How long should a hen set on eggs? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread


this is my first experience with a setting hen. Today is 21 days since she started setting. I see a piece of broken shell in the pen with her, but don't hear any peeps from new chicks. She is still setting on the nest. There are about 13 eggs under her from the flock. The eggs were all layed the same day.

My questions are: If she has hatched any chicks, will she continue to set waiting for others to hatch? Can they peck their way out of the egg with her sitting on the nest? If they have hatched, will she smother newly hatched chickens, by continuing to set on the nest? Should I hear little peeps coming from the new chicks if there are any? She pecks hard if you try to get under her, and she wakes up if you try it at night.

I have not seen her off the nest but once, and that was 2 weeks ago! However, she does change position occasionally. She has not eaten very much, although I know she does occassionally, because I have put some 'special' treats in the pen for her.

At what point do I forcibly move her to discard any unhatched eggs?

Thanks for your time, as you can see I am very new at this, but anxious to make sure she does not waste away setting, and to see if there are any little ones.

-- Dian (, April 30, 2000


Dian: Just went through this with our hen. At 21 days, the chicks started peeping under the hen, and 3 hatched that day, and two more the next. It appeared that the hen kind of raised up over the eggs a bit, still sheltering the newly hatched chicks, while the others were breaking out. Two did get out of the nest and were found, trampled and dead, whether by her or another hen, I don't know. I moved her and the remaining eggs and chicks the next day, during the day to the other side of our hen house and she is doing fine. I would wait at least another week if they haven't hatched, and just wear gloves to remove the eggs when you determine they aren't hatching. I removed them because one chick had a leg that was kind of rotated backward, and I don't know if it was from sliding over the remaining eggs, or if it was born that way. Good luck. THey are really neat. Jan

-- Jan B (, April 30, 2000.


thank you for the information. I went outside about an hour ago and looked at the hen. She was making real soft clucking noises. I talked to her real softly and I heard a couple of peeps!

I got her some bread (the hens love it) and gave it to her. I heard more peeps! I think I have a couple of them hatched, but haven't been able to see them yet. I guess she will get off the nest when she thinks they have done all they are going to do.

Right now they are in a large airline dog carrier. Becuase it is so large, and they can get in the back corner, the hens have always loved laying in there. She has plenty of hay, feed and water in there. Is the hay okay for the chicks to be on? Will that injure their legs?

I am building them a small run, separate from the other hens (they free range all day and get locked up at night).

I actually have some little chicks! I am so excited!

-- Dian (, April 30, 2000.

She'll take charge and raise the chicks, given a chance. She'll hatch what she thinks is right, and then either walk away from or scratch out the rest of the eggs. Of course, her judgement may not be the best - she may abandon viable eggs that still have a few hours or days days to go, once she feels that THAT'S ENOUGH; so if you can close the door on her and lock her in you may increase the chances of getting more eggs hatched. Just put a small tin of feed and a small shallow dish of water in with her.

-- Don Armstrong (, May 01, 2000.

Dian, it seems that the more I fuss over a setting hen, the more I mess the situation up. She'll sit there about 24 hrs, or until some of her chicks wander away. Then there is a quandry -- chase the live chicks or hatch the rest? If she abandons the nest and you feel the urge to try to save some of the remainders, go ahead and listen and look for chipping shells. You may get a couple more, but you would probably have to brood them yourself under lamps. She probably has a dudd or two in that 13, also.

I had a hen last year who hatched and mothered 13 live out of 18. That was a pretty long line of chicks! My vote is let her be, and she will do her mother hen thing, and it will work out best. It may help to give them a water source not too far away that is low enough for the chicks to drink.

-- Rachel (, May 01, 2000.

Morning Dian,

If you cup one hand over her head you can reach under her with the other.

-- Peg (NW WI) (, May 01, 2000.

Hey yall i have a question! my chickens are free range but they go in there pen at night. i just found an egg that had been under some tin and the egg was cracked and found a dead chick a few feet away. my rhode island red is sitting on a bunch of eggs but the eggs are outside the pen. Should i move them into the nest or should i leave them were they are? She is not sitting on them at night. I have no clue please help!!!!

-- Sarah (, May 01, 2000.

Update on setting hen!

Hi everyone, I have seven little chicks. 3 a light color and 4 that are dark. Since I have RIR and Barred Rock hens, and mixed roosters, its anyones guess what these little guys are going to look like!

The hen is still setting on the nest, but the babies get out and eat and drink, then run back to mama. I guess I will leave her alone a couple of days, but do not want to force her to set too long. The carrier is plenty big for them right now.

Thanks for all your advice!

-- Dian (, May 01, 2000.

Sarah- If you have lots of predators I would take a chance and move her to a penned-in place inside. Keep her penned, covered and sort of secluded if possible, with her eggs, food and water and hope for the best. If you don't have predators to worry about, just let her be. Moving a setting hen can disturb her enough so that she might just abandon the nest. You don't want to do it unless you have to.

-- Peg (NW WI) (, May 01, 2000.

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