Bators and Broodies: Confessions of a Hatch-a-holic

I never intended to hatch my own chicks but chicken math has no regard for my plans. My hatching addiction started innocently enough with a request for a Brinsea incubator for my birthday a few years ago. After witnessing the miracle of my first chick hatching, I had The Fever, for which there is no cure. The idea that an egg can transform from potential breakfast food into fluffy cuteness in 21 days completely captivates me. The Fever has taken over my kitchen counter, garage and basement and demanded the construction of a second coop.

I never intended to hatch my own chicks but chicken math has no regard for my plans. My hatching addiction started innocently enough with a request for a Brinsea incubator for my birthday a few years ago. After witnessing the miracle of my first chick hatching,  I had The Fever, for which there is no cure. The idea that an egg can transform from potential breakfast food into fluffy cuteness in 21 days completely captivates me. The Fever has taken over my kitchen counter, garage and basement and demanded the construction of a second coop. If you build it, more will hatch.

My husband built the "Little Deuce Coop."
My husband built the “Little Deuce Coop.”
The most dangerous thing you can give a hatch-a-holic (besides an incubator) is a rooster as he will ensure a steady supply of fertile, hatching eggs to fuel The Fever indefinitely. Max is my Black Copper Marans

The most dangerous thing you can give a hatch-a-holic (besides an incubator) is a rooster as he will ensure a steady supply of fertile, hatching eggs to fuel The Fever indefinitely. Max is my Black Copper Marans (BCM) fella and regretfully, he must be re-homed soon. Armed with the knowledge that Max is leaving and taking his genes with him, I have been hoarding the fertile, BCM and Ameraucana eggs for weeks.

Armed with the knowledge that Max is leaving and taking his genes with him, I have been hoarding the fertile, BCM and Ameraucana eggs for weeks.
It seems such a waste of good genetics to eat these beauties

My bators only accommodate seven eggs each and I have been filling them religiously every 21 days for a few months in anticipation of Max’s departure. I have more eggs than I can fit in my bators and, as luck would have it, I have four hens that are broody! (evil laugh) A broody hen is one who is inspired (by lighting conditions and hormones) to sit on eggs and hatch chicks.

I never intended to hatch my own chicks but chicken math has no regard for my plans. My hatching addiction started innocently enough with a request for a Brinsea incubator for my birthday a few years ago. After witnessing the miracle of my first chick hatching, I had The Fever, for which there is no cure. The idea that an egg can transform from potential breakfast food into fluffy cuteness in 21 days completely captivates me. The Fever has taken over my kitchen counter, garage and basement and demanded the construction of a second coop.
SuperBroody, April (a Buff Orpington)
SuperBroody, April (a Buff Orpington)

Since broodies occupy all four of my nest boxes, the other hens are forced to lay eggs in the corner of the coop or double-up in a nesting box to lay eggs. If for some reason I was not going to allow my hens to hatch eggs (for instance, if I had no fertile eggs for them) then I would have to ‘break’ them of their maternal aspirations. The reasons to break up a broody hen and how to do so can be found here.

I never intended to hatch my own chicks but chicken math has no regard for my plans. My hatching addiction started innocently enough with a request for a Brinsea incubator for my birthday a few years ago. After witnessing the miracle of my first chick hatching, I had The Fever, for which there is no cure. The idea that an egg can transform from potential breakfast food into fluffy cuteness in 21 days completely captivates me. The Fever has taken over my kitchen counter, garage and basement and demanded the construction of a second coop.
Since broodies occupy all four of my nest boxes, the other hens are forced to lay eggs in the corner of the coop or double-up in a nesting box to lay eggs. If for some reason I was not going to allow my hens to hatch eggs (for instance, if I had no fertile eggs for them) then I would have to 'break' them of their maternal aspirations.

Broodies are fiercely protective of their eggs, growling at and pecking at any perceived threat. This makes egg-collecting a challenge. At the risk of invoking their motherly wrath, I check underneath them for eggs several times each day. During this morning’s rounds, I was pleasantly surprised to hear cheeping coming from the nest boxes. Rachel, who had been broody for fewer than ten days, was obviously as surprised as I was to learn the sounds were coming from underneath her.

Since broodies occupy all four of my nest boxes, the other hens are forced to lay eggs in the corner of the coop or double-up in a nesting box to lay eggs. If for some reason I was not going to allow my hens to hatch eggs (for instance, if I had no fertile eggs for them) then I would have to 'break' them of their maternal aspirations.
The nest looks like a pillow fight broke out and the reason for that is broodies pluck feathers off themselves to allow the warmth of their skin to make direct contact with the eggs.

The nest looks like a pillow fight broke out and the reason for that is broodies pluck feathers off themselves to allow the warmth of their skin to make direct contact with the eggs.  I don’t mind being a hatch-a-holic and look forward to having The Fever indefinitely. It is a privilege to have a front-row seat to witness the miracle of life.

Rachel Divider

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cristina strube
cristina strube
7 years ago

from my experience it is not that hard to remove eggs from a broody hen, my gray cochin made no fuss at all and my other two did no more than screech a little.

jill prescott
jill prescott
8 years ago

Do you have to re-home your rooster because you live in the city? If I were you I would hoarding eggs as well. I love hatching eggs…just for the sheer joy of seeing the babies.

MommaSie
8 years ago

Ok being a "newb" here I have a question…
you stated that you were "hording Max's eggs" – understandable I would too! – How long can you keep fertilized eggs outside of an incubator or under a broody before they will not hatch?
I look forward to your answer! Thanks!
(Audrey Siebert)

Kathy Mormino, the Chicken Chick™
Reply to  MommaSie

Hi Audrey.
Excellent question. Hatching eggs that are not set immediately should be stored at temps between 45°F and 65°F for no longer than 7 days for maximum hatchability. They should also be turned 3 times a day to ensure the embryo does not stick to the side of the shell.

MommaSie
8 years ago
Reply to  MommaSie

Thank you! That is very helpful! I wondered how people were able to mail hatching eggs & "horde" them! I'm looking forward to hatching babies this next spring! Thank you for all your information!

Dusti
9 years ago

Beautiful post! I have my first batch in the incubator now- due to hatch in the next day or so. I have all of my fingers and toes crossed that they hatch!!!

I am entering via your Facebook for Challenge 2 of the contest to win hatching eggs!

I am also a new follower! So looking forward to more posts <3

Anonymous
Anonymous
9 years ago

I am Ginger Beck and I am a Hatch-a-holic I would love to enter your MAXimum Addiction Giveaway. I just recruited Ricky Truitt to your Facebook page.

Kathy Mormino, the Chicken Chick
Reply to  Anonymous

Hey Ginger! You are in the giveaway! Thanks for sharing with your friend, Ricky. I hope he enjoys my Facebook page and participates as enthusiastically as you do. 🙂