A bunch of questions from a first time hatch

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by hanselong, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. hanselong

    hanselong In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Hi all - I just went through my first hatch ever and I have a bunch of questions that I would appreciate if someone can answer (thank you very much ahead of time!)

    Context: My Silkie went broody but I only have hens so I bought a dozen fertilized eggs of all different breeds (that is, if they all hatch, I'd end up with 12 different breeds of newly hatched chickens). I discovered that I could only reliably get my Silkie to sit on 9 of them, so I took the remaining 3 into a DIY incubator I made out of a diaper box, leftover styrofoam, 40w bulb, laptop cooler fan, and a thick piece of glass from a small coffee table. Surprise surprise, all 3 in my incubator hatched successfully today despite the very eventful incubation period (which includes, among others, a power outage that lasted several hours in the middle of the night until the middle of the morning, a light bulb that died during lockdown with a bright flash and an audible pop that could be heard across the room, and continual struggle to keep the temperature and humidity in the recommended zone for dry incubation).

    Questions re: baby chickens that hatched from under my broody Silkie:
    1. I know the area they're in should be water/wind/draft proof (they are outdoors in a chicken tractor with their mama Silkie who hatched them) and I had read that they'll stay close to their mama for warmth - should I still supplement their area with a heat source (e.g. lamp)?

    2. I had also read that chickens that are hatched/raised by a mama hen like that tend to be less "domesticated" (I believe the person wrote "more feral") unless they get separated from the mama hen and taken care of separately - is this true? And if so, at what point (timeframe) should I do so? When the mama hen no longer lets them get under her?

    Questions re: baby chickens that hatched from my incubator:
    1. Assuming all the eggs in the incubator have already hatched, how soon after they hatched from the incubator should/can they be moved into a brooder? Additional context: The DIY incubator and brooder are two separate self-contained units, both in my garage. I don't have any concerns with the temperature in the brooder. However, my garage has very low humidity in general (15-20% or less - I had to add a water tray all throughout the first 18 days just to get humidity in the incubator up to at least 25% even though I was doing dry incubation - and I had to run a humidifier 24/7 to release water vapors for the fan to suck directly into the incubator to get the humidity up to 65-70% during lockdown).

    2. (Follow up to #1) Alternatively, if I leave them in the incubator for a day or two, what should the condition of the incubator be? Temperature, Humidity, and how soon should I put in food/water tray for them?

    3. Now that they have imprinted on me and thinks of me as their "mama" (rofl) - what does that mean, really? Will they be expecting more attention from me? Will they always be "tame" around me? Additional context: I travel abroad from time to time, and whenever I do, it's usually for at least 3 weeks long. When this happens, my sister checks up on my chickens for me to make sure they have enough water and feed and collect eggs, if any.

    Question re: sexing new hatchlings:
    1. (I'm guessing the answer is "depending on the breed") How soon can I tell whether the chicklets are male or female?

    Last question out of curiosity based on something I noticed:
    Do newly hatched chicks help out other chicks that are hatching? I noticed with my incubated eggs that the chicks who hatched earlier would chirp at the egg with the chick trying to hatch (who then chirped in response) - I also notice them "turning" any egg(s) that have not yet pipped... Anyone else notice this?

    Again, thank you very much ahead of time!

    Hansel Ong
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2011

  2. Shannon33

    Shannon33 Songster

    Feb 23, 2010
    Eastern Shore, VA
    Hi and congrats on your hatch. I will try to answer the ones I can, at least based on my own experiences [​IMG]

    1. I have never seen a need to, Mama keeps them warm. I have only hatched during warmer months though. What are your temps?
    2. I have let Mama raise chicks all the way up (easier to have her do it than me, lol ) and still had friendly babies with interaction (ie: I am the treat lady)
    1. You can move them into the brooder as soon as they are dry and fluffed out
    2. No need to leave them in there since all have hatched.
    3. I have raised one batch of chicks in a brooder with me as Mama and to be honest I haven't noticed a big difference with how they act around me compared to ones raised outside. But I do handle them a lot and treat them and I think that definitely wins favors. Although, I think some of it depends on the individual birds personality. I have had birds I held a lot as babies still be stand offish as adults.
    1. Depends on the breed [​IMG] I think it's fair to say most you have an idea after a month or two, but depending on breed some can be sexed at birth due to color pattern, and some are notoriously hard to sex and you almost have to wait until you hear them crow, lol.

    I have seen chicks chirping at hatchmates in the egg, but I am not sure if they are encouraging or it's just a coincidence and they are just yelling "here I am!!" lol
  3. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    Quote:I agree and I really can't add anything except to say, that you can take the chicks and their shells out of the incubator as soon as they hatch and put the chicks in your brooder. I have done this many times and have no hatch problems. The chicks will hatch when they are ready.
  4. hanselong

    hanselong In the Brooder

    Apr 1, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Thank you very much for the responses, Shannon33 and cmom!

    I've taken out the 3 chickens out of the incubator and placed them in the brooder and they seem to be enjoying it [​IMG]

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