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Discussion Starter #1
I'm getting low hatch rates from my first 2 broody hens this spring (2/6 and 1/10). Below I've listed useful info. Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks.

- Eggs are collected and stored at approx. 55-60 deg F out of direct light for no more than 6 days. Eggs are laid on their sides as they would naturally rest and are turned daily. It is a very dry climate at 7,000' elevation.

- When my hens go broody, I move them to an isolated broody pen after dark. They are given golf balls for 2 days until I'm confident they are serious about being broody. After dark, under a red light, I swap out the golf balls with real eggs.

- They are left undisturbed for the remainder of the 21 days. Eggs are not candled as I don't want to disturb the hens. They are given food/water and their poop is scooped out daily.

- The two subject hens are both first-timers, being 13 months old. One is a Blue Cochin and the other is a French Black Copper Marans.

- The flock is composed of 28 hens and 4 roosters. They free range.

- There has been a couple snow storms during the 21 days, however, the hens are in a well sheltered place and have been very attentive to their nests.

- Pine wood shavings was used as the substrate in the nest boxes.

40440

Thanks in advance for any help!
 

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Your elevation could be your biggest challenge on getting eggs to hatch. We had a member here that lived in a higher elevation and he found the same issues.

You should be able to candle and the girls will stay stuck to their nests.

If you can track someone down who is successful hatching nearby they might be able to give you some tips.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Your elevation could be your biggest challenge on getting eggs to hatch. We had a member here that lived in a higher elevation and he found the same issues.

You should be able to candle and the girls will stay stuck to their nests.

If you can track someone down who is successful hatching nearby they might be able to give you some tips.
Thanks for your response. I had wondered if the elevation could play a role, but I know people who don’t have any issues with an incubator. Not sure 🤷🏻
 

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This member had almost total failures using an incubator. Hatch rate was low but successful using hens.

You didn't mention how many birds you have. Too many females with only one male can lead to lower fertility rates. Or the ages. A young rooster just coming into his adult self needs a bit of practice to get things right.

The next time your girls go broody, candle. You need to know how many are developing. If eggs have a high infertility rate then that's one thing to investigate. Early dead in the shell can be something else that needs investigation.

You could try getting eggs from someone else that have shown high fertility and hatchability to see how many hatch. This is local eggs, not shipped you need to experiment with.

Basically you have some detective work to do.
 

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Welcome to the forum! What Robin said: elevation is a factor if the birds are not native to your area. There are so many things which influence hatch rate but genetics is a big one. Overbreeding in a particular group, contributes to a lower hatch rate.
 

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Serama King
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In addition to what Robin said, I believe that storms, with the sudden changes in humidity and pressure, do affect hatching eggs. I can cite no research on this, only my own personal belief. Nesting material does effect how well the eggs hatch. The hen's nest needs to be of a material that cushions and holds its shape. I stopped using shavings when I saw eggs being buried and pushed out from under the hen. It could be the first time issue, but I've had many first-timers do as well as older experienced hens. I candle all eggs on the 4th or 5th day. Should the eggs be clear new eggs can be set under the hen. Also, if eggs spoil they have a tendency to break/explode as gasses build up inside the egg. When this happens the nest is fouled and good eggs may be lost. It is important to candle eggs; hens usually accept the intrusion well. Good luck with future hatches.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
This member had almost total failures using an incubator. Hatch rate was low but successful using hens.

You didn't mention how many birds you have. Too many females with only one male can lead to lower fertility rates. Or the ages. A young rooster just coming into his adult self needs a bit of practice to get things right.

The next time your girls go broody, candle. You need to know how many are developing. If eggs have a high infertility rate then that's one thing to investigate. Early dead in the shell can be something else that needs investigation.

You could try getting eggs from someone else that have shown high fertility and hatchability to see how many hatch. This is local eggs, not shipped you need to experiment with.

Basically you have some detective work to do.
Thanks, but I highly doubt fertility is an issue. 28 hens and 4 roosters.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
n this happens the nest is fouled and good eggs may be lost. It is important to candl
Thank you, you have some good thoughts. I think there may be an issue with the shavings. They do not hold a shape at all. As cold as it has been, if there is any separation from the hens and the eggs, they could get very cold very quickly. I have 3 other broody hens that I set up with a grass hay nest which appears to hold the bowl shape much better.
 

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Welcome to the forum! What Robin said: elevation is a factor if the birds are not native to your area. There are so many things which influence hatch rate but genetics is a big one. Overbreeding in a particular group, contributes to a lower hatch rate.
Thanks for your response and the greeting. I don't believe any chickens are native to this area, so I'm not sure on that one. What do you mean by overbreeding? If you're referring to too high of a rooster to hen ratio, I'm at 1 rooster to 7 hens (28 hens/4 roosters).
 

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He means chickens that have been bred and raised at that elevation. Bringing chickens up from the lowlands can provide some challenges.
 
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