1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Incubator vs. Hen

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by anniemary, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. anniemary

    anniemary Songster

    Mar 23, 2009
    (I'm a newbie! Don't even have my chickens yet.)

    Do I have to have an incubator? Or can I let the hens hatch the eggs and raise the chicks? (and a really stupid question....how do I know when to gather the eggs and when to leave them for the hen to hatch? is that a decision I make or the hen?)

    What is the advantage of using the bator? If I use a bator, do I have to separate the chicks from the flock until they are large enough not to get picked on?

    Thank you!!!

  2. bradybrady09

    bradybrady09 BANNED

    Mar 19, 2009
    Well really your taking your chances with the hens hatching there own babies because not all will go "Broody" an incubator is a good way to start if you want a good chance of getting chicks as far as leaving the eggs if you want one of your hens to start setting just leave them when she thinks she has enough in her clutch and provided she wants to go broody she will but if you leave to many and she doesnt your just wasting eggs.
  3. CTChickenMom

    CTChickenMom Songster

    Jan 5, 2009
    SE Connecticut
    Not every breed will go broody...Cochins and Brahmas will. Check the stats on the breeds your getting. If they go broody (bantams often do) then you can leave them with the hen. If you have many you want to hatch or the breeds your getting don't get broody then you'll need your bator.
  4. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

    Jan 30, 2007
    With an incubator you can set your eggs whenever you feel like hatching. Not all breeds of hens will go broody or want to set, so you need to pick a breed that you might get broodiness from. Silkies, Orpingtons, Brahmas, Cochins to name a few. It's a hens hormones that make her want to set sometimes on their own, sometimes you can help her along by setting fake eggs in a nest for her. Incubator you can set anytime, broody hen is a guessing game and might not want to set when you want chicks.
  5. Maryallison

    Maryallison Songster

    Jul 18, 2008
    Fountain, Florida
    Having the hens do the incubating is nice. You get the cute chicks without all the fuss of turning the eggs. But like the others said you can't just like make your hen sit (broody) It just kinda ends up happening. Like my Silkies.....Last week I realized Sunny the Silky had been sitting in the corner for 3 days on her eggs. She is broody. I also have a yellow Buff that decided she wanted to be a mama too and she is sitting on 4 eggs. And far as gathering the eggs.....the hen will just start sitting on the eggs. You can gather more for her after you notice she is sitting, but no need to gather ahead of time. Hope I helped....I am newer to this all, but I had a hen hatch our chicks in the fall and I was amazed!!! [​IMG]
  6. walkswithdog

    walkswithdog Crowing

    Jul 17, 2008
    DC Region
    Having a broody whenever you need one would be nice. Like they said, it doesn't happen when YOU want or need it. Incubators are for getting the job done on your time table.

    Having both is the best deal. But you can do it with incubators alone. Some breeds never ever go broody. If you want more you hatch them. It all depends on what you want.
  7. anniemary

    anniemary Songster

    Mar 23, 2009
    I'm doing Orpingtons so I think I might have luck with some going broody.

    As far as collecting the eggs, I suddenly remember what chicken life was like at my sister's. She'd go out in the morning and collect eggs from nests after the hens left to free range. I imagine I'll know when a hen is broody if I find her still sitting on her eggs rather than going outside. Yes?

    I think I'll see how things go this spring/summer and maybe try for an incubator next spring.

    Thank you so much for your replies! Everyone is so nice, patient and informative here!!


  8. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    I maintain a Silkie flock just for hatching - that was the whole reason I bought them. I have 10 hens and 1 rooster and someone has been continuously broody year-round. Sometimes I'll have only one broody and sometimes I'll have a lot (my record is 8 at once), but I always have someone.

    PROS: I LOVE broody hens because they do all the work - I don't need to worry about temps spikes and dips, humidity, turning, power outages or brooding the babies afterward. I brooded hatchery chicks in the house last year and it was so messy I promised my DH never again. With broodies, they keep their babies plenty warm even in the dead of winter in an unheated barn. Babies raised by broodies are hardier, are integrated into the flock by the mama hen, feather out quicker and are more likely to go broody themselves as adults. There's something sooooo natural about it - how content mama and babies are, how they communicate with each other - like all their emotional needs are met.

    CONS: Broodies (esp bantums) have limited space under their bums, so I can't hatch dozens of eggs at a time. Sometimes the hens quit too early, forget which nest is theirs or knock good eggs out of the nest. Once I had a chick get stepped on (I think by another coop-mate, not the mama) and died. Sometimes they choose to brood in places you'd rather not - (like right inside the main door on the floor [​IMG] )

    For me the pros outweigh the cons and it's a personal choice. I don't even own an incubator. If you want broodies, buy a broody breed, like Silkies, Cochins, OEG, etc.

    Regarding eggs - I gather every fresh egg laid and only give eggs to a hen once they show signs they're broody. Having eggs in the nest doesn't really entice them to brood - when they want to brood - they'll sit on air.

    Hope that helps!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by