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Guest

Hatching Questions

I hope some of the experienced poultry keepers can give me the benefit of their experience and wisdom..

This is our 2nd year keeping chickens.  This year & last a few have gone broody, so we have given them a clutch of eggs to sit on.  Problem is, we don't have enough eggs to give each hen eggs from one day, so they are usually sitting on a clutch laid over maybe 3-4 days.

All fine, until hatching starts when we inevitably end up with a hen who has 3-4 hatched chicks & another 4 or so eggs which are not hatched but are often pipping or on the point of.  The hen seems torn between her new chicks who are up & about & the eggs which she should be sitting on.  Hen usually starts to get off nest, bring chicks out to feed, etc & remaining eggs then get cold.

We have been bringing the "abandoned" eggs in & putting them under a heat lamp to try & hatch them and then re-introduce these chicks to the broody.  Unfortunately, this tends to fail dismally on several fronts.

Firstly, I think that when the eggs get cold, the hatching chick seems to slow down it's attempts to hatch - I am presuming a certain level of heat is a requirement here?  So this seems to set them back, use up energy, etc.

Then using the heat lamp sees to me to dry out both the shell & the membranes inside the egg, making it a much tougher job for the chick to break out of the shell. The small number we have had successfully hatch this way would seem dehydrated and certainly much weaker than their "naturally hatched" brothers & sisters.

Finally, when these chicks are re-introduced to the broody, they are sometimes rejected - pecked & trampled.

So - what do we do to avoid this trauma? Do you simply discard any eggs that haven't hatched by the time the hen is off the nest?

Or is there a way of successfully hatching them away from the nest or better still, delaying development of newly laideggs so that a batch collected over several days should all hatch together?

Finally - apologies for so many questions & length of post - many of our eggs would seem to have a double layer of membrane under the shell.  Is this normal?

Any advice most gratefully received  
Camile

Hello,

What I do with my broodies is that once I see one going broody, I try to move her in her own ark, I let her sit on an egg that I don't want to incubate for a day or two to make sure she accepts the move (usualy the last egg she laid). she doesn't know how to count so an extra couple of days won't hurt.

If she does accept the move, then I take the old egg and give her the eggs I want to incubate, and they can be up to 10 days old before given to her. But people often advice to turn the eggs a couple of times a day if you have to make up a clutch ...

And I put food and water beside her so that she doesn't have to leave them long ....

That way the chicks hatch over a 24hr or so period, and as she is in her ark, they are seperated allready from the flock, and protected from predators ...

if she doesn't accept the move (some don't, and you will get to know which hen doesn't), then I give her some eggs at once (removing any she's been stitting on, and count 21 ...

once they hatch, I them move her in an ark ...

some people say to move her once a day for a poop and a feed, but I don't. just let them get on with it ...

and if some doesn't hatch, I just leave them ... if they are not strong enough to hatch, it will make a weak chick and could cause problem on the long run ...

Good luck,
Camile
Guest

Hi Camile

Thanks for your reply.  We seem to be doing most of it right...

We have a couple of small broody arks, each of which is in it's own small & secure pen and once a hen show signs of going broody, we move her to one of these.   Where we are going wrong is that we leave her with the original egg/eggs she is sitting on & then add further newly laid eggs until she is sitting on a reasonable number, usually 8 - 10. as I said before, this can take a number of days.

The "magic" part of it is:  
Quote:
give her the eggs I want to incubate, and they can be up to 10 days old before given to her.


What do you do with these eggs before you give them to the broody?  I presume they need to be collected & stored under certain conditions if they are to remain viable for hatching & that is the part I don't know enough about.  Perhaps you can enlighten me  
wayland

Hi. I am new to this game as well. I watched a game keeper collecting pheasant eggs for incubating, He was collecting many hundreds which must be kept cool while the numbers grew. They also needed to be turned each day and he had a novel way of doing this. He placed the eggs on a piece of corrugated steel, lining them up in the grooves, if you catch me drift. With the steel set at a slight angle he only had to move the bottom one to the top and all the eggs rolled down. Cleaver I thought. might not be of interest to you but I thought I might mention it. Good luck.
Guest

Interesting idea, Wayland.  Could be very messy if you got the angle of the slope wrong though!

For the few eggs I have maybe I should just stick with eggboxes.
EGirl

Hi Trufflehound,

If you need to take pipped eggs from a broody hen they really need to go into an incubator to hatch.  They need both heat and high humidity to hatch successfully.  As you have found, a heat lamp alone will dry the membrane and the chick will find it almost impossible to break through it.  If you don't have an incubator, a warm hot press would do fine.  Put the eggs in a lunchbox, with a tray of water or a wet facecloth, cover and wait!  The temp needs to be at least 90 degs and as humid as you can get it.  

To avoid the staggered hatch, do as Wayland suggests, collect eggs over a number of days, keep in a cool place and turn twice a day.  When you have enough, put them under the hen at night, taking the pot egg away.  They don't begin to develop until they are under heat/hen, so they will all hatch over 24-48 hours.
Think the membrane thing is normal, there is an inner layer too.
Good luck.
Guest

Thanks again all for the useful info.

Quote:
collect eggs over a number of days, keep in a cool place and turn twice a day


This is the part I need a little more help with.  How cool are we talking about - in the fridge, an outhouse, room temperature?

Also, the turning.  Have seen pics somewhere of eggs with markings on them.  Presume you mark them so that you know which have been turned?  Do you turn end to end or just one side to the other, as it were?

Please bear with me, finding this all a bit mysterious at the moment..
wayland

I turn mine as the broody might. This would rarely be end to end me thinks. As to temperature a cool out house should be fine but I know of some who have taken eggs from the fridge to make up a clutch. These have hatched ok. Good luck.
Guest

Thanks Wayland.  It's becoming clearer to me now!
chook

trufflehound wrote:
Thanks again all for the useful info.

This is the part I need a little more help with.  How cool are we talking about - in the fridge, an outhouse, room temperature?

Also, the turning.  Have seen pics somewhere of eggs with markings on them.  Presume you mark them so that you know which have been turned?  Do you turn end to end or just one side to the other, as it were?


A good storage temp is around 10-12C. Anything under 5C kills off the embryo so I would not recommend a fridge for storage. I find the easiest way to turn eggs is to put them tip down on an egg flat or in an egg box and to put a box or a couple thick books under one end and then twice daily just move the box or books under the other end so alternate ends of the flat are lifted up somewhat. This is done to stop the yolk getting stuck to the inside membrane which would kill the embryo eventually. The markings you have seen were probably on eggs in an incubator with manual turning. It's not necessary when using the method above.
Eggs are best stored no longer than a week; hatchability declines after that. Nevertheless one can still hatch eggs stored 2 or 3 weeks or sometimes even longer, one just does not get as many chicks.

HTH
chook
GB

Oddly enough, I have just what you need, an incubator for sale, it will sort all your problems and give you a new one............

egg-a- hall-ism, its what happens when you have an incubator and laying hens

I just kept my eggs in a kitchen drawer and turned them twice a day and bunged them into the bater when I couldnt wait any more

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