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Stimulating the setting instinct

The most critical factor for inducing females of any bird species to set on eggs is the amount of daylight each bird is exposed to every day. The increasing length of daylight hours in the spring of the year stimulates the hens to lay and roosters to begin mating. The additional daylight eventually stimulates the hen to "set" on the eggs after a sufficient number of eggs accumulates in the nest. If eggs are removed each day, the hen may never become broody and start incubating or "setting" in the nest.

After the daylength reaches its maximum (June 21) the daylength starts decreasing and egg laying and setting tendencies decrease until the shortest day of the year arrives (December 21). The cycle then begins all over again. In general, hens require about 15-16 hours of continuous light daily to maintain good egg production. These seasonal factors have developed in all birds and most mammals through millions of years of natural evolution.

Hens can be be stimulated to lay or set on eggs during any season of the year if the lighting program they receive is carefully controlled. They must be "tricked" into thinking that they are in the springtime. Place artificial lights in the house and control them with timers so that the daylength is increased to about 17 hours each and every day. Do not vary the daylength that the hens receive or they will cease to lay and set.

After the hen accumulates a nest full of eggs (a clutch) sheinstinctively starts setting and incubating them. The ease to which she accepts this incubation responsibility varies within and among breeds, strains, and families of chickens. Some hens have better "mothering" instincts, while others are not as inclined.

Almost all females will be stirred into setting on the eggs if the daylength is maintained properly and the environment around the hen is good. Provide the hen with dark, secluded areas in which to make her nest. In this way she is not distrubed while setting on the eggs. The quality of the eggs can be maintained until setting begins by replacing good "setting eggs" each day with artificial or infertile eggs. When the hen begins incubating the eggs, all eggs in the nest can be replaced with the stored fertile eggs.

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Filed Under: Commercial Fruit and Nuts, Green Industry, Organic Fruit and Vegetables, Other Vegetables, Corn, Cotton, Nuts, Peanuts, Soybeans, Equine, Goats and Sheep, Poultry, Lawn and Garden, Forestry, Seafood Economics, Seafood Harvesting and Processing March 7, 2018

ELLISVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State University representatives met with agricultural clients in Ellisville recently to discuss research and education needs for 2018. More than 115 individuals attended this year's event.

Scores of chickens are seen inside a poultry house.
Filed Under: Agricultural Economics, Poultry December 19, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The poultry industry is the giant in the state’s agricultural economy, as its estimated 2017 production value of $2.8 billion nearly doubles the value of forestry.

Early figures from the Mississippi State University Extension Service show the industry grew at an estimated 13.4 percent from the 2016 value. Brian Williams, Extension agricultural economist, said higher broiler prices are responsible for the value increase.

Dressed in a pink T-shirt and blue jeans, broiler grower Teresa Dyess stands next to two wagon wheels in front of a barn on her family farm.
Filed Under: Women for Agriculture, Poultry October 20, 2017

In three days, Teresa Dyess shifted her business focus from produce to poultry.

The change began two years ago with an offhand remark from her husband, Joe Dyess.

 “He told a broiler grower in Wayne County we wouldn’t mind building pullet houses because we wanted to diversify our farm,” she said. “We didn’t think any more about it, and then the next day a poultry processor called and offered us a contract. A banker came the next day, and everything fell into place.”

Lanette Crocker, coordinator for the MSU Extension Service in Wayne County, said Teresa Dyess’ adaptability has helped her maintain success through the farm’s transition.

Hen flock inventories grew after the poultry industry recovered from the 2015 avian influenza outbreak, increasing the number of eggs on the market and driving down the price. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
Filed Under: Poultry August 4, 2017

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Mississippi's poultry industry remains healthy with a strong demand for broilers and a positive outlook for the remainder of 2017.

Filed Under: Avian Flu March 30, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- All Mississippians who raise any species of poultry are being urged to follow strict biosecurity practices and review new requirements regarding sales and exhibitions.

Tom Tabler, poultry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said that while avian influenza is not a threat to human health or food safety, an outbreak would endanger backyard flocks and the state’s nearly $3 billion commercial poultry industry.


Farmweek, Entire Show, August 28, 2015

Season 39 Show #08

Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 7:00pm

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