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Broody Hens

  • I like to use broody ducks to incubate eggs.  The breed I prefer are the Muscovys.  And yes I do use them for call eggs, not to mention the heavier breeds.  Iíve also used Blue Swedish.  There are other breeds that make good mothers.

  • I like to separate my Muscovys so they each have their own nesting spot.  Itís best if itís dark and private.  I allow them to lay their own eggs and go broody.  There is no mistake when a Muscovy hen is broody.  She will make high-pitched pips and walk around with her feathers ruffled.  She may do this for a day or two before she is ready to sit full time.

  •  I allow them to sit on their own eggs for 4-7 days while I collect fertile eggs that I want them to incubate.

  • I return to the nest area after dark and remove the eggs she is sitting on and replace them with foster eggs.  They are much calmer when it is dark.

  • I return at the 7day point at night and candle the eggs.

  •  When placing bantam or call eggs, I usually put 10 eggs under the hen.  I have found that with only 10 they can step around the eggs and donít put their feet on them.  If Iím replacing the eggs with a larger breed of duck, I usually go with 15.  That way I know the duck is covering all the eggs.

  • The above method doesnít always work.  Thatís when I use method 2 for hens that abandoned their nests after I placed foster eggs under them.

  • I know my hens and know which method works for the individual duck.

  • I allow them to lay their own eggs and start to get broody.   Sometimes it takes a couple of days for them to decide to sit full time.  When I first spot the broodiness, I take their eggs and replace them with the foster eggs. 

  • The only problem with this is that they can lay 3-4 more eggs after they go broody.  These eggs must be removed if they are given bantam eggs or if their eggs are not fertile.  The size difference in the eggs will cause uneven heating.

  • I usually try to candle the eggs, and then remove any eggs the duck has laid of her own.

  • If the hen is incubating bantam eggs, I either remove them 1-2 days prior to hatch and place them in my hatcher, or allow them to hatch and remove the ducklings before they leave the nest.

  • I can usually get 3-4 hatches per hen by doing this.