Will a Hen Sit On Dead Eggs?

If you’re planning on adding to your local chicken population, you can use an electric incubator or go natural and have the broody hen sit on the eggs. 

But what happens when some of those eggs are infertile or rotten?

Will a hen sit on dead eggs?

Can it harm the chicken in any way? 

That’s where this article can help.

We’ll give you the rundown on what happens when a clutch includes a few rotten eggs and how your chicken may react.

Stick with us to learn how to manage rotten egg-hatching concerns and handy solutions. 

Let’s get started!

How Long Will a Hen Sit On Eggs if They Don’t Hatch?

You can expect a broody hen to sit on a clutch of eggs for about a month.

According to experts, the best broody hens are the ones that sit on eggs during the night and day.

Additionally, chickens can become broody at any time. 

There’s no exact science to knowing when a chicken might become broody because it depends on several factors.

These include instinct, maturity, and hormones.

Once a broody hen takes its spot on a nest box, relocating it can be stressful for the fowl. 

Several chicken keepers have faced the wrath of their feathered friends for the effort.

So, once your broody hen takes up its spot on the eggs, you can expect it to spend most of its time incubating the eggs for the next 21 to 30 days. 

You don’t have to worry about your fowl falling to harm because of infertile eggs.

One way or the other, when the brooding time is up, the chicken will abandon the clutch. 

How Do You Tell If a Chick Has Died In The Egg?

Infertile or ‘dud’ eggs are a part of the egg-laying process.

That’s why it’s smart to know how to tell the good eggs from the bad (excuse the pun) when dealing with egg-hatching.

If you’re looking to understand how to know if a hatching failure is about to occur, this section is for you. 

The easiest way to inspect a clutch of eggs for a dud is through candling.

That may sound complicated, but it involves holding up an egg against a light source to be able to see through the shell. 

You’ll need a candling lamp for this purpose.

Next, set up the device in a dark room and switch it on.

Hold the egg (large end facing up) against the light to look at the embryo development.

Fertilized eggs are pretty delicate during the first week of incubation, so being gentle and careful is wise. 

Viable or healthy eggs will respond to the light pretty quickly.

On the flip side, embryos that take more than 30 seconds to respond have higher chances of being duds (dying or sick).

If the eggs fall into the latter category, it’s best not to place them back in the nest.

Also, chicken keepers should note that it’s best not to candle eggs too soon after being laid.

The process can bring about embryo damage and lead to dud eggs. 

Can Eggs Still Hatch After 21 Days?

The incubation process for most chicken eggs will last 21 days.

However, some poultry can take up to 30 days too.

That’s why if the eggs still haven’t hatched after the required 21 days, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dealing with infertile or dud eggs. 

It’s always best to extend the hatching deadline to 23 days if you are dealing with a few unhatched eggs. 

During this time, candling is also a good idea to determine healthy eggs from dead ones.

If the candling process reveals little to no response from the embryo, you can be sure the egg doesn’t have good hatching chances.

The embryos that respond to light with the 30-second mark should be returned to the nest. 

Will a Hen Sit On Rotten Eggs?

A broody hen will generally continue to sit on a clutch of eggs for the entire 21-30 day incubation period.

The concept that chickens will kick out or separate dud eggs from the good ones isn’t true.

Broody chickens don’t have a natural instinct that lets them tell the good eggs from the bad ones. 

However, that doesn’t mean chicken keepers can’t help their broody hens out a bit.

Candling at the 21-day mark will help you separate the good eggs from the infertile ones.

If you run into dud eggs, you should fish them out of the nest yourself instead of waiting for your chicken to do the honors. 

Interestingly enough, it’s not unheard of for broody hens to kick out healthy eggs out of the nest.

If you happen to run into eggs that you suspect your chicken has dislodged, it’s best to check on the egg’s well-being via candling before chucking them out. 

Can Rotten Eggs Contaminate Other Eggs?

An egg with cracks oozing slime or is covered in some type of growth can be a potential danger to others in the clutch.

That’s because the bacteria present in such eggs can harm the healthy specimens, even when they’re close to hatching. 

That’s one reason why candling is such an important process.

It helps chicken keepers keep track of egg health and remove any duds before they become problematic.

If you’ve managed to locate dud eggs during incubation, always remove them from the clutch.

This will increase the chances of a healthier egg yield.

Otherwise, you run the risk of putting the entire clutch at risk. 

Wrapping Up

We’ve reached the end of our egg-centric guide and hope all your questions have been answered.

Remember, while your broody chicken has good instincts, it will need help from you during the incubation process. 

Broody chickens generally can’t tell healthy eggs from dud ones, so you must stay on guard.

Keep track of your candling schedule and note down the health of the eggs throughout the incubation process; you’ll do just fine.

As always, don’t hesitate to use the comment section below if you have queries.

We always look forward to hearing from our readers. 


We at birdcageshere.com write about bird health and diet however it should not be taken as medical advice. For advice on your bird you need to seek out an avian vet. The information you find on birdcageshere.com is for educational purposes only. At birdcageshere.com we are not liable for any information that you may find on here. Birdcageshere is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice about your bird.