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Natural Hatching Questions

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I have 12 hens and 2 roosters in my flock, most are RIR and a few other barred rock, leghorn, etc.

 

My question is what all do I need to do for them to hatch chicks? they were all born 5/7/15 so should be laying/breeding in October. I don't want to use an incubator but would rather have the mother hen sit on the eggs and turn them and then raise the chicks.

 

Do you just not take any eggs out of the nest? anything else need to be done?

Can they only have chicks in the spring or can they have them year around.

Do I need to separate out the rooster and hen? I plan on selling the other rooster.


Edited by cj4140 - 9/23/15 at 6:48am
post #2 of 5

Welcome to BYC!

 

Spring and early summer are usually considered the best time to raise chicks due to a variety of factors (increased fertility of rooster and eggs, better nutrition from having fresh greens to eat, increasing day length, etc).

 

You'll need a broody hen and fertile eggs to pull this off.  With a rooster in the flock, it sounds like you have the fertile eggs part of the equation covered.  The breeds you mentioned are not likely to go broody, but there are exceptions.  There's really no way to make a hen "go broody".  It totally depends on the hen.  For a hen who is already genetically predisposed to go broody, the increasing day length of spring usually brings on broodiness (although some hens will go broody anytime of year).  A hen who is broody will stay on the nest all day and night, only getting off for 10-15 minutes per day to eat, drink and poo.  If a hen is already predisposed to go broody, it may help to let eggs accumulate in the nest in the spring.  

 

If you have a hen go broody, you can decide which eggs you want her to incubate.  For example, you can choose eggs from your best laying hens to put under her.  There's much more information about broody hens in the Learning Center.  

 

It's absolutely delightful to watch a hen with her chicks, and it's so much less work as she does all of the work for you!

The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 


Heres what I have

 

4 red star females

1 black star females

2 buff ops females

4 RIR females

 

any of those go broody?

post #4 of 5

Nto sure about which breeds have a greater tendency to go broody, but you may a bit of a wait on your hands as once your hens do start laying, they may do so for 3-4 weeks before showing any signs of being broody. Even if one does show these signs, it may be good to wait for a week after a hen going broody. They are young and inexperienced so they may only go "partially" broody, i.e. sit in a nest for most of the day and then decide to go out and about with the rest of the flock. Leaving eggs in a nest is not necessary. The rooster will most likely have mated with all your hens, so they do not need to be separated.

 

From my experience, its always good to use your dominant hen to hatch eggs - the chicks then get max protection from their mother and greater access to food - another thing to consider. 

 

All the best

CT

Nairobi, Kenya
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Nairobi, Kenya
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post #5 of 5

The only ones likely to go broody are the buff orpingtons.  Their reliability as broody hens varies from very good to very bad, as generations of hatchery propagation have compromised the ability of some to be good mothers.  There's so much the broody hen has to "remember" about the ancient ways of hatching and brooding chicks:  incubating the whole 21 days, allowing the eggs to hatch without crushing them, brooding the chicks to keep them warm, teaching the chicks to eat and drink, protecting the chicks, etc.  Some hens have some, but not all of these important mothering skills.  

 

Many people have used buff orpingtons to successfully hatch and raise chicks, so I'm hoping you have one or two who are wonderful mothers.  I was not so lucky with my buff orpington.  She was great at incubating eggs for the duration of the incubation period, but she crushed chicks as they tried to hatch and attacked the chicks that did hatch.  

The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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