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Broody hen eating her eggs.

Our broody hen has been sitting since May 1st on 12 eggs,this morning,BTL caught her off the nest, and discovered that 5 eggs had been eaten.It has to be by her,as nothing else could get in the cage.Why would she do this?
We were wondering if the eggs were not fertile,and this was her way of clearing up.
Nicky Colour it green

if they break them, they eat them. what i have never worked out is whether they are just heavy footed, or know which ones are dudes.

one of my broodies did this a lot (now in freezer) others are better. its worth keeping notes

I think it's a bit like sheep eating their placenta; but I agree with CIG, it's difficult to know whether they break them because they know they are duff.
Nicky Colour it green

have you candled the rest? might be worth it

I had a REALLY reliable broody who hatched lots and lots of broods. One batch, she did this, and we took the remaining eggs away from her to candle; only 1 was fertile. I reckon they break them when they know they're duds. But that is just MHO, of course! Wink

I've often wonder this and I'm not convinced either way.

I can understand a hen can tell an egg is clear at a late stage as it fails to retain heat in the same way as an egg with a almost fully grown chick in will.

but... a broody will sit on clear eggs for quite sometime before given fertile eggs to brood, also I think a hen will only leave unhatched eggs in the nest when the hatched chicks really need to leave the nest and so her loyalities are to the live chicks.

I have also had a rotten egg explode under a hen, so she therefore hadn't removed that egg from the nest although obviously a dud one.

I really don't know. I do think once hatched or with animals when born the mother can sense if there is something wong and 'neglect/abandon' them.

But before???

Hens will however always clean a nest, including any broken eggs.
Nicky Colour it green

good point. i have two broodies currently sitting on plastic eggs (whilst the real ones are in the incy). I've also had broody sitting happily for days on end on empty nest. and yes also had exploded egg under hen too (she did look surprised... )

so.. really i dont think they know.. i think they break some by accident and get rid of the evidence.

Well she is still sat tight,so we will wait until theweekend and see what happens.
I will be as mad as if we don`t get any chicks at all.
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