24 December 2007

Sad news update

Three chicks hatched over night. We found them dead under Mary just before we went out this morning. : - ( It looks like she squashed them. We came home an hour ago and no other eggs have hatched or are cracked.

Can I get some advice from some of the readers who are raising chicks from eggs? I was going to take the remaining four eggs inside but Hanno convinced me otherwise as I didn't know what to do with them. Is it just a matter of putting them under a desk lamp in a warm nest? If Mary hatches any other eggs should I take the chicks from her? We can't watch them too closely this evening or tomorrow morning because we won't be here.

I'd appreciate any advice we can get.


  1. Hi Rhonda,
    have you tried asking over at Back Yard Poultry? That's where I go when I need a chook Q answered.

    But for my opinion, I would take them inside and put them under a lamp to hatch. Hopefuly she will remain broody and you can just slip the hatchlings under her one evening after they are all dry (have to be 1 day old tho)

    goodluck, my 2 hens are sitting together on 12 aracauna eggs due in less then 2 weeks
    Renee aka flyingfox

  2. Oh dear I have no advice and wish I lived close as I would have loved to have watched the little eggs. Hopefully this Mother Mary will succeed...she has the right name for this xmas eve night.
    Hoping for the best

  3. I'm so sorry Rhonda, Christmas time is when we want things to be so right, and really it just seems to be a time when things blow out and get more stressfull, as I know you know from your community work. I hope that you do get a chick for Christmas, a hen that grows up and and gives you golden eggs. May the joy of this Christmas time be with you and all the people you and Hanno serve tomorrow.. Love and Peace, Jacky

  4. Rhonda,
    Sent you an email. Coming back to look at the picture again, I would remove good handfuls up the bedding material. Lowering the nest would also keep peeps from toppling over the edge. I think I would leave large pockets of space open in the corners for the chicks to be pushed into when the hen is on the nest.
    Hope it helps.
    Love and Hugs,

  5. I am not anyone who raises chickens, so my advice is of limited, very limited value. I do know that you can hatch chicks under lights because I saw this done when I was in kindergarten, 57 years ago! (Does this affect bonding? Do you need bonding?)
    But I wonder whether you can hedge your bets a little and bring half the eggs in and leave half in the nest, perhaps taking away some of the nesting material as was suggested? I do wish you luck with this! I admire all you do and hope to accomplish some of this myself in the next year.......You definitely are an inspiration.

  6. The children were so excited when they learned that you were trying to hatch eggs. They have been watching and waiting and checking in on your site. Today when Sarah learned of your sad news she said, "Let's make that girl a picture, so she feels better." In the world of this five year old, there's nothing that can't be made better with crayons, paper scissors and half a roll of scotch tape! If only....

    Hugs from Sarah

  7. Honestly there is more to it than putting them under a lamp. They need humidity or they stick to the inside of the shell and rip and bleed when they try and hatch. If I were you I'd eventually buy an incubator. They're not $5 but they're pretty reasonable. When you hatch chicks in an incubator one of the main things is keeping the humidity right or they die, and have trouble hatching. I'd just rearrange the bedding and hope to give them a better chance that way as your mommy hen provides them the heat and humidity under her that they need.

  8. Oh Rhonda... how sad. I'm so sorry.

  9. Rhonda,

    Check the email I sent regarding humidity, it appears that it is not as important in the last three days or so as it is in the beginning of incubation. You also would want to make sure that the temperature was stable before putting them under a heat light (either before at 99 or after hatching at 95)or they can die of heat in their shells and catch colds if they are too cold after hatching.

    The children have been begging for an incubator to hatch eggs this spring, this is just some of the things I have learned from reading and talking with others who have had success. It is a learned skill, and even old timers can't get each egg to hatch every time.

    We have had day old chicks shipped to the house and have used the warming lamps. Hopefully you can keep the chicks with the hen.

    It is now the 25th there, so Good Morning and Merry Christmas Rhonda and Hanno(sp?)!

  10. I pray that you have a wonderful Christmas with your family. May the Lord Bless each of you.

    Sorry about your chicks, Rhonda.

  11. Oh dear, here is hoping the rest come out okay! Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

  12. OH Rhonda I am so sorry!

    Despite this saddness, I hope your Christmas Day is wonderful and full of love.

    duckie xxxx

  13. Merry Christmas Rhonda and Hanno, Have a wonderful day. PS sorry to hear about the chicks. Marlo

  14. I would remove some of the bedding. Your hen is trying to be a good mother and didn't mean to hurt them. Hopefully in a couple of days you will have another one or two hatch. Don't take them away from her as its hard after having a hen sit on them to hatch them any other way. If they hatch and you would feel better you can put them in a box under a light. Dip their beak in water right away and just leave them some starter feed and water and they should be fine while you are doing your Christmas breakfast.

