Help, my chicken stops brooding
Having eggs hatched by a hen can be a fun and easy way to raise chicks. In most cases the mother hen will also take care of the hatched chicks. But problems can also arise during breeding. A chicken is an animal and you cannot control its behavior. A frequently heard problem is that the broody hen leaves the nest before the eggs have hatched. In many cases, the unborn chicks will not survive. There can be several reasons for the hen leaving the nest, but with good preparation and handling you can increase the chances of success.
Whether a chicken can breed well or badly has a lot to do with the breed.
Poor brood breeds
Many chicken breeds will hardly ever breed, such as leghorns, minorcas, anconas and Andalusians. In addition, there is a good chance that if these breeds do start breeding, they will soon leave the nest. The eggs will cool when they leave the nest. If the hen does not return to the nest, the eggs will not hatch. It is therefore wise to choose a breed that likes to breed.
Good brood breeds
In general it appears that the heavier breeds of chickens have the strongest appetite for breeding, but there are also smaller breeds that can breed well. The disadvantage of heavier breeds, such as Brahmas, is that they are more likely to break the eggs.
Good broody chicken breeds are, for example, the silk grouse, wyandotte, sussex, cochin, brahma (large breed), araucana or the orpington. These breeds can also leave the nest prematurely, but the chance of success is greater with a good breeding breed.
After all, the breeding behavior differs per hen. Some hens like nothing more than brood and will be broody at every turn, sometimes even in winter. On the other hand, there are hens that don’t seem to care about brooding. One of them is a very caring mother, while the other will not look after the chicks.
If you want to hatch eggs successfully, good preparation is necessary.
- Choose the right period in the spring or summer, preferably the month of April or May, so that the chicks do not become hypothermic when hatching.
- Provide a quiet, dry breeding area for the hen.
- Make sure the breeding area and hen are free of vermin.
- Leave the eggs, or put lime eggs to promote broodiness.
- Make sure that other chickens cannot disturb her.
- Get good quality hatching eggs or collect fertilized eggs from the hen and keep them. Keep them cool and turn them every day.
- Mark the eggs with a pencil.
- Put all the eggs under the hen at the same time so that they will hatch at the same time.
Eggs are fertilized by a rooster. On average, a rooster can fertilize about five to six hens. After fertilization by the cock, a hen lays fertilized eggs for about three weeks. Always use the most beautiful eggs for hatching and mark them with a pencil. Fertilized eggs cannot be recognized until they have been incubated for at least five days. This means that there may be eggs under the hen that are not fertilized. It is wise to remove these eggs after candling. You can candle eggs under a candle lamp. A fertilized egg will have a dark spot in the center after five days and an unfertilized egg will still be completely yellow.
Before you can use the fertilized eggs, make sure you have a broody hen. You have the best chance of having broody hens when the temperature rises again, so in the spring and summer. You can promote broodiness by making good preparations. A quiet and clean nesting place where other chickens cannot reach, and providing enough (lime) eggs in the laying nest are effective means of getting a chicken broody. When the hen has been brooding for a few days, the eggs can be replaced by the hatching eggs. The chance of leaving the nest is greatest during the first few days.
Recognize broody chicken
A hen really has to be broody before you put the hatching eggs under it. You can often recognize a broody hen by deviant behavior. She rarely or never leaves her nest, is absent, makes noises and does not lay eggs. A broody hen can also have different external characteristics such as a pale comb, a bare chest and hanging wings. If the hen shows multiple characteristics, and she has been brooding on eggs for a number of days, then the hen is most likely good broody.
Broody chicken care
Proper care of the broody hen makes it more likely that she will continue to brood on her eggs until they have hatched. Therefore, provide fresh water and sufficient food every day. Give the chicken grains and green foods. It is preferable not to give a laying pellet, as this will make the faeces thinner. Also make sure the cage is well closed off from predators and other chickens and check it regularly for pests.
Reasons leaving the nest
Despite following the above tips, it can still happen that the hen leaves the nest prematurely. Reasons for this can be:
- The hen suffers from vermin. For example, a breeding chicken can suffer from red mites. They can get so much trouble with this during breeding that they stop brooding at some point.
- The hatching eggs are not good. Maybe they were unfertilized or the chicks were not well developed. The hen will communicate with the chicks while brooding. If she doesn’t hear a sound she can stop brooding.
- The hen was not very broody.
- The hen has been disturbed too much by other chickens or predators during breeding.
- There were too many eggs under the hen.
Tips when leaving the nest
If the hen has left the nest, there is still a chance to save the fertilized eggs. If the eggs have been cold for less than 24 hours, you can still try to incubate the eggs further. You can do this by placing the eggs under another broody hen, for example. You could also put the eggs in an incubator. If you don’t have either, you could try placing the broody hen on top of the eggs in a quiet place. But if the chicken is really broody, it will most likely not have the desired effect.