Saturday, 27 September 2008

Hatching Chicken Eggs Naturally

There comes a point in many chicken enthusiasts’ lives when they long to experience hatching and raising their own chicks. Essentially there are two choices when it comes to hatching your own chicken eggs; natural incubation under a hen or artificial incubation in an incubator.

For natural incubation you will obviously need to have some fertile eggs ready and a broody hen. Whilst fertile eggs are usually available at all times (if not from your own flock, then they can often be purchased elsewhere) the presence of a broody hen is not something you can really control. Some hens go broody only once or twice in their lifetime, others will go broody regularly. Your girl(s) will also be strongly influenced by the time of year and so the window of opportunity is again likely to be further narrowed down to the warmer weather of the spring or summer.


Photo By Dottie Day

Once you do have a broody she will probably benefit from a secluded nest and having food and water within easy reach. The nest is safest close to ground level to prevent any unfortunate accidents when the chicks are hatching out. A small coop or area of a coop if available can be an ideal solution as it also allows her and the chicks some safety and privacy if she is to raise them. She will need to leave the nest from time to time, but these periods will be brief, and unless she is quite young and / or flighty, she is not likely to abandon the nest unless she has cause to (i.e. a predator attack or if she knows there are no surviving chicks left to hatch out).

The biggest benefit of hatching chicken eggs naturally (in my opinion) is that you can, if you want to, leave everything up to the hen. It can be hard to resist visiting the nest to candle the eggs or check that none have been soiled or damaged, but it is probably fair to say that even without that additional help she is likely quite capable of successfully hatching out some chicks. All being well, in around 21 days, you will be enjoying watching your broody with her brood.

Good luck!


Some of the benefits of natural incubation are:
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  • You can leave everything up to Mother Nature - what will be will be.
  • Watching a good mother hen teaching her chicks how to find food and dust bathe etc. is a joy to behold.
  • Chicks hatched and raised naturally can tend to be more robust.
Some of the downsides of natural incubation are:
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  • You can't choose when, or even if, you will have a hen go broody.
  • She will stop laying eggs whilst she is broody, and will not start laying again until her chicks are well developed (that could mean as many as four months without eggs from her).
  • There is a limit to the number of chicks one hen can hatch and raise.
  • Not all hens make good mothers; some can be clumsy and break the eggs they are supposed to be hatching, others will ignore their newly hatched chicks, some may even peck at and attack them (have a back-up plan for brooding the chicks yourself in case the need arises).


Photos by Jill Capel

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"Sometimes you don't get to choose where broody hens will nest. These chicks were born in a high-rise nesting box. My solution is the balcony. . . ."

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a question, I did use my silkie hen this year to hatch a few chicks 5 exactly, they were not her eggs since the rooster would not mate with her back then, they were my splash silkies eggs and my light brahmas eggs which she just took in, she also broke the bad egg and ate it, the others I had to candle and get rid of she was barely a year and she did try to kill the chicks.
what I want to know is will she ever be a mother hen and raise chicks as she gets older can I get her to do this again? also in your opinion what breeds are good setters and Mothers?
I have added some Buff orpingtons to my flock this year hoping they will be good mothers

Gina said...

Orpingtons are generally considered good as both brooders and mothers. Silkies are one of the most broody breeds but do not mature as quickly as a breed such as Orpingtons and so that immaturity may have affected her skills as a mother. She did show some maturity by sticking with the eggs for the full term so it may be that she is just not a natural mother.

Arslan said...

hey i have two desi hens and two aseel hens.they are not going broody what was happened to these hens.please give me answer

Gina said...

Hi, Unfortunately going broody is not really something that can be forced. We can make everything comfortable for her and give her good food etc. but it really depends on the individual hen. Best Wishes, Gina.

Alison said...

We recently have a young chicken that began laying on a clutch of eggs, some hers, some not. We have never hatched chicks naturally and have lots of questions. Should we remove the chicks once hatched? Will the rooster and other chickens hurt the chicks or eat them? ect... I have been trying to find info on raising chicks naturally, but can only find info on incubators. She has been laying on them for a couple weeks now, so I guess they will start hatching soon!? If anyone has a good resource for learning more about this natural process that would be great! You can email me at kayakinmi@yahoo.com
I would greatly appreciate ANY info you have!
Thanks!