  15. Dear Rhonda,
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  16. Hi Rhonda,
    Merry Christmas to you and Hanno, I hope that you both have a fulfilling day with the community breakfast.
    I would not attempt to hatch chickens on shredded paper, as when they hatch their little legs and wings would get caught in the paper, this could well be the reason that Mary squashed them. I set my chooks on beds of sawdust or woodshavings and they cope very well. Hope the next lot hatch better, don't give up, mother hens are still better and more natural and " simple living than incubators, unless you want to hatch lots of chickens and rear them artifically under lights etc.
    Cheers & hugs

  17. Hi Rhona Jean, I would remove some of the bedding also. Our hens have hatched out many chickens and I think the chicks might find it difficult to scurry around in the paper bedding at first.

  18. So sorry Rhonda. I hope Hanno is feeling better and I hope the chicks in the other eggs do better. Hope your Christmas breakfast in the park went well and that your Boxing Day and Cricket watching is restful and fun.

  19. I used to raise alot of chickens....I would have to say that unless you have a incubator, you ought to leave them where they are. Chickens can be moody and if they actually hatched and you gave the babies back to her, she might be agressive toward them.

  20. Aw. No advice here. :(

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!
    & Blessings for the New Year!

  21. Hi Rhonda-with my hens i just let nature take it's course. I try not to interfere anymore because it usually did little good. If they are meant to survive-they will.love and blessings,Rose

  22. Hi Rhonda,

    I would leave them under her and try some light cloth bedding instead of shredded paper. You will need chick feeder straight away (your local produce store should have it) especially for baby chickens and water in a very shallow container (otherwise they can drown). I have hatched eggs before and tried putting them straight back with their mother and they still got squashed or died. So it may be mother nature's way of saying they were not strong enough. Once she has a few that have hatched after a few days she will leave the nest and look after them anyway so that any that are late hatching will be left to their own devices. If you did want to try to hatching them, you really need a light over a box and some light bedding. I have used rags in the past. They will move away from the light once hatched, but they will got back under it to sleep. I have used a 60W reading light over one corner of the box. You need the light for a few weeks after they have hatched unless the nights are really hot and even then you would need light bedding for them to crawl under. I have had success in raising them myself but if you raise them for too long she may reject them when you put them back. That is why I think you should try to let her do it herself. Hope this helps. Good luck.

  23. I am so sorry to read about your little chicks, Rhonda.

    I hope you had a lovely Christmas apart from this sad event.


  24. I will disagree with some of your readers, the amount of bedding will have little impact on weather or not mother hen will smother them. If she is going to do it, she's going to do it. If this is her first time, then it will be more likely that she will. Hens tend to step on their chicks, they (chicks) can take a lot of abuse. There are several reasons why they could be dying, imbreeding, illness, or fear are big factors. Don't take the eggs from her, if you want to encourage her to brood. If they do not hatch within a few days of the others, they probably won't hatch out and you need to candle them, and dispose them.

    Take them from her once they have hatched out, or as soon as you see them hatched out. Brood them indoors. I have had better luck allowing the hens to hatch out their eggs, rather then hatching them myself.

    Good luck on the next round.

  25. Oh how frustrating. We've only hatched out once so I have no advice, but I know the frustration of losing little ones. We lost half of ours to predators!

  26. Hi Rhonda,
    We did hatch them in an incubator and had a turning mechanism. Without something like this I would definitely keep them where they are.

  27. Oh, so sorry to hear about what happened with your new little chicks. I wish I had some good advice to give, but don't. Happy to see others do.

  28. Hello everyone. Thank you so much for your help with these little chicks. Here is the update: one egg cracked open and there was no chick inside. We took out most of the shredded paper, leaving only a wad of folded paper flat on the bottom of the nest and a little of shredded paper around the edges to keep the eggs in and warm. I put Mary in another nest away from the other girls and closer to the ground. Mary is still sitting on the last three and they feel quite heavy. I haven't been outside to check them this morning.

  29. Thank you Sarah. I felt better knowing about that picture you made.

  30. Hi Rhonda

    I raise bantams as a part of our sustainability lifestyle and always go to this site for more info:
    Hope it helps, visit me anytime here:


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