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I'm new! Questions about brooding

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi guys! I'm thinking about raising hens for laying and I'm a beginner, I have a couple question!

1. How many on average will a hen hatch at one time?

2. If I let her hatch her chicks would it be ok to let her just hatch 2-3?

3. Should you keep the chicks and hen away from the rooster and other hens?

4. If I decide to incubate some eggs that hens won't go Broody, how to do tell if their fertil? I know you need a rooster but how do you make sure the egg is fertil before you incubate?
post #2 of 5

Welcome to BYC! :)

 

Hens can usually hatch from 1 to 8 eggs, they can hatch more sometimes but some of the eggs don't stay as warm or may get rolled out of the nest by accident. It would be fine to just let her hatch 2-3, just remember that likely half will be roosters and probably not all the eggs will hatch, but they might. I would personally keep the mama and babies separate from the rest of the flock so the chicks won't be trampled or killed.

 

To tell if an egg is fertile you have to crack it open, but if one egg from a hen is fertile chances are her other eggs will be too. Here is a great thread to tell if an egg is fertile http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/16008/how-to-tell-a-fertile-vs-infertile-egg-pictures

 

Just to warn you there is something we call chicken math that almost all poultry keepers fall victim to LOL. Here is a thread about it  http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/959472/chicken-math#post_14931451 :D

17+ pigeons, about 20 coturnix quail, 10 chickens and 2 angora rabbits
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17+ pigeons, about 20 coturnix quail, 10 chickens and 2 angora rabbits
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much! This really helped!
post #4 of 5
All good questions.

1. How many on average will a hen hatch at one time?
Hens and eggs come in different sizes. A very small bantam may have trouble covering 4 regular sized eggs. A large fowl hen can cover a lot more. Different hens have different shapes. I normally give a hen 12 eggs of the size she lays but I’ve had a few where 10 was a full load for her. I’ve seen a hen hide a nest and hatch 18 chicks. I never did fine her nest so I don’t know how many eggs she had.

2. If I let her hatch her chicks would it be ok to let her just hatch 2-3?
Not all eggs that are set always hatch. You never know how many chicks you will get or the sex of those chicks. That’s one complication. The hen will be quite happy whether she has one chick or 18. You need a plan for all the chicks she might hatch (male and female), it’s always possible every egg will hatch, so never set more eggs than you want chicks. Still, chickens are social animals and after the hen weans her chick or chicks, the chicks will sort of form their own sub-flock until they mature enough to force their way into the pecking order, so I’d like to have at least two chicks.

3. Should you keep the chicks and hen away from the rooster and other hens?
People do it all sorts of ways. Some isolate, some don’t. I let my hens raise the chicks with the flock. How much space you have makes a difference but if space is too tight for a hen to raise the chicks with the flock you are probably going to have an awful time integrating them later.

You are dealing with living animals so no one can give you any guarantees. We can tell you what our experience is but you are unique with unique animals and a unique set-up plus your management techniques may be different. If you introduce the chicks to the rooster while they are still chicks he is probably going to see them as his offspring. It is possible he will help Mama raise them but at the least I’ve never had a mature rooster ever threaten a young chick.

Most of the time my other hens don’t bother the chicks unless the chicks invade their personal space. Then they tend to peck them to teach them it is bad manners to bother their betters. The chick runs back to Mama and everything is fine. Some broody hens tend to keep their chicks really close, some let them roam further. Some broody hens attack any chicken that gets close to their chicks (except the dominant rooster usually) some are more laid back about it, but I’ve never had a broody hen that failed to protect a threatened chick. Some people say they have and I believe them. You are dealing with living animals, no guarantees of anything.

4. If I decide to incubate some eggs that hens won't go Broody, how to do tell if their fertil? I know you need a rooster but how do you make sure the egg is fertil before you incubate?

There is no practical way for us to ensure an egg is fertile without opening it, then you can’t hatch it. But you can open an egg and look for the bull’s eye. If the eggs you open have the bull’s eye, then the eggs you don’t open should too. This thread might help.

Fertile Egg Photos
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/16008/how-to-tell-a-fertile-vs-infertile-egg-pictures

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
So in-depth! Thank you!
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