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How to handle different Due Dates in Incubator

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Let's start with this is my first time breeding my chickens (and I don't know how to make this a short question!). I keep 23 hens together that have never been bred, and I have my 8 roosters kept together in a different area. I picked one rooster and 3 hens to breed and moved them into a private honeymoon suite together for a month. The 3 hens are still separate, but the rooster went back to the bachelor pad. 

Now we can start counting all the mistakes I've made...

 

1. I saved a clutch of 12 eggs and put them under my broody hen, only to discover the other chickens in the hen house would lay their own eggs in her nest - and break her fertile eggs! Only 2 eggs survived to 21 days, and neither hatched.

 

2. All this time more fertile eggs were being laid, so I put the next 20 into an incubator and 16 hatched into strong and healthy chicks!

 

3. I might have been done at this point except that my 3 hens continued to lay fertile eggs for 3 weeks after the rooster moved out, so the next batch of 15 went under the broody hen again, but I fenced off a part of the hen house for her to be left alone. Two things happened; first, another hen went broody, sneaked in and started sharing her nest. Second, some of the other hens were apparently sneaking in again to lay unfertilized eggs, destroy fertile eggs and sneak out again, which I didn't realize until I checked on the eggs at day 21. In the end I had 12 eggs - 5 fertile (marked) and 7 infertile (unmarked) in the nest. Only one egg hatched and now I have two moms over protecting it. 

 

4. The 3 fertile hens kept laying and I had fertile eggs everywhere, but collected another 20 by the time my incubator was ready for another round. (I'm trying dry incubation this time) 

 

5. Which brings me to the 3 fertile hens again. One went broody and didn't want me to take the 4 eggs she had in their nest to add to my incubator, so I decided to let her sit on them. The problem is that the other 2 fertile hens kept laying eggs in that group nest for another week, until they went broody too. Now I have all 3 hens crammed in one nest a foot off the ground, with about 20 eggs that started incubation on different days over roughly a 10 day span. 

 

I don't want 5 hens all being broody (2 raising one chick now, and 3 sharing a 20-egg nest). I don't want chicks to hatch in this nest a foot off the ground and fall.  I've borrowed a second incubator and I'd like to put their eggs into the second incubator and all three (now formerly) fertile hens back in the hen house. The problem is that I don't know which eggs were start when, so I don't know how long to run the egg turner or when to remove it. And these are all blue eggs, and I've had no luck candling them - I've just waited 22 days and then float test any eggs before throwing them away.  

 

If you've read this far - thank you! And I'd be grateful for any suggestions on how I might be able to successfully hatch this last batch of eggs. 

post #2 of 5

Just get them each a nest and split up the eggs between them. If you really want to break a broody know that it will take a week or much longer depending how long they've been brooding. It's a darned if you do dang if you don't thing. If brooding for a week then will be another 2 to 3 weeks before they start laying again. Well if you let it hatch then that's 2 weeks then maybe 4 more before coming back to lay. Out a few extra weeks but that's worth the ease of hen doing all the work of hatch and brood. Don't even worry about a little one foot drop from nest. You will want a ramp for the chicks to walk back up though. 

 

What you can do is wait for the hatch and take the eggs that didn't hatch to put in incubator. Have it running and waiting. The hens will stay on nest for day or two after first chick hatches so that covers few days. What's left pop in the incubator and expect to hatch every day for few more days there. You should be able to slip them under one of the brooding birds with least chick from that recent hatch not the one way back with one chick. 

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Good Idea - thank you! I can wait to incubate whatever the hens don't hatch. And it helps to know the chicks can survive a one foot drop; that had me really worried.

 

And I don't mind that the hens aren't laying eggs. I'd just like to get them back to eating and drinking and doing stuff again. I guess the hens don't starve somehow, but I never see them off the nest. (I slip them a piece of fruit sometimes to get some food and moisture into their systems, but they usually seem insulted that I've fouled their nest with a juicy snack.)

post #4 of 5

They come off the nest once a day to eat, drink and leave one of those near baseball sized poops. Broody poop is hard to miss but easily avoided when stepping.

 

Chicks skydive from much higher than 1 foot. I was shocked when the first hen reared brood all jumped down from 3 ft to get into the run with mom. I'd put feed and water in coop for them and assumed they'd stay in there. Not the case at all, when she leaves they follow. Quickly built a ramp to replace the ladder and they still would walk off the edge or feel it was taking too long walking down the ramp and jump off that. Heard that with free range birds on the farms hens would hatch them in hay lofts and then the chicks would jump off that. Those heights I'd think they must have bales of hay under to land on.

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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post #5 of 5

Egghead hit the nail on the head. This is the situation that I encountered when I decided to let one of my hens go broody. She had 21 eggs that she was sitting on, and about a week in her sister joined her and they split the eggs. I was trying to remove any fresh eggs from the other hens daily but it didn't always go right (the standard eggs were easy as this was a nest of bantams, but I still had three other laying bantams to battle). I had six hatch, waited a couple of days, and then I took the rest and candled them and put "possible hatchers" in the incubator. Now my hens are co-mothering eggs hatched 4/22, 4/29, 5/2,  and 5/7. The last three hatched last night (though these were a batch that I put in and were supposed to hatch this weekend with my turkeys and guineas) so they will be going with the rest of them once they are dry and a little more steady on their feet. I was able to set up a brooder coop and run under my main coop, and it has a foot drop to the ground. The chicks hop down easy but I ended up stacking some pieces of wood in a stair step fashion for them to get back up. I tried a ramp but sometimes the chicks would go under it and get lost!

 

So far I have not had any trouble with adding new chicks and hopefully it goes smoothly with these last three. I will be giving the guineas and turkeys to another of my broody hens, though the turkeys will probably outgrow her in a couple weeks :)

Japanese, OEG, Sebright, Brahmn, d'Uccle, and EE bantams; and RIR, BR, and EEs, Golden Penciled Hamburg, EEs, Anconas, Bielefelders, Wheaten Marans, Speckled Sussex, and a surprise variety of bantams with breeds tbd!

 

16 guineas and 2 turkeys to round out the flock

 

Another victim of poultry math. Aiming for a "designer" flock and egg basket :)

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Japanese, OEG, Sebright, Brahmn, d'Uccle, and EE bantams; and RIR, BR, and EEs, Golden Penciled Hamburg, EEs, Anconas, Bielefelders, Wheaten Marans, Speckled Sussex, and a surprise variety of bantams with breeds tbd!

 

16 guineas and 2 turkeys to round out the flock

 

Another victim of poultry math. Aiming for a "designer" flock and egg basket :)

Reply
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