Gina said...

You can remove the chicks once hatched but potentially that could leave your hen still broody as she would not have completed her 'job'. If you leave the chicks with her it is usually easiest for her if she and the chicks can have their own separate area as it is possible that other members of the flock would try to interfere if they could get at the chicks (this also enables you to feed them medicated chick food without worrying about the rest of your flock eating it). Not all hens are good mothers so it can help to be prepared to brood them yourself at short notice if the need arises.

astotler said...

Hi our banty hen has been sitting for about a month now on 5 rhode island red eggs I lifed her to see if any had hatch and found one old brocken egg undeveloped and four nice looking ones, a while later I decided to move her and the eggs to a seperate enclosure when I noticed that she was in the yard when I when to check the eggs the rhody was on the next sadly she crushed one egg and the perfactly developed chick inside died with in mins. so after moving the eggs and finding the banty one more egg hatched around 6 hour after the first, now there are two eggs that are still unhatch it has been almost 18 hours from the living chicks hatching, my question is how long should I wait before I remove the last to eggs if they dont hatch soon? Also the chick has not eaten anything yet and only had one drink of water, is this normal?

Gina said...

If the eggs were all started at the same time it is unlikely that any new chicks would hatch more than 3 days after the first. However, if the banty is still sitting on the nest voluntarily that may indicate that her instincts are telling her that there are still more to come (quite often they will throw out bad eggs, or just abandon the nest). A newly hatched chick does not need to eat for the first 24-48 hours because they are still living on their yolk. It will need fresh water available though.

Jóhanna said...

We have 5 Rhode Island Red hens and a rooster. 3 of our hens are broody and have been sitting (all huddled together) on 4 eggs for about two weeks now. I've mostly been leaving them alone with this, other than checking the eggs every other day (them permitting). I actually found a broken egg in there this morning. Should I anticipate any problems given that all of them are brooding together, so-to-speak? Is it normal for chickens to stay in such close proximity of each other when sitting on their eggs?

Gina said...

I have had a subscriber with two hens sharing a nest of eggs - they did also end up sharing the chicks quite nicely but one turned out to be a better mother than the other and took better care of hers (the more careless one lost a couple when they fell out of the nest during the night and got too cold). With any natural hatches it is probably wise to have a back-up plan or two just in case (eg. places to keep them separated if you have to). Good luck :-)

Anonymous said...

I have twelve Rhode Island Reds, two roosters, ten hens--they have been allowed free range on our property, so their clutches have been left in very strange places--one problem: They don't stay with their eggs (although they do come back to the same place every day).
Is this an unsuccessful batch or should I wait a couple weeks and see?

Gina said...

If you have a broody hen then they may be building up a clutch to set, but if there is no broody hen then it may just be their favourite secluded place to lay. Fertile eggs can be good for up to six weeks (in the right conditions) but are usually more successful if set within two or three weeks of being laid. A broody hen needs to stay on her nest pretty much constantly for around 21 days for the eggs to hatch.

Anonymous said...

I have a hen that is sitting on 4eggs one has a small crack and she has not been leaving the nest and has soiled the eggs, will any of them hatch? What is the best litter for baby chicks?

Gina said...

They will have more chance if it is close to their hatching date. It is usually advised not to wash eggs but a gentle wipe with a soft dry cloth when she has left the nest for her break may help get the worst off. It seems a little bit of plain candle wax over the crack can sometimes save a cracked hatching egg so may be worth a try. Good luck.

EdnBeckaZ said...

hi! Glad I found this website! My family and I are new to chicken raising and I have a few questions!

First: We bought a silkie chicken from a swap meet about three weeks ago-she lived with males and females on a farm before we bought her.

When we first brought her home, she laid two eggs and ignored them.

A couple of days ago she laid an egg and sat on it, now there are two more.

She doesn't sit on them all day long, but once in awhile and sleeps at night on them.

