I too utilize mother nature for my hatching. I currently have 5 hens sitting on 3 nests. 1 is on one and two are on the other two nests. I had my first experience with a hen hatch last year. They took 23-25 days. I notice they do happen to take a few days longer to hatch under a hen for some strange reason. Try to reisit the temptation to touch the eggs or bother the hen a lot while it is okay to take a couple eggs at a time out from under her to candle them and as suggested above I would do it around day 10. Make sure you study the candling photos you can find on the site. Candling can be VERY tricky when you are inexperienced. Also, here are the answers to your questions:
- how long do the hens sit before the chicks hatchas I said anywhere from 23-25 days
- once the chicks hatch should I dispose of the other eggs that didn't hatchIf the hen stops sitting on them yes, if she still continues to sit I would let them go a couple extra days maybe up to 28 days I have had some that took that long. Not sure why but I have seen it, so if she wants to sit let her.
- will the hens take care of the chicks or should I separatesometimes a hen can be broody but not want to mother the chicks when they hatch, you will have to watch her and see what happens. If she doesnt get off the remaining eggs, she may not mother. You may have to put them in a brooder. Either way, you will probably have to seperate them. Especially with a roo in there. He will not be prone to taking the chicks being in his territory. Also the other hens may get jealous, either way I have seen a chick get pecked to death, thankfully not one of mine but I is the most likely turnout so I would be sure to seperate the hen and the chicks, if you want to let her finish sitting then but some sort of a shield over the front of the nest with food and water in it for her and the chicks. So she can still take care of the chicks and the eggs.
- will the other hens and roosters hurt the baby chicksanswered above
Hope that helps you, HAVE FUN and good luck! It is very hard not to be impatient with hen hatching because you really cant just watch the eggs, you have to check the nest and wait lol. It is addicting though soon you will find yourself investing in an incubator!