Help - I have so many questions! This is our first attempt at having baby chicks. We're doing it all natural.
We're at about day 17 with our broody little Australorp, Olivia, sitting on eggs that are hers and some other hens' as well. She's just a year old and had gone broody a few times already, before we had a rooster.
She and her two roost-mates spent time off and on with the rooster for about 3 days before she went broody, and I added two eggs from the rooster's long-time harem on the same day I stopped taking eggs from the nest where Olivia is. We had two Australs and a RIR hen, and then I got a pre-fab flock of 6 mature hens and a rooster; we kept them separate for the full 30 days before letting them mix. They still sleep in separate coops. So, there should be at least two fertilized eggs, but I wonder if any of the Australs' eggs might be fertilized, too.
How long after mating does the hen produce a fertilized egg?
From candling, we think there are at least a couple of developing chicks, but we really don't know what we're doing. We did get rid of some eggs that were not developing - that was last week - but I don't even know how many she's sitting on. We've not candled all the eggs for fear of upsetting Olivia too much.
She's in a milk crate size nesting box [solid side plastic] and I have to move it because it's up on a platform and the chicks would fall off. I've read that the best time to move it is at night, so that's what I'm planning on doing.
Should I remove the actual nest, too, and put it in a bigger nesting box,or is a milk crate big enough for the hatching chicks?
She's being guarded by her sister and the RIR, so I wonder if she'll freak out being separated from them?
Any advice on the whole process is greatly appreciated!