Could they be fertile?

Does she have to sit on them constantly or will they die?

Thank you!

Gina said...

A mating would potentially fertilse the eggs currently in process in the hen. The first eggs your silkie laid when you got her may have been fertile, but now she is not likely to be laying any more fertile ones. Your hen will need to be sitting on the eggs pretty consistently throughout the day as well as night for them to hatch.

Anonymous said...

Hi we were missing one our Bantam hens for 2 weeks come to find out she was sitting on 13 eggs under a pile of branches and leaves I had to move her and her eggs to the hen house because we were having tree work done and I didn't want her or her eggs to get harmed well she abandoned her eggs so I took them and set them up with a home made incubater the chicks should hatch sometime this week around the 23rd cause she went missing on the 2nd my question is once they are born would she take her babies back or could I have my pheonix hen that is raising 5 babies of her own they are almost 4 weeks old would she adopt them or should I just care for them like if I ordered day old chicks from the feed store

Gina said...

Your Bantam hen might accept them back if she is still broody
raising day old chicks with a broody
The other hen you mentioned wih the 4 week old chicks might possibly still be feeling motherly, but even if she was it would probably be a bit tricky with the four week olds themselves likely to be picking on the smaller chicks.

Anonymous said...

I recently posted an annonymous comment about the bantam hen that abandoned her 13 eggs 2 of the eggs hatched but only one survived she is 3 weeks old and doing very well I put a stuffed duck in her cage so she wouldn't be lonely and it worked it comforted her and she stayed by that duck I am wondering when would be a good time to introduce her to the flock she is much smaller than the other chicks which are 7 weeks old now and it's gonna start getting cold up here in Maine not sure if I should just keep her in for the winter anyway what to do next

Gina said...

Chicks do not usually get their full feathers until around eight weeks old and even then will not be as cold resistant as a fully adult hen so if you have very cold weather it may be better to hold off on adding her to the main coop at night until she is a bit older. I have a few general guidelines about adding to a flock here : Adding to a flock of chickens

Dana said...

One of my hens went broody a few weeks ago and hatched a chick this am. She has five more egs under her and I guess we just wait to see if they hatch? She is in the coop with the other chicks. Can I leave her there to raise the chicks? Do I have to isolate her and the chicks? What about innoculations.. I lost two gifted chickes to mereks last year (they had not been innoculated)....We are new to all of this so it is a bit of a mystery how to handle it.

Gina said...

A vaccination for Mareks is available. It usually comes in viles containing 1000 doses but is pretty reasonable (around $15-$20 for the vile). Vaccination should be as soon as possible after hatching (usually 1 day old chicks). Another common chick disease is coccidiosis which can be protected against by using the medicated chick feed.

Claire said...

Hi, I have a Light Sussex Hen that went broody at Easter after a couple of months of her remaining broody and refusing to leave the nest, (we would lift her out everytime we were in the garden and collected eggs really often as we have no Cockeral and so she was never going to hatch an egg!) I bought 12 hatching eggs on line. I left them the recommended 24 hours before putting them under her and she had sat on them since only leaving them when I lift her out once or twice a day for 10 minutes at a time. Today is day 21 and there is no sign of them hatching - I tried candling them last week but had no idea what I was looking at. Some of the eggs feel light and some heavy. At what point do I give up and remove the eggs?

Gina said...

I have never heard of any chicken eggs hatching after 24 days. If none do hatch and she is still broody you might want to consider putting a chick or two under her - it doesn't always work, but if it does she will hopefully satisfy her urge for motherhood without insisting on another 21 days (or more) of sitting on the nest Raising Day Old Chicks with A Broody Hen

Karier2 said...

I have a Plymoth that has successfully hatched one egg on her own and is currently caring for that chick and one I had to assist with. My problem is now when a new egg hatches she pecks at it and has killed one chick. Tonight I had to assist again and again she tried to kill the new chick. Can I expect this behavior from her if she goes broody again, she is right at a year old? Also, how do I care for this new chick? it is only a couple of hours old.

Gina said...

