or two by sliding them out from under mom while reassuring her, and remove any that weren't marked. The marking would wear gradually, so sometimes I had to refresh it two weeks in.
I have always used a pencil. Well, okay. I use whatever marking utensil I happen to have handy, I just try to make the mark small and light.
I also check each hen sitting on a nest, no matter if I know why they're there.
It allows me to remove the odd surprises they sometimes collect.


[quote John Pollard] With her raising the chicks, I imagine I'll have a whole flock of survivors.

That would be amazing! That's what I'm going for with my Dorkings. I want to bring them back to the whole reason they weren't allowed to be sold from the township of Dorking in the first place! Making Dorkings Dorkings again.
Every breed has a story, and every landrace critter has a reason. It'd be nice if we had some sort of organized push towards the more useful parts, and away from chickens as garden decor.
Or maybe that's just me.
No, Y'all are like me. It's like going to a family reunion and all the people you don't know are relatives of some sort, and you suddenly aren't The Weird Kid anymore.
Thank you.
 
Brody Ekberg
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John Pollard wrote:There's no guarantee that every egg is going to be fertilized just because there was a rooster around. A rooster might not hit every hen every day. I bought 24 from a neighbor and 4 of them weren't fertilized. I know because I broke them open once it was 5-6 days past the rest having hatched. I just tossed them on the ground outside and they still looked like eggs, yolk and white(clear) This was in an incubator so they should have developed something.



Very good point. They only laid 3 eggs yesterday and I left them with the broody hen. Ill leave whatever they lay today and call that good enough. Also reached out to a local poultry breeder to get eggs but she hasn’t responded and if I cant get some today, I think it’s best not to get them at all for this time around.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Jay Angler wrote:@ Brody and S - The biggest problem I've had with not separating the broody mom is that other hens will sneak their eggs under her. However, those eggs, if they're even fertile, won't hatch at the same time as the initial clutch.
In tight quarters, when we were just starting out, I would mark the initial eggs with a black grease pencil so that I could check them every day or two by sliding them out from under mom while reassuring her, and remove any that weren't marked. The marking would wear gradually, so sometimes I had to refresh it two weeks in.
If a mom ends up with too many eggs, you run the risk that the initial eggs will get pushed out enough to get cold and die, and the hen will end up with no viable chicks.



I was going to let her stay as is in her nest box, mark the eggs and remove extras every day. But after reading a bit and watching other hens literally climb on top of her to lay eggs, I’ve decided to isolate her somewhat. Our coop has 2 doors and 2 nest boxes, so I used chicken wire to divide it into separate parts. The broody gets her own nest box, door and access to a small piece of yard with food, water and a dust bath. The other hens get to (hopefully) settle for the other nest box and can use the main door to have access to the big yard. Hoping to let her finish out the incubation and hatching like this so that integrating the chicks with the adults will be quick and painless. At least thats my plan for now!
F4F0949C-A41F-40E8-BF15-A5E8DCAA89B6.jpeg
[Thumbnail for F4F0949C-A41F-40E8-BF15-A5E8DCAA89B6.jpeg]
 
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First off, if you're on Telegram we have a Make Chickens Great Again group there that includes several experts.  Also, the BackyardChickens forum is a good source of info but watch out for speaking up, it's dominated by leftists. Finally, if you're still on FB, there is a Chicken Vet group there where a real vet will answer you sooner or later.

Watch out for snakes. The hen's eggs are easy to eat, and a snake will come back and do it again. After losing two lots of eggs to snakes, I build a snake-proof brooding cage from a large dog training cage wrapped in tight fence wire.  She has room to get up, poop, drink and eat.  We have a week to go now on the current batch of eggs.

Chicks raised under mama get natural immunity to many common diseases, by exposure to her dander.
 
Stacie Kim
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Y'all are like me. It's like going to a family reunion and all the people you don't know are relatives of some sort, and you suddenly aren't The Weird Kid anymore.
Thank you.



Some people call us "weird." I prefer "enlightened." LOL
 
S. Bard
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Quick question: how often should a hen sitting on eggs leave the nest to eat/drink/poop? Ours hasn't left it for two days so far. I left some water and food nearby her, even offered her some from my hand (she usually eats stuff from my hand happily), but she doesn't budge. I hardly see her blink!! She almost seems to be in a trance-like state. Should I intervene at some point if she continues to not eat or drink?

 
Stacie Kim
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This was my first time letting a hen brood on a clutch of eggs, so I would never call myself an expert. But my personal thoughts are that the hen knows instinctively what to do.

My hen didn't come out of the box hardly ever. It seemed to me like her comb was getting pale. I did catch her outside the nesting box early one morning, but then she quickly went back inside. So I just let her be.

Now that she is in a brooding box with her little "nuggets," she leaves to go do her toilet needs. It's like she doesn't want the poop near her babies. I jfigure it's her instincts knowing what to do.

My guess is that your Mama Hen will get up to eat a quick bite if she needs it. Otherwise, I would just let nature do its thing.

 
Jay Angler
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Brody Ekberg wrote:

Also reached out to a local poultry breeder to get eggs but she hasn’t responded and if I cant get some today, I think it’s best not to get them at all for this time around.

If this were me, I would not trust the fertility of the eggs your girl has. I would wait 5 days and then carefully candle them (I use a small flashlight with a chunk of inner-tube slipped over the bulb end so there's a comfy way to seal the light to the egg). You should be able to easily see blood vessels forming by 5 days in a chicken egg. Any that don't show that, I would remove. If *none* of them show that, I'd leave them there and try harder to reach your local breeder or anyone else in your community that has fertile eggs. A chicken that has access to food and water can easily go 4-6 weeks on eggs without being hurt by the experience. At this point, I wouldn't even worry too much about the breed - you can always sell off unwanted hens and the roosters are good eating even if they're small.
If your breeder doesn't have eggs to sell, but will have day-old chicks in the 2-6 week range, you could do what Carla Burke does and do the swap at night with day-old chicks. Just have a back up plan if it doesn't work!  If I can find where Carla posted about that, I'll add the link!
 
