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Incubator or Broody hen?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by caters, Nov 14, 2016.

  1. Incubator

    0 vote(s)
  2. Broody hen

    2 vote(s)
  1. caters

    caters Hatching

    Dec 10, 2015
    My momma, dad, and I plan to move soon(like in the next few years). I will always live with my momma because I love her and she helps me in tough situations.

    Anyway, when we move, we plan on getting some chickens so that we can have our own farm fresh eggs. Not sure about a rooster though, they can be aggressive. So I figured that if I want chicks, I might as well get fertile eggs and have them hatch after a few weeks.

    But I am not sure which way to go about it.

    I could buy an incubator, turn them every day, build a brooder(where the chicks will be when they hatch) etc. but it would be a lot of work. And I plan on being a doctor when I get older.

    On the other hand, I could wait until 1 or more of the hens becomes broody and let her incubate the eggs naturally.

    I personally would rather have a broody hen do the work for me. But how would I know if the hen is broody? Would pecking on my hand as I collect eggs be a sign that the hen is broody and I should get fertile eggs for her after I get the infertile eggs out of the nest?

  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    A broody hen is so much easier and more successful. The downside is that you can't make a hen go broody and even some reputably broody breeds may never set.
    If you want them to hatch their own eggs, you will need a rooster.
    I love having roosters with each flock.
    Aggressiveness has a lot to do with breed and how they were raised.
    I don't make my roosters pets and they remain aloof.
  3. caters

    caters Hatching

    Dec 10, 2015
    But still, isn't it a good idea to find a place to buy fertile eggs? I mean, even if it has to do with how the rooster was raised, I still don't know if I would want one. I mean I have seen several videos of people hatching chicks that weren't from their own hens because they didn't have roosters. Here is one of them:


    This one is part 1 of a series of videos.

    I think that whether or not the hen goes broody is different for each hen so some hens of a breed that is known to often go broody might not go broody and some hens of a breed that doesn't usually go broody might go broody.

    I have seen as many as 20 eggs being incubated by a single hen.

    But I am wondering, does the timing of hatching depend on the size of the egg? Like maybe smaller eggs hatch sooner and might need help hatching whereas bigger eggs hatch later but the chick inside the larger egg is stronger and so it does not need help?
    1 person likes this.
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    Here's the deal, even with sexed chicks, there is still a chance that you will end up with a rooster or two. Then, if you incubate eggs, at least some of the chicks that hatch will be male. You need to have a plan for those potential males.
    As for broody hens, some breeds are very prone to brooding, others have had brooding bred out almost entirely. Sure there are exceptions to every rule. But most Orpingtons, Silkies, and Cochins can counted on to go broody. It's also a pretty safe bet that a White Leghorn won't go broody. Some indications that a hen may be getting ready to go broody are spending more time on the nest than usual or plucking feathers from the chest. Once a hen is fully broody, she will sit in the nest all day and all night, only getting up for a few minutes each day to eat, drink, and poo. She will also stop laying.
    All chicken eggs take about 21 days to incubate, regardless of the size of the egg. The average sized hen can adequately cover about 8 to 10 eggs. Too many eggs, and a hen can't keep them all at the proper temp, leading to a poor hatch rate or delayed hatching.
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I agree with June.
    I've had Orps that went broody and some that never did. I had a Cochin that never went broody. I had a black leghorn that went broody a couple times a year. Growing up we had about 100 white leghorns and there were always 2 or 3 in broody jail.
    Trying to put too many eggs under a hen can result in zero hatching since she can't cover them all and as she shuffles them around, one or more end up getting chilled. A week or so of that and the whole hatch will fail.
    Embryos don't need help hatching under a broody. If they don't hatch on their own, they weren't meant to. One doesn't want to perpetuate needy genetics.
    Chickens have been hatching for a million years without needing help.
    If you hatch eggs, you can count on half being cockerels that grow into roosters.

    A good rooster protects hens from predators, finds food for them and stands guard while they eat, keeps peace in a flock and is appreciated by the hens.
    A study showed that pullets reach point of lay earlier if a rooster is present. They don't have to be in the same space. They only have to be able to see him.
  6. mizjones

    mizjones In the Brooder

    Jul 28, 2016
    South Carolina
    So glad to find this. We've had chickens in the past but never tried the hatching thing and the prices for reputable incubators are astronomical IMO.

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