The basics for caring for chicks are here : Caring
for baby chicks
Some hens make better mothers than others. I don't like to expect the worst, but if she does go broody in the future then you will need to be prepared to step in and care for the chicks yourself in case she does turn against them again.

Anonymous said...

Hi, we currently have our smallest black rock sitting on 3 eggs. They are due to hatch tomorrow, and when I checked her earlier one of the eggs had already started. We have moved her into a seperate hutch away from our other 6 chickens. At the moment she is sitting in a small crate that you would use to carry your vegetables. Would you recommend taking her out of the box so she is on a larger flat surface when the chicks hatch, or will the chicks be fine in the crate? I think they maybe too small at first to get out the box and then I'm scared of them getting crushed or falling and getting injured? Maybe I'm just being super paranoid, but this is the first time we have tried hatching eggs naturally. Thanks

Gina said...

The main potential issue I can think of if you do move her out of the crate is that she might leave the other eggs and just stick with the one chick which (I'm guessing) by now has already hatched. It's impossible to know for sure what she will do in any given situation though and getting crushed by a clumsy mother hen is something that does happen ocassionally. Whether or not you move them it is always worth having a little 'plan b' in your mind in case you do need to raise the chicks or put the family somewhere else etc. Things can go wrong but it is much more common for hatches to go right. Good luck :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi. Our hen has hatched out 6 chicks, and after waiting almost 2 days she is now off the nest and out in her run with the babies. This has left some eggs in the nest, one was partly hatched with the chick still chirping and trying to hatch. Can we hatch it (and the others) in the house by just keeping them warm? Or should we leave them with her and hope she returns to nest? Thanks for your advice.

Gina said...

I would guess that she isn't going to come back to hatch the others if she is now off and busy with her new chicks. Putting the remaining eggs near a heat source may help those that are hatchable to hatch themselves - unless you have an incubator handy this may be something like a heat lamp or perhaps a wrapped hot water bottle laid on top.

shereeab4 said...

We have 3 hens and a rooster. My kids have not been collecting eggs for about 2 weeks now to "build" up some eggs to hatch. We have one hen (we aren't sure which one) that has collected all the eggs into one corner of the pen. There are around 15 -20. Yesterday we built a smaller pen and moved the eggs and the hen we were pretty sure was the setter. We checked on her numerous times during the day and never caught her "setting". Last night, my son put the other hen he thought was the setter in there. This morning there was one egg cracked and now, they have scattered all the eggs and cracked another one. Do we just scratch the batch? Do we have to "throw" the eggs out as some of them are 2 weeks old? should we not have seperated the hen from the others? Please advise... We can't seemto find any other sources of information.

Gina said...

Hatching eggs are at their best in the first two weeks after being laid, after that the hatching rate does tend to drop but some would still probably be ok. The biggest problem seems to be more with the setting hens not being particularly broody at the moment. You really need a dedicated broody (or incubator) to hatch your eggs.

Anonymous said...

I have a young Black Copper Marans Hen that has gone broody. She insists on using the one favorite nest all the hens lay in. I moved her to a pen of her own with a new nest and false egg to see if she will stay sitting on it. So far she will not sit on the new nest and pace's back and forth in the penned off section I fixed for her. Would love to put hatching eggs under her if she decides to take the new nest. Do you think she will eventually take the new nest?

Gina said...

She might, but sometimes young hens are not as dedicated as they need to be to see a hatch through. It would be best to wait until she is showing definate signs of broodiness before trying to put any eggs under her.

Anonymous said...

I have a Rhode Island Red hatching chicks. One hatched yesterday, but 2 eggs "mysteriously" vanished. Could she be eating her chicks?

debbie said...

I have a clucky Silkie who has made her nest under a bush in the garden. I have been given 4 Rhode Island Red fertile eggs for her. My problem is that we have carpet snakes and bush rats and other predators around. I have tried to put the Silkie in her pen in a nesting box, with the eggs, but she will not nest on them. I open the door and back she will go to her nest under the bush. I have put the eggs under her in her bush nest, and she has sat on them now for 4 days. Is it too late to try and move her and the eggs tonight? I don't want to lose my Silkie to some night time predator, and there are big rains also predicted.

