Could I let a hen hatch eggs?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by lablover, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. lablover

    lablover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 7, 2012
    I have a 4x8 chicken tractor attached to a 14x14 run. The coop door is opened in the morning so the chickens can be in the run. About noon, the chickens are let out to free range. I have 5 hens and 1 roo. I would love to let a hen hatch eggs, but I'm afraid that I don't have the place to do that. Surely I can't keep them all in the tractor at night! Wouldn't I have to separate them?
  2. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    If one of your hens goes broody, you can fix her a special place to rear her young. She needs a dry nest and a little room to move around and get food and water. That's all! Go ahead and invest in something like this, it can be used as a hospital ward for sick or injured birds or as a brooder for chicks. There are some nice examples on this site. The size could be as small as 2'x3'' but make sure it is easy to clean because broody poo is awful! [​IMG] I like this one
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  3. lablover

    lablover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 7, 2012
    Really!? I do have a small box with a chicken wire (doubled a few times lol) bottom. It's up off the ground... I used it for my 8 chicks when they were too small to live outside. I've even kept a hen in it overnight when she was heat stressed. I'll need to measure it though.
  4. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    I keep my brooding hens in a 2'x3' bird cage I picked up for $2 at a yard sale. I kept broody LF Cochins in it last year (BIG girls) and they were fine. Room for food, water, the nest and space to poop. I'd just go out with a kitty litter scoop and remove waste everyday. I'm keeping Silkies this year, I'd imagine they'll be much more comfy in it since they're much smaller. I've also had hens brood in 5 gallon buckets, rubbermaid totes and in the corner of the coop on the floor. Just goes to show they don't need anything fancy :)
  5. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    I agree that the accommodations don't need to be fancy, but it does need to be roomy enough to hold the hen and her brood for a week or two. Yes, I know, there are ways to make due with less, but if you are going to build one, I would suggest making it AT LEAST 2x2x4. The nest in one end and the food in the other. I have one that size and it is very versatile.
  6. Chick_In_The_Burbs

    Chick_In_The_Burbs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2010
    Western Washington
    I have a rabbit hutch set up for future banty broodies. I used a dog crate(in the coop) in the past and just locked the rest of the hens out of the coop during the afternoon and opened the crate door then. She never got up for longer than 15 minutes so it wasn't a big deal. :)
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You don’t have to do anything but sometimes certain choices are better than others. Hens have been hatching and raising chicks with the flock for thousands of years without being separated, but they generally have plenty of room to work. I’m not 100% sure you do. I think initially you will, but not later when they grow. My grow-out coop is 4’ x 8’ and the attached run is 8’ x 12’. I’m trying to visualize your larger run. You probably have enough room that a broody could manage, but not with a lot to spare.

    Part of her hatching them depends in what the inside of your coop looks like and how many nests you have. Some broodies are OK to share their nests with other hens for them to lay with her and some are really protective of their nest. If you don’t have at least one extra nest, forget it and find her a separate place to brood the eggs. With just one extra nest, she can probably manage and I’d probably try it. But I won’t argue with you a bit if you decide to separate her.

    If you do separate her, do like the others said and fine a place to lock her up and lock the others out. I’m reading this that you don’t have one yet that has gone broody. You are just asking in case one does. When you get one that goes broody, move her at night after it is really dark with as little light and commotion as possible, and lock her in there with fake eggs to see if she takes to the new nest. Most will but occasionally some don’t. It usually helps if the new nest is fairly dark, or at least not in bright light. I’d even suggest locking her in that new nest for most of the next day. Broodies normally only come off the nest once a day to eat, drink, and take their daily constitutional. As long as it is not an oven where you cook her, it is not the least bit cruel to leave her locked in there like that. Collect all the eggs you want her to hatch and give them to her at the same time. Some people say to give her the eggs after dark but I’ve never waited like that and it has never been a problem.

    If you decide to let her hatch with the flock, gather all the eggs you want her to hatch and mark them. I use a Sharpie and make two circles around them, one the short way and one the long, so I can tell at a glance which eggs belong. Then once a day at the end of the day check under her and remove any that don’t belong. Those are still good to use as long as you collect them every day.

    As far as her raising them with the flock, I think you would have enough room to start with. I have more space than that but I have more chickens too. You’d be surprised how well most broodies can do. My concern would be when the chicks grow some. That coop especially will get crowded as they grow.

    One thing I would be a bit careful of. You can leave them locked in there overnight, but especially after they hatch, I’d open the coop up pretty darn early after they wake up. Your coop is really not big enough for many more chickens than you already have. I don’t know how many you plan to hatch but about the time the broody weans those chicks, I think it will get real crowded. You really need to have a plan for that.
  8. lablover

    lablover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 7, 2012
    So it would be safer to separate the hen. In the coop, I have an open nest. It's 3 feet long, and maybe 1.5 feet wide. The hens all lay their egg in one little spot, so I could easily put up dividers.

    I haven't had one go broody yet, so yes I'm just preparing for if I want to let one hatch eggs vs. incubating.

    I measured the little hutch I have, and it is 3ft long, 2ft. wide, and 1.5 ft tall on the shortest end. It has a sloping roof, so the back side is a bit taller.
    What if I build another run next to the one I have to keep the hen and chicks in. What would I use for them to sleep in and feel safe in? And what about if it rains?
  9. Wisher1000

    Wisher1000 Bama Biddy

    If your hutch is secure enough to protect her, you wouldn't need any more room than that until the chicks hatch. You could put the hutch in the garage, on a porch, or in a shed (as long as it won't get too hot.) You could even build a roof for it. When they are broody, they sit on the eggs, get up to eat, drink, and poop, and they go back to sit some more. Since you don't have a broody hen at the moment, you have some time to get it right before you have to decide.

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