First time. Any tips?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by DiscoverwithDave, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. DiscoverwithDave

    DiscoverwithDave Chirping

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    Nov 10, 2018
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    My Coop
    I currently have 3 chickens and 2 Guinea hens. My Red cross chicken has been broody on and off. I should be receiving 6 fertilized eggs this week. I want to put them in the coop for her to hatch. I wanted to make sure that the Guineas and others don't bother her or the chicks so I made a cage and put inside the coop. I have many questions such as when the eggs arrive and I put them in the coop will she sit on them right away? Does she have to sit on them every second? What if she gets up and walks out for an hour or two, will that affect the eggs? WIth cold weather this week...should I heat the coop?
    I would love your tips, opinions, and wisdom.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    Fist, no one can give you guarantees as to what will happen when you deal with living animals. Real life doesn't work that way. We can give you some suggestions to improve your odds of success however.

    You are wanting to isolate your broody hen in the coop so she can incubate and hatch with no interference from your other animals. Nothing wrong with that plan, lots of people do something similar. The biggest risk in doing that is that it is possible the broody hen will break from being broody when you try to move her. Lots of people relocate broody hens regularly without too many issues but it is a risk.

    I don't know what the cage you built looks like or what the nest looks like. I've found that it works best to move a broody if the new nest area is fairly dark. That can be the nest only or the entire cage, though eventually you want her to have enough light to see to eat and drink. That cage needs to be locked and tight enough that the broody hen cannot return to her old nest and no other chicken or guinea can get in with her. That cage also needs to be tight enough that a baby chick cannot escape and leave its mother's protection. The cage needs to be big enough for a nest, food and water, and a little room to go poop. She will probably poop in the food and/or water even if you give her room but she should know to not go poop in the nest. You will probably have to do some cleaning so give yourself access.

    I like to make the nest so I can lock a hen in it, in addition to locking her in the cage. When I move a hen I move her at night after it is good and dark, using as little light and commotion as I reasonably can. I lock her inside that nest for the next day, all day, and open the nest into the cage the next morning, though you can try opening it just before dark at the end of that first day. Locking them in a dark nest like that seems to really help them accept the move. Have some sacrificial eggs, just a few will do, hens can't count. Move the eggs with her and toss them when you replace them with the fertile eggs. This is a bit over the top, many don't go to this much trouble and it still usually works. I think having the nest kind of dark and locking her in the nest that first day helps improve your odds. Definitely give her sacrificial eggs.

    This way you can see that she has accepted the move before you give her the valuable eggs. If she doesn't accept the move (she probably will) you may have to let her go back to her old nest to try to incubate. You may have no choice but to try that. If that happens mark the eggs you want her to hatch (I use a black Sharpie) and check under her every day after the others have laid to remove any eggs that don't belong. be a bit patient when she first comes off the nest. She may pace or try to get out initially, probably will. But within an hour she should go back to the new nest.

    You do not need to heat the coop. Hens have hatched eggs when outside temperatures are below freezing. I don't know what you mean by cold but heating the coop is not necessary and could cause problems.

    What typically happens with a broody hen is that she leaves the nest occasionally to eat drink, and poop. Your cage needs to be big enough for her to do that. I've seen broody hens hatching with the flock and not in a cage leave the nest twice a day for over an hour each time. I've seen a broody hen leave her nest once a day for about 15 minutes. I've never seen some broody hens leave their nest but they do, I just don't see them. The reason I know they are leaving the nest is that they do not poop in the nest.

    Good luck and welcome to the hatching adventure.
     
    DiscoverwithDave likes this.
  3. DiscoverwithDave

    DiscoverwithDave Chirping

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    My Coop
    Wow, Wow, Thank you for spending the time to provide me all that information!!! I will reread a few times. Here is a pic of the cage I made and put in my coop.
    IMG_20190403_162014156_HDR.jpg

    I also put a brooder in there for after the chicks are born to keep warm, but sounds like you think they might not need that? When I raised my first chicks inside house last year they were already about a week or so old and I used this brooder and kept raising height each week. Thought it might be useful, but maybe takes up too much room?
    IMG_20190403_163807760.jpg
     
    Tuhmu likes this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    I don't know what kind of cold you are expecting in New York in May but the broody hen will provide all the warmth the chicks need.
     
  5. DiscoverwithDave

    DiscoverwithDave Chirping

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    Nov 10, 2018
    New York
    My Coop
    Thank you again! I just got the email that my eggs have been shipped and are on the way.
    2 White Plymouth Rock
    2 Easter Egger
    1 Black Australorp
    1 Speckled Sussex
    I guess it is 50/50 if female. We are not allowed to have males/ roosters here, so I hope we get mostly females. Is there a trick to tell when they are young? Someone said there feathers different??
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    With those breeds there are several tricks, supporting them with a string to see how they spin, maybe looking at feathers, holding them upside down, and who knows how many more. As far as I'm concerned each method is as good as the other, and each method has a 50-50 chance of being right for each chick. You might as well flip a coin.
     

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