Gina said...

Often a clucky hen and her eggs can be moved and she will still stay with them, so it is probably worth a try. Even if she doesn't stay with them after being moved, if the other alternative for her and/or the eggs is losing her to a predator or bad weather then there really is nothing to lose in moving her somewhere safe.

Gina said...

With regards to the 2 eggs of a Rhode Island Red "mysteriously" vanishing (16th May) she could be eating her own eggs/chicks - but so could rats and snakes etc.

Anonymous said...

I have a bourbon red turkey hen that is insisting on setting on my chicken eggs. It has been this way for 2 months. She had her first egg then and layed for 1 month then no more from her but she will not leave the chickens eggs. It is so bad that she has even been caught setting on a chicken that is about to lay her egg! Is it possible for this turkey to hatch a clutch of chicken eggs and raise them? She will barely get off of the nest and will find ingenious ways to get into them as I have tried to block the holes and have them only large enough for the chickens.

Pauline said...

One of my hens had made a nest at the back of my garden pond. She is currently sitting on 6 fertile eggs that I bought for her but my worry is that when they hatch the pond will be a danger to them, I tried moving her and the eggs somewhere safer but she was having none of it. Can I safely move them once they have hatched or will she ignore them if I move them all.

Gina said...

It is impossible to know if she will abandon the eggs if you move them but she may be at risk from predators if left outside the coop, and although she will do her best to keep them in the nest with her, once the hatched chicks start moving around they may be in danger of falling into the pond if they can get to it easily.

Anonymous said...

I have a light Sussex sitting on 6 fertile cuckoo maran eggs. If they hatch will she realise they aren't hers and walk away?

Anonymous said...

I rec'd an order of 35 chicks (multiple breeds) about 10 days before my broody hen hatched her 8 chicks. I introduced one older chick to her which she accepted and is rasing with her "real" chicks...she is a great mom..(she refused to accept other offered additions)..I moved the other 34 chicks into the coop/run. The hen has been keeping the 34 in a corner and being aggressive to them (tho not injuring any of them - yet). We are still keeping ALL the chicks separated from the rest of the flock while they are locked up...during the day, the flock is kept away by mom when she takes her 9 chicks out into the world. At some point, and when would that be, will the Hen accept or allow the 34 chicks to move openly around the common area..or, will she continue to be agressive to them until they "fight back" and possibly be injured by her at that point?

Gina said...

Broody hens will often raise others' chicks. I've even known other species raised by hens such as ducklings, so the looks will probably not make any difference. Not every broody hen goes on to make a good mother though - some are careless or reject the chicks outright - it is impossible to know exactly how one particular hen will react because they are all individuals but usually it turns out just fine :-)

Gina said...

Her primary reason for not accepting the others was probably that she could not physically look after any more than that (fit them under her to keep them warm etc.) - her primary concern will be making sure her own brood have enough food and are safe and so that may be why she is keeping the other chicks away. Once she has finished raising her chicks (usually at around 5-8 weeks old) she will probably start to shoo them away so that they start to fend for themselves more and then she will eventually get back to her own life of laying eggs etc. and will not be so concerned with what the other chicks are doing if they go near hers.

peter_in_jamul said...

I bought two chicken and a rooster. The chicken began to lay(unsure if both or just one). Day 1-first egg in nest "a", we took it out. Day 2-second egg if nest "a", we took it out. Day 3- third and fourth egg in new nest,"b". We now want to hatch them as we are not eating the eggs. Questions: can chickens lay two eggs in one day or are they sharing this new nest? Also, even though we removed the two first eggs ( kept in kitchen by window, very hot last couple of days) can we put them back? And lastly, they dont spend any time sitting on them, does this come later or at all? Thx, peter

Gina said...

It is possible for the breeds that lay daily to ocassionally lay two eggs in one day. The recommended temperature for storing hatching eggs is around 60 degrees (small end down) and they are best set as soon as possible but certainly within two weeks of being laid. You could put them back but if you don't have a broody hen there would probably not be much point - leaving a false egg or two in the nests as encouragement should work just as well.

skybluskyblue said...

