For those who own chickens as well as other poultry, this one is for you.
Have you ever noticed when one of your hens gets broody they get REALLY broody? I mean, so broody that if you move them they go straight back to their nesting box by any means necessary!
Well, as it turns out you can take advantage of this broodiness, as chickens are known to be able to hatch other poultries’ eggs!
Without beating around the bush, here’s whether chickens can hatch duck eggs, how you can help them do it successfully, and whether chickens can hatch other poultry eggs too!
A Word About Broody Hens
By the most basic definition, a broody hen has simply succumbed to the hormonal urge to sit on its eggs in an attempt to incubate and hatch them.
It’s nature’s way to ensure the mother hen is compelled to sit on, hatch, and raise her baby chicks should the eggs be fertilized.
It’s funny though, not all chickens get this instinct. Plus, some breeds are known to get more broody than others.
It tends to happen after a period of laying eggs, normally between 10-14 eggs, or what would be considered a full clutch.
During this time a broody hen will forgo her normal routine of foraging and free-ranging and will generally eat and drink less too. Their main priority is to keep their eggs. She will sit on her eggs for at least 21 days until the eggs start to hatch.
So, the first step to hatching any kind of eggs is ensuring you’ve got a broody hen. Otherwise, they’ll likely just walk off the eggs!
Can Chickens Hatch Duck Eggs?
So it’s likely you are here because you want to hatch some duck eggs. You might simply be overwhelmed with duck eggs and are thinking of raising more, particularly if you’re raising frequent layers like Khaki Campbells.
Whatever the case may be, you certainly can use a broody chicken to hatch duck eggs. But, there are a few important differences between raising chickens and raising ducks.
You see, when chicken hens become broody it usually lasts for about 21 days. This is roughly how long it takes to hatch chicken eggs.
However, depending on your breed of duck, hatching their eggs can take between 28-35 days.
This poses a major problem, as there’s a risk your hens will lose their broodiness and leave their nest before the duck eggs are ready to hatch.
So, the best way to utilize a chicken to hatch duck eggs is to first set your fertilized eggs in an incubator, then place them under your broody hen a few days before they are ready to hatch.
What Are The Risks?
Although you can use broody hens to hatch duck eggs, there are a few things you need to be wary of, as it’s not a foolproof process.
Firstly, it’s entirely possible your broody hen will give up her broodiness and ditch the eggs before they hatch.
To combat this, it’s best to first set your duck eggs in the incubator. So long as it’s been a few weeks, as soon as one of your hens goes broody you can quickly move the duck’s eggs under her, and she will likely look after them until they hatch!
Secondly, if you hatch your duck’s eggs under your hen, then it’s inevitable that they will imprint on her. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as some chicken breeds make wonderful mothers, like Silkies.
Plus, after your ducks are 4 weeks of age you can reintegrate them with other ducks so they learn all the necessary skills they’ll need.
Can Chickens Hatch Quail Eggs?
Alright alright, so chickens can hatch other poultry eggs, right? Well, what about quail eggs.
Quail eggs take between 17 and 23 days to hatch, which is pretty much in line with how long a broody chicken hen will stay broody.
So, you can either pop a dozen fertilized quail eggs under your chicken as soon as they go broody. Or you can incubate them for a period of time first, and place them under your chicken as soon as they go broody.
Still, this process has its risks too.
Broody hens will often move their eggs around underneath them. Since quail eggs are so much smaller then there’s actually a chance your chicken will break them. There are also risks that your hen will abandon them, or even try to eat them too.
So, although it’s entirely possible for chickens to hatch quail eggs, there are inherent risks that come with it. Still, some quail breeders swear by using chickens!
Can Chickens Hatch Turkey Eggs?
So there’s a bit of a common trend going on here. Chickens can hatch other poultries’ eggs.
And yes, this means chickens can hatch turkey eggs too!
The main thing to watch out for is that turkey eggs take roughly 28 days to hatch, and chickens may only stay broody for up to 21 days (which is their normal cycle!).
For this reason, it’s essential to incubate your turkey eggs for at least some time before placing them under a broody hen. Otherwise, it’s possible your hen will lose their broodiness and ditch the turkey eggs!
Otherwise, you generally shouldn’t have too much of an issue hatching turkey eggs so long as your hens stay broody!
A Final Note
So, the key to hatching any eggs is ensuring you’ve got yourself a good broody hen. If you’ve owned your chickens long enough you’ll know exactly which of your hens are the best brooders, simply by how often and how long they stay broody!
You can use these hens to hatch duck eggs when they go broody, so long as they have been in the incubator for some time first. This just ensures your chickens will finish the job before they lose their instincts to brood over the eggs.
This extends to almost all poultry eggs too, including quail and turkey eggs. However, each comes with its inherent risks, as other poultry eggs are not the same as chickens’ eggs.
There’s always a risk your chickens won’t continue to brood over the eggs correctly, so this may take a few tries which can be quite heart-breaking, believe me!
Happy farming everyone!