I've tried a dozen times letting broody hens take on a clutch of eggs. And I can say that I've only had three or four live to chicken-adulthood.
I've had a hen set on eggs the entire time, and then freak out when the chicks hatched. And as in freak out, I mean peck them to death. Each and every one of them.
One hen sat on eggs for weeks, then end up crushing each and every one of the almost-developed eggs, leaving a sticky mess of unborn chick and yolk mess under her and in the nest.
Two sets went broody two years ago right in the middle of our drought / heat wave. Every egg either broke, exploded or was otherwise a dud.
I've had hens secretly go into the woods and hatch out a half-dozen chicks, then lose them one by one each night to predators.
Then there are my all time favorite birdbrains; the hens that start a clutch of eggs, or even take over another hen's eggs, then decide to eat the eggs. Like five or six in one night. Oh, I'm a little bit hungry this morning, maybe I'll just eat my unborn children instead of walking ten feet to the chicken feeder.
That last scenario was the most recent of the Bad Chicken Mommy events. The past week I've noticed that there were two kind'a broody looking hens in the coop. You know. Puff up like they're going to peck your eyeballs out, make a gawdawful chicken screeching sound when you get close to them, and then draw blood from your hand when trying to collect eggs from them.
So instead of bringing in my half-dozen eggs (pathetic amount, btw), I put them under what I thought was the broodiest of the broody hens. And this morning I checked on them. Broody #1 had eaten all but one of the eggs. Broody #2 was still sitting and puffing up even though she was sitting on nothing. Guess it goes to show you that I have absolutely no idea how to judge the potential mothering instincts of poultry.
Now that I've identified the hen with infanticide in her genetic makeup, I'm going to lop off her head. Yes, I'm going to kill something because that something killed something. Nice, hugh? But egg-eating chickens are good for nothing other than the soup pot.....or a nice pan of chicken and goat cheese enchiladas.
I'll gather the rest of today's eggs and put them under Broody #2. And she better have those same eggs underneath her tomorrow morning or......