My broody Delaware hen had eggs of widely varying ages. One chick hatch. Then she abandoned the nest to follow the one chick that has hatched. Should I take and raise the chick myself so the hen will get back to incubating the eggs?

Gina said...

She is unlikely to be broody now that she has hatched one chick and left the nest as nature will have kicked in and her focus will be on the living chick. As the eggs are of widely varying ages, even if she did go back to them, the same problem could possibly happen again. It may be possible that another member of your flock would take over the nest but once the eggs have been cooled down for several hours the chances of hatching are greatly reduced.

Jenn said...

I have a Speckled Sussex and a Top Hat "job-sharing" -- they are in a nesting box together sitting on a clutch. When we realized that they were broody, we marked the 10 eggs. Since then, they have eaten one. Will a broody hen continue to lay eggs or does she stop while she is sitting on a clutch? We find at least one new egg in that nesting box every day, and sometimes find other hens in there with the Sussex, so we're not sure whose eggs they are.

Gina said...

A broody hen will usually stop laying while she is sitting on a clutch.

Anonymous said...

We have 5 hens. 3 pullets, a red star and a black pullet. We recently had to remove our Roo (permanently) because he was getting to aggressive and my husband and i were wondering what the chances would be that we would be able to have any of our eggs hatch. I have seen the Roo daily 'fertilize the females' but i havent seen any of the hens acting "broody" or wanting to stay on the nest. However some of the eggs were placed in odd spots around the inside the coop but sometimes they all lay in one nest. What would you do in our situation....

Gina said...

There are always multiple eggs in formation at any one time so the next five or so eggs from each of your hens following the roosters last mating should in theory be fertile. If you don't have a broody hen the only other way is to use an incubator.

Anonymous said...

6 fertile buff Orpington eggs have arrived by post today. Just put them under my Broodie light Sussex. Mrs Broodie is in nest box shared with 4 other hens. Shall I move her + the eggs at this stage or wait for several days or wait until hatching occurs?

Gina said...

It is usually recommended to keep mother and chicks seperately if you can. I don't know which time would be best to make the move though (or even if there is a 'best' time) - any move could potentially upset her broodiness, but if she is in the same nests as the others that also might disturb her, plus she may be puting them off using the nests if she is being bad tempered with them (as often broodies are).

Anonymous said...

So I have my broody 10 month old buff Orpington in setting on 6 random fertile duck eggs right now they are on day 11 right now. I candled them tonight they all look good. I know duck eggs take about 28 days. Will I need to help with the hatching, how much should I interfere? Do you know if there are any special consideration I should take since they are ducks? I would love for her to raise them if possible, but I am prepared if she doesn't.

Anonymous said...

I'm not an expert. But.
To get my chickens to lay eggs where I want, we have wooden balls I leave in the nests, our chickens have a tendancy to use nests that already have eggs in them.
So, when I had a hen acting broody, I put 6 balls in one nest and left the others empty.
After she occupied the nest for a few days, I put eggs under her and removed the balls.
"If" any chicks survive, I will set up a feeder under a something just high enough for the chicks to get in but not the hens, then they will have access to chick starter.
Its a trick we use with kittens and other animals.
My error so far, I should have set up a nest separate from the others. At first, when the hen left the nest, on her return sometimes there was another chicken on her nest or she would just choose the nest box with the most eggs.

Chrissy said...

Hi can someone tell me what to do, I have just found my broody hen dead. She was fine two hours ago when the first egg had hatched out. Dont understand what has gone wrong. I now have one chick and seven eggs. Have put them all in the airing cupboard for the moment.
Chrissy

Muhammed Uzair said...

Hi, I have a question regarding the problem I am facing.
My aseel hen is almost 8 months old but not start laying eggs yet. But the hen sits on others eggs daily for sometime and then leave the eggs. Kindly tell me that whether my hen gets broody or will lay eggs or not.

Gina Read said...

Most hens will lay eggs eventually, but it is possible to have a hen that has an internal issue and never does. Broody hens stop laying eggs once they have a clutch to sit on so if your hen is broody that could account of her lack of eggs.

