Asking advice on having broody Silkie hatch eggs

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by hanselong, May 28, 2011.

  1. hanselong

    hanselong Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 1, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Hi all,

    Last year, March 29, 2010, I got my very first ever day-old chickens and ventured into raising a chicken in my back yard in the City of Seattle proper (a very urban place).

    At the time, I got three little baby chicks: an Easter Egger ("Eggy"), Silver-Grey Dorking ("Dorky"), and a Silkie ("Silky").

    Without realizing it, over a year have passed and a few days ago, Silky became very broody and have entered the "pancake" stage where she flattens herself as much as possible over all the eggs.

    It made me very sad that she's just sitting on unfertilized eggs so I sought local farmers for *any* fertilized chicken eggs that are viable to be hatched so I can have Silky hatch 'em and be a mother hen.

    Before I get the fertilized eggs, I was hoping for some advice from the awesome collective that is the wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable members of this awesome forum.

    Namely, I have four (and a half) questions:

    1. Is there a proper way to transport the fertilized eggs from the farm to my house? (The farm is about an hour drive away from my house, not factoring in traffic).
    2. This ties into the first question, but - do fertilized eggs have to be incubated immediately (either by having a broody hen incubate it or by using an incubator)? Or is there some kind of "grace period" during which I can "wait" before beginning the incubation process?
    3. Considering that Silky became broody a few days ago, how likely is it for her to remain broody long enough to hatch fertilized eggs that I put under her within the next week?
    4. Last but not least - should I move Silky to a warmer coop/brooding area separate from the other two chickens, or should I simply partition her nesting area out from the other two chickens and buff up the insulation (mainly straw and wood shavings) around her? Either way - how much space should I afford her (considering she won't move much - I intended to place a feeder and waterer right by her to make it easier for her)?

    Thank you very much in advance!

    Picture references:

    My chicken tractor (picture was taken around Christmas 2010 when it actually snowed in Seattle!)
    Note that if I place a partition where I marked it, Silky would have about 2'x2' (width and length) area all to herself.
    And... I've been thinking of making that tractor bigger for a while... I guess I will actually have a pressing need to do so if I get more chicks!

    [​IMG]



    Inside the nesting area (you can see straw in the picture, but I put a nice thick layer of wood shavings in the bottom part first to trap heat better)

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Let me give you two things to read. I think they will help you.

    Isolate a Broody? Thread
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=213218

    Texas A&M Incubation site
    http://gallus.tamu.edu/library/extpublications/b6092.pdf


    1. Is there a proper way to transport the fertilized eggs from the farm to my house? (The farm is about an hour drive away from my house, not factoring in traffic).

    For that length of time, position is not real important. Either flat on the side or pointy end down are either one fine. I would not transport them pointy end up. You do not want the air sac trying to move to the wrong end.

    Try to not shake them up any more than you have to. If you transport them in an egg carton, which is what I would do, make sure the egg carton cannot slide around. Maybe try to cushion it a little. And do not leave them where they can get heated up by the sun.

    2. This ties into the first question, but - do fertilized eggs have to be incubated immediately (either by having a broody hen incubate it or by using an incubator)? Or is there some kind of "grace period" during which I can "wait" before beginning the incubation process?

    Check the Texas A&M Article. It gives pretty good info on this. You don't have to turn them the first few days, but I put mine in the turner while I'm collecting enough so mine do get turned. Don't freak out over the storage temperature they give. Just do the best you can and you should be OK. That temperature range is ideal, not absolutely required. It is better to start the eggs within a week of them being laid, but a broody hen will lay one egg a day until she has a dozen eggs or more before she goes broody and most will still hatch. She does not turn them three times a day either.

    3. Considering that Silky became broody a few days ago, how likely is it for her to remain broody long enough to hatch fertilized eggs that I put under her within the next week?

    You are dealing with living animals so anything can happen, but I'd think her chances of hatching the eggs are very good. Just keep one or two eggs under ther until you are ready to set the other eggs. These can be real eggs or fake eggs.

    4. Last but not least - should I move Silky to a warmer coop/brooding area separate from the other two chickens, or should I simply partition her nesting area out from the other two chickens and buff up the insulation (mainly straw and wood shavings) around her? Either way - how much space should I afford her (considering she won't move much - I intended to place a feeder and waterer right by her to make it easier for her)?

    This is why I gave you the other thread. People successfully do this different ways. I've got a lot more room than you do, so I have no direct experience with a broody and others in that small a space. I don't see another nest box in there, so the other hens will have to lay with the Silkie, which could cause a problem. Sometimes other hens lay in the nest with broodies and don't have any problems, but sometimes the broody does not want to share the nest and tries to physically keep them out. Don't forget the needs of your other two chickens.

    If you give her a private space, it needs to be predator proof. Give her a nest, protected from the weather and preferably kind of dark. Don't worry about keeping it warm. She'll take care of that, but do keep it where the wind or rain cannot get to the nest. Broodies seem to like darker areas. She needs enough room for feed, water, and to come off the nest and go poo. You'll likely have to occasionally clean that poop out so you need access to that area. I don't have Silies so I am not sure how much room she needs for that. I'd think 2' x 2' would probably be big enough if the nest was not included in this area. Many people use large dog crates for a broody isolation area. Instead of buying new, you might find something suitable on Craigslist. That could save a few dollars.

    Hope you find something here that helps. Good luck!
     
  3. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Great advice above... couldn't have said it better! [​IMG]
     
  4. hanselong

    hanselong Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 1, 2010
    Seattle, WA
    Thank you very much for the links and the excellent advice, Ridgerunner!

    I'm picking up the fertilized eggs tomorrow! So excited!

    After reading a bunch (I didn't sleep all last night 'til about 6am this morning) - I think I'm going to put her into a broody isolation area but keep her near the tractor so hopefully there's still some "socialization" there for her.

    Thank you very very much again!
     

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