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Artificial Incubation VS natural: Your Opinion.

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by mymilliefleur, Nov 10, 2014.

  1. mymilliefleur

    mymilliefleur Keeper of the Flock

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    Hi all!
    Here's a thread to discus incubation. Artificial VS natural. please share your opinions, experiences, pros, cons, etc.
    All posts Welcome! I will be looking forward to your replies! [​IMG]
     
  2. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The pros to natural is chicks get to have a natural chick life with a real mom.
     
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Natural incubation: For me the pros are - the hen does all the work, and does it so much better than an artificial incubator. She's the exact right temperature and humidity, and knows when the hatch is done. She's also better than putting the chicks in a brooder box. She can keep them warm, she teaches them to eat, drink, and be chickens. My broody-raised chicks are more predator-savvy, and are roosting before 1 month of age. (Not that the roosting part really matters to me, but some people find it important.) The cons - I can't hatch chicks on my own schedule.

    Artificial incubation: The only pros I can think of are - I can hatch on my schedule, and I can get more eggs in an incubator than under a hen.
     
  4. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    The pros to the natural is it seems that only chicks that are born are the ones that are meant to be born.
    The hen typically hatches a brood or two a year (Unless they are broodzillas like Silkies) when she thinks it is a good time to raise babies. The weaker ones under her care do not live, leaving the strong ones to thrive. If chicks are born in the future like people are hatching them now, their will be WAY too many chickens, there will be no way to grow enough food for them all. The ones hatched under the mother also get to know a mother, not a sterile heat lamp that offers no love. They are way better free rangers in the long run as well. Cons to a broody would be that she might kill her babies, or give up mid set.
    The pros to artificial would be if the mother gives up on the nest, and you really want them to live, you can finish them off in the incubator.
    I guess you could also hatch whenever you want to, but that is not always a good thing.
     
  5. mymilliefleur

    mymilliefleur Keeper of the Flock

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    Personally, I prefer natural incubation. the chicks always seem to grow faster, probably because they get to be out on the land right away, and aren't cooped up in a brooder. I like that the hen does the work and I don't have the stress of monitoring the incubator for three weeks. I also get MUCH better hatches with my mother hens then with my incubator.
    I have one exception to this. my D'uccle bantams I always do in the incubator for two reasons: one, I always seem to get a better hatch that way with them, and two, I want to make shore that they will be very friendly and easy to handle as I will later be selling my extras as pets.
    After the hens are done with their chicks, I separate the cockerels and pullets, (you can usually tell by then) the later goes to work up my compost piles in till fall when I put them in the freezer, and the pullets I raise up in till old enough to join my main layer flock.
    After two years of mostly artificial incubation, I am ready to go back to mother hens. They do a so much better job. [​IMG]
     
  6. darkbluespace

    darkbluespace Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think a combination of the two is perfect. I hatched a couple Silkies so I could have more broody hens. I like to have a broody to hatch Serama eggs because I can't seem to hatch them very well in the incubator and I like a broody to raise ducklings because they are sooo messy in a brooder. I like my incubators for hatching chicks and ducklings I want to sell or for eggs I don't have a broody for.
     
  7. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps


    This is not really true, a hen is not the 'right temp' she is actually too hot at about 102° -103° body temp and has to constantly adjust herself to maintain the proper incubation range (granted they do a knock out job of maintaining temp with what they have) but in all reality a good incubator does a better job of maintaining a steady temperature at a constant level over the entire incubation period... Same with humidity, a hen has pretty much no ability to alter the ambient humidity of her surroundings, if it's 95° and rain with 100% humidity for a week, then the eggs under her are sitting at about 100% humidity as she has no real means to lower humidity, and the reverse is true partially true, in low humidity situations she can (and a good broody will) raise the humidity of the eggs by dribbling water out of her beak onto them, but in either case you can get much better humidity control in an good incubator...

    And last but not least, hens don't always know when the hatch is done, they have little sense of time and are most certainly not aware of the passing of 21 days... Most will sit on the eggs for a few days after the first chick(s) hatch and then abandon the rest... This is why you can keep a bird broody for extended periods of time by simply not allowing the eggs to hatch under her...

    Now don't take the above to mean that a hen is an inferior hatching method, quit the contrary as there are a lot of factors that come into play and the blunt reality is that eggs don't need ideal conditions 100% of the incubation period to hatch and thus even with a hens inability to control temp and humidity perfectly it doesn't matter in the end if she was able to maintain it within safe levels and averages...

    We simply get to fixated on the numbers we are told to run incubators at, those numbers are just averages that have been found to work well, they are guidelines not absolutes...

    Now back to the original question, there are a lot of variables to consider...

    The biggest one for me is that I get eggs at random times throughout the year in varying quantities, and most of the time I don't have a broody hen standing by on demand to incubate but I do have an incubator that can be ready near instantly... Also I do a bunch of altered hatch dates, this year I was hatching out chicks every few days and had a steady rotating 20 or 30 eggs in my incubator at any time all summer, doing that with a broody hen is simply asking for disaster... And second I don't like variables I have little power over... For example if the broody hen just deciding she isn't broody anymore and abandons the nest, with an incubator I have redundancy built in, if the power goes out I have battery backup as well as generator backup, if something breaks I have every spare part I need to repair it... But, trust me there are days I wish I had a bird doing all the work, but I'm not ready to take on that risk of uncontrollable variables...
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Toddrick

    Toddrick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I haven't had any broody hens to go natural, but I can tell you why I like using a bator. The chicks think I'm their papa! I took them outside yesterday for the first time and they followed me all the way around the house. My adult chickens cannot be handled without a fight, which has affected my ability to monitor their health.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. mymilliefleur

    mymilliefleur Keeper of the Flock

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    You make some very good points. From the sound of things though you have a very good incubation set up. I have a ''crappy'' foam Incubator in which I only get 60-70% hatch rates. I have had the occasional lousy mother as well, but with my ''game'' and game/D'uccle crosses I get 90-100% hatch rates. Yes, you don't always know when the hens are going to go broody, but I have a very flexible schedule so this is not really a problem for me.
     
  10. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think that hatching either way is a wonderful experience. I've done both, and will probably continue to do so. I will agree with @Toddrick that broody raised chicks are "wilder" in my experience. No matter how much time I spend with them and try to show them I am not a threat they are still wild. It makes it harder to do routine health checks and whatnot. On the other hand, they also seem to be much more "safety conscious" than most of my incubator/brooder raised chicks.
     

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