Anonymous said...

I have 4 hens that have gone broody. Hen #2's eggs are now hatching as of yesterday afternoon. 4 have hatched and there are 4 that are cracked and the shell is falling off but the white membrane is still intact from what I can tell. I have not touched the eggs. The hen is still on nest so I am guessing there are still live chicks to hatch!?????

Kristin said...

Our Americauna had been broody for almost two months when I ordered a dozen fertilized eggs, hoping to end her frustration. All the eggs in the next caused our Black Orpington to go broody (she does at the drop of a hat) as well. They take turns happily setting on the eggs and moving the eggs around. Today is day 21 since Cleo first started sitting on them... no signs of hatching. We have removed 4 broken eggs that had developing chicks, as soon as we found them (inspect every day when they get off the nests for a snack). What are the chances that none of the eggs will hatch? I see that 24 days is really the max to let them sit... thank you!

Gina Read said...

All being well you can normally expect around a 75% hatch rate from good quality hatching eggs. They can be damaged by being shaken (such as a bumpy journey through the mail) or stored in too hot/cold conditions though.

Evans Family said...

I have a silkie hen that is sitting on four eggs. She's been sitting on them for a weeks now, I just candled them tonight and so far it looks as if everything is going well. I'm new to egg hatching so I have a few questions. I got my silkie hen along with two other silkie hens a silkie rooster, and a polish hen at the beginning of this year. Should I be concerned that she is still young? I have not seen her move from the eggs at all and I put water and food next to her. Do I need to move her to a separate place away from the other birds? She is nesting about a foot and a half or so above the bottom of the chicken house. Do I need to be concerned about the chicks safety once they are hatched? I live in Washington state and it is about 40 degrees at night here, should I move the chicks and hen once they are hatched to a warmer place? Sorry this is so many questions but any help would be greatly appreciated.

Gina Read said...

Some young pullets can be a bit flakey in terms of sticking the job out but generally Silkies are very dedicated broodies and mothers. It is always a good idea to have a 'plan b' ready though if you do have to step in for any reason. In nature a hen would come back to the flock with her chicks in tow a few days after hatching. Sometimes other members of the flock can try to get at the chicks - an angry mother hen can usually scare off any of her flock members if they do try that but it can become tiring for her if it becomes a constant battle and eventually she probably would lose some. Silkies as a breed do have very strong mothering instincts though. It could be that the others would help with raising the chicks or just steer clear, you can never really know for sure until it happens. If you want to try leaving them all together to see how things go you will need to keep a close eye on things to make sure everything is going smoothly and it will be another case of having a 'plan b' ready in case it doesn't.

Crista McCann said...

Gina, This is our second season to raise chicks from the farm store. We use the eggs and do not usually let them hatch, however our one sweet banty hen (free range) hid her nest from us. She'd been missing 3 weeks when we discovered dogs had killed two chicks. We found the nest and moved her and the 5 remaining eggs into a secluded coop. She's still sitting on the clutch and as best as I can tell one has hatched, but I can't tell if it is alive. She seems dedicated enough, but if it is dead how can I tell if she has killed it? And we have chick waterers and feed in the coop but how can tell if they are drinking from it? Thank you for any help!

Gina Read said...

If dead it could be that she wasn't very careful with it and it accidentally got too cold but sometimes there can be an internal problem and they just aren't destined to survive. It will be hard to know if she has intentionally killed her chick unless you actually see her pecking/attacking one or there are obvious signs of being pecked to death. She will normally show her chicks how and where to drink and eat - it may be that they don't eat much from the food you leave but it is still a good idea to have it there in case they need it. With regards water if the dish is something they can fall into it can help to put something like marbles or pebbles in the bottom of it so the chicks can't drown.

Jose Rivera said...

I have a question if you have picked up the egg will the chicken still take care of it and hatch it

Gina Read said...

It shouldn't affect how the chicken takes care of the egg as a small amount of handling is quite common with a lot of breeders (storing them to make a clutch, marking the eggs for identification, candling them at various stages etc. etc.).