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Incubater or broody hen

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by roswell21356, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. roswell21356

    roswell21356 Hatching

    Oct 18, 2016
    So I have a large chicken coop and my hens are now old so I'm wanting to get hatch new chicks and I figured out the best incubater to use but I was wondering if an incubater is really worth it

    Should I buy an incubater or would it be easier to buy a broody hen to hatch them

  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Both methods have pros and cons.

    Broody hens may seem easier, but when it comes to the actual incubation process, it's really just as time consuming as an incubator. First, you will need to have a hen go broody. This is just a matter of having a broody breed and waiting. Hens may not brood when you want, in fact they will likely brood at the exact opposite time. However, if the bird has the instinct to brood, she eventually will. Once she has done that, you will need to separate her to her own area with feed and water. After that, just give her some eggs and wait. She will hatch them out and the hen and chicks can be reintroduced to the flock at 8-10 weeks of age. Mind - these are living creatures, so they are subject to their own quirks and whims. Some hens may not be good mothers.

    An incubator, of course, is more controllable. You decide when to brood, and can control the exact factors of the incubation environment. A good starter incubator (I'm talking a proper forced air machine here, not a styro-crap-bator) will probably cost you a good investment of $150-$300, but it will also last you years and give you good hatches. In a single season, I've hatched 100+ chicks out of a $150 incubator. If I continue to use it yearly, and it lasts at least, for example, 5 more years, I could produce 500+ chicks - a good return on an investment of $150. Obviously, not everyone WANTS to produce that many chicks, but in any case it's a testament to the usefulness of these machines. Aside from the investment, many incubators are set it and forget it - most machines fully control temperature and turning, and digitally controllable humidity is somewhat common as well. Also - an incubator can't crush or kill your chicks.

    Everyone will have their own opinions on this subject. Personally I prefer incubators, as I have maximum control of the incubation and hatching process. I do have one hen I allow to brood, but even her I do not give my important eggs - she gets dual purpose mutt babies to raise.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    If its just for stock replacement, and not a breeding programme that you wish to get into, why not just buy day-old chicks, or Point of Lay pullets? I have used broody hens in the past, but waiting for them go broody irritated me, so i got a bator. There's nothing nicer than seeing a broody hen with her chicks around the place though [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  4. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Howdy roswell21356

    Never having used an incubator, I stick with the method I know, a broody hen.

    However, having said that, I would not buy a broody hen to hatch them because unless you are able to buy an actual broody ready to sit on the eggs, she will probably not be happy on her own and is going to have to at least go through the quarantine period and then integration. If she is actually broody when you buy her, then she would be quite happy on her own but would still need somewhere safe and separate from your existing flock and then, if you do not plan to keep her and the chicks separate from the existing flock, they are going to need to be integrated.

    If I was in your shoes, I would go down the incubator path or as CTKen has suggested, point of lay pullets which you could quarantine together and integrate.

    I have a small pet flock and love my broodies. If I have suffered any loses and someone goes broody, I get her some fertile eggs to increase numbers again but if I had an actual plan for my flock, like QueenMisha I would not trust a broody to stick to that plan, they have a mind of their own [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
    1 person likes this.

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