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S. Bard wrote:Quick question: how often should a hen sitting on eggs leave the nest to eat/drink/poop? Ours hasn't left it for two days so far. I left some water and food nearby her, even offered her some from my hand (she usually eats stuff from my hand happily), but she doesn't budge. I hardly see her blink!! She almost seems to be in a trance-like state. Should I intervene at some point if she continues to not eat or drink?



From what I’ve read, they should get up once or twice a day for up to a half hour at a time to eat, drink, poop and dust bathe. Otherwise she could get mites, lice or soil the nest.

And about the trance like state: I have a feeling that’s exactly what they’re going through. An intense dedication and focus on what shes doing for an extended period of time. I wish I could get in those states more frequently!
 
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Jay Angler wrote:If this were me, I would not trust the fertility of the eggs your girl has. I would wait 5 days and then carefully candle them (I use a small flashlight with a chunk of inner-tube slipped over the bulb end so there's a comfy way to seal the light to the egg). You should be able to easily see blood vessels forming by 5 days in a chicken egg. Any that don't show that, I would remove. If *none* of them show that, I'd leave them there and try harder to reach your local breeder or anyone else in your community that has fertile eggs. A chicken that has access to food and water can easily go 4-6 weeks on eggs without being hurt by the experience. At this point, I wouldn't even worry too much about the breed - you can always sell off unwanted hens and the roosters are good eating even if they're small.
If your breeder doesn't have eggs to sell, but will have day-old chicks in the 2-6 week range, you could do what Carla Burke does and do the swap at night with day-old chicks. Just have a back up plan if it doesn't work!  If I can find where Carla posted about that, I'll add the link!



Several people have told me the eggs should be fertile up to a month after killing a rooster, but I have absolutely no experience with that. I planned on candling the eggs on day 10, but could do day 5 just to minimize any wasted time and energy on the hen’s part. Our local breeder lives close by, so maybe we will just have to go over there since they’ve been unresponsive so far. Our whole flock is buff orpingtons, and I’d like to get some color variation so we can actually tell them apart. We love the Orpingtons though and I’d like to stick with them for now. The breeder has silver laced and jubilee Orpingtons (supposedly) so hopefully we can get either some eggs or day old chicks from her and get this process rolling!
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:Several people have told me the eggs should be fertile up to a month after killing a rooster, but I have absolutely no experience with that. I planned on candling the eggs on day 10, but could do day 5 just to minimize any wasted time and energy on the hen’s part. Our local breeder lives close by, so maybe we will just have to go over there since they’ve been unresponsive so far. Our whole flock is buff orpingtons, and I’d like to get some color variation so we can actually tell them apart. We love the Orpingtons though and I’d like to stick with them for now. The breeder has silver laced and jubilee Orpingtons (supposedly) so hopefully we can get either some eggs or day old chicks from her and get this process rolling!

I have more experience with ducks than chickens, so I don't doubt what you've been told, I've just found that not all chickens read the rule book! I'm happy to know you're willing and able to create a back-up plan! I have dealt with disappointed feathered moms before and part of my philosophy is that in return for all the benefits I get from having ducks and chickens on my farm, I have a responsibility to try to give them a satisfying life. There will always be tough decisions I have to make - I just broke brood on a duck because she absolutely refused the safe location I offered her, and the location of her choice would have resulted in a dead duck and a predator problem - but to me, raising animals with permaculture in mind, requires things to go both ways.
 
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Jay Angler wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:Several people have told me the eggs should be fertile up to a month after killing a rooster, but I have absolutely no experience with that. I planned on candling the eggs on day 10, but could do day 5 just to minimize any wasted time and energy on the hen’s part. Our local breeder lives close by, so maybe we will just have to go over there since they’ve been unresponsive so far. Our whole flock is buff orpingtons, and I’d like to get some color variation so we can actually tell them apart. We love the Orpingtons though and I’d like to stick with them for now. The breeder has silver laced and jubilee Orpingtons (supposedly) so hopefully we can get either some eggs or day old chicks from her and get this process rolling!

I have more experience with ducks than chickens, so I don't doubt what you've been told, I've just found that not all chickens read the rule book! I'm happy to know you're willing and able to create a back-up plan! I have dealt with disappointed feathered moms before and part of my philosophy is that in return for all the benefits I get from having ducks and chickens on my farm, I have a responsibility to try to give them a satisfying life. There will always be tough decisions I have to make - I just broke brood on a duck because she absolutely refused the safe location I offered her, and the location of her choice would have resulted in a dead duck and a predator problem - but to me, raising animals with permaculture in mind, requires things to go both ways.



I like your attitude! I agree, tough decisions will always have to be made. Seems to me that, unless it would really create problems, letting a broody bird do her thing makes a lot more sense and is easier and less stressful than fighting nature! I hate feeling like I’m swimming upstream, and that’s what trying to break the broody felt like!
 
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I think this might be the post Jay Angler is talking about:
https://permies.com/t/160104/Broody-hen-chance-hatching-chicks#1257855
 
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Carla Burke wrote:I think this might be the post Jay Angler is talking about:
https://permies.com/t/160104/Broody-hen-chance-hatching-chicks#1257855



Thank you!
 
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Happy to help!
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