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How do you get a chicken to set on eggs?


I wish I knew more. If anyone can help with this one, it would be great.

This is what I know:

1. Leave behind dummy eggs or risk the real ones breaking. 2. Leave a few straws over them for camouflage.3. Be sure it’s dark and secretive looking.4. If one acts hormonal-screechy at you/others, her feathers stand up,or she acts different than the rest: put her by herself with eggs and wait.5. They need a good protein diet. 6. Try leaving them loose by themselves (no success so far).7.Get a heritage breed- I have a red sussex cross, but am going to get some barred rock later on. Bantams are good-that’s why I kept this snarky rooster-he’s part bantam, so I had prospects for his offspring, …if only I could find one hormonal hen…alas nothing so far…grrr.

Last year I watched my hens to see how they were acting. One was a bit cranky with the others, and her neck feathers would stand up when she was mad. I watched her further and she had a unique curiosity about the egg nest. I’ve had them let out a big ‘screeeech’ when they want to stay on a nest before, but none were doing that.

I made  a ‘secretive’ nest in a room apart from the other chickens, where the lighting was dim. I put a dozen eggs behind a big box so that it was over the nest leaving a triangular area underneath. I left a few straws on top of the eggs to make it look like something was trying to hide them.  I marked the eggs so that I would know if she laid any new ones  or turned them (with a big red X) It worked! I can’t even explain how exciting that adventure was…waiting the 21 days for new fluffy,teeny, baby chicks. The day they came I was so proud and fulfilled (yes, really) – beyond belief. 

I want to do it again, but none of the hens look like they want to do the job. I have left eggs in secret places, but they just get rolled around and stomped on by them all. I’m bordering on exasperation. I would like to get of hens setting before the month is over, so that I don’t have to buy them in May.

A week ago I made a secret nest and left one of the older birds by herself to inspect it, but she just pooped all over everything and knocked stuff around while she made plans to escape. I gave up on her and tried another hen that had been keeping her distance from the others (I’m looking for any kind of sign here!) a couple of days ago. I’ve checked in with her yesterday and today. She was on the nest when I looked yesterday. I wonder if she was just trying to stay warm in that little nook I made. I hope that it’s not a coincidence.

Help?!?

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16 Responses to “How do you get a chicken to set on eggs?”

  1. http://www.ehow.com/how_5721787_hen-set-nest.html
    I wouldnt leave anything to chance, chickens have really tiny brains. I would use a small incubator. Then you dont have to supervise the situation as well. Have you considered building one?

    • sherry says:

      It would get me some chicks, but I could buy them too. I want to the see the chicken’s maternal instinct. She defends them, keeps them warm, finds them food. It’s funny and heartwarming.

  2. sherry says:

    Sweet….but..then its so harder to hack their heads off and eat them :(

    • sherry says:

      Those ones I keep for replacements for my laying hens. I agree you have to be a hard nut to butcher chickens, or anything. I find it’s best not to name them. That being said, some have been named such things as “Skiddish”, “One Tail Feather”, “Ol’Mama” to identify them to someone else, but as their character changes so does their nickname.

  3. Perhaps a compromise. How about names like’Coq au Vin’. Crispy Chicken, or McNugget!
    Decades ago, the In-Laws decided to butcher dozens of chickens. It was such digusting carnage to begin with, and the smell of singing feathers didn’t help any. They put the whole batch of warm chickens into the freezer and packed it to the brim. Three days later I checked and the freezer hadnt returned to a safe temp. I was so disgusted I couldnt eat chicken for at least 2 years.
    I would have to be literally starving to dispatch a chicken.
    There must be an easier way. Cant you just give them sleeping gas or something? lol??

    • sherry says:

      The actual point of death is when you either behead or hook them in the roof of their mouths. After that the chicken goes to heaven.
      I can’t stand the latter. It’s more up close and personal. If you hook them, though, you don’t have to put up with the stink of the burning feathers. A person shoudn’t pack more than a layer in a freezer at a time, and it should be cold to begin with. As long as they are refrigerator temperature they will keep for a couple days too. Gas sounds easier, but what have you accomplished. You still have to cut and gut, etc.

  4. Wait hang on. I have a question. Why does this mean that one does not need to singe the feathers? Oh boy…do I really want to know. I get this weird sensation in the roof of my mouth just thinking about it. It is not always easy having the imagination of an Artist Also, does anyone ever just eat the uh…non-adult chickens? And how did I get to be such a city slicker lol

    • sherry says:

      The feathers fall off the body more or less ‘automatically’.
      I’m not sure how to answer the question about eating young chickens. They are often butchered when they are 4 or 5 weeks old. Fried chicken outlets that have them mass produced, try to grow them as super fast as possible. The more ‘babyish’ the better. Don’t ask what they are fed because you don’t want to know.
      They are mature when they can lay or breed at about 5 months or thereabouts.

  5. Naomi says:

    Keeping chicks warm and feeding them is a lot of hard/finicky work to do yourself. Hens are perfect for the job.
    If I lived on a farm, I’d raise chickens for sure.
    I don’t understand how hooking them in the mouth makes their feathers fall off.

    • sherry says:

      I’ve never done it, but Hubby’s dad has done turkeys. Apparently the hook goes up through the roof of the mouth and into the brain. They do some vibrating and the feathers release. It has to be stuck in at the right place, but I don’t know where. If anyone knows it would be interesting info action to share.

  6. Carmen says:

    Ya, I think if I were you I wouldn’t want to do the hook thing. Ugh! Heebeegeebees just thinking of it. ukh!

    • sherry says:

      Scientists should investigate this, don’t you think? Maybe they could help those who don’t want any hair on their heads, chest, face…or anywhere. Not that they should be stuck, but maybe a little operation? Don’t answer. What an awful thought.

  7. Naomi says:

    I don’t see how the hook is much different than the axe. At least with the hook there’s not so much blood and the feathers come off.

    • sherry says:

      Yes …(sighhh),of only Hubby knew how – then he could do it. I’ve only got as far as the axe operation myself.

  8. If this keeps up I am going to become a vegetarian. A vegetarian that cannot eat beans or lentils. Then I will be in trouble.

    • sherry says:

      Let’s change the subject. I’m going to do another blog on the hen that I was hoping would set.

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