Introducing Fertile Eggs?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by CollegeFarmer, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. CollegeFarmer

    CollegeFarmer New Egg

    Feb 1, 2013
    My 2 year old Buff Orpington becomes very broody in the Spring and I thought I might have her hatch a few fertile eggs. Are there serious dangers to hatching chicks with 7 other adult hens around? [​IMG] Should I keep mamma and chicks separated from the other hens? The idea randomly popped into my head and I thought you guys would know best! Thanks! [​IMG]
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    There is no right or wrong answer to this. People do this type of stuff a lot of different ways.

    Chickens have been hatching and raising chicks with the flock of thousands of years. You are dealing with risks no matter which way you go. Just because something can possibly happen does not mean it will in each and every case. Some of the things I’ll mention are not really that likely but they are possible. And if they happen to you it doesn’t matter how likely they are. They happened.

    If you isolate her, you run the risk of breaking her from being broody when you move her. There is a level of inconvenience since you have additional feeding and watering to do, plus you’ll probably have more poop removal. You may need to build a special predator proof place for her.

    You may have some integration issues to deal with. If you try to let her raise chicks separated from the flock after they hatch, you have to be sure the chicks cannot get through the fence where the other hens can get to them but Mama cannot protect them.

    If she incubates with the flock, you need to mark the eggs and check under her daily to remove any that don’t belong. As long as you get them daily, they are fine to use.

    It’s possible another hen may hop on her nest to lay while she is out for her daily constitutional and she hops on the wrong nest when she gets back. That happened to me and the eggs felt really cold when I saw what was going on. I put her back on the right nest and she hatched 11 out of 11. I’ll admit I was concerned when I felt how cold those eggs were but who can complain about 11 out of 11?

    Some broodies welcome other hens to lay in the nest with them and some broodies will defend her nest from other hens laying in there. If you get a nest hog, eggs could possibly be broken during the scuffle.

    It’s possible another hen may try to kill the chicks, either in the nest as they hatch or when the broody is raising them. Most broodies are so defensive of their chicks this just does not happen, but not all broodies are as good as they should be.

    Usually a broody doesn’t have any real problems raising her chicks with the flock as long as she has some room to work with. If you have them shoe-horned into a tight space the risk goes up but you’re going to have trouble integrating them if space is tight if you raise them separately.

    I have no idea of your set-up or conditions. My broodies hatch and raise chicks with the flock but that does not mean that’s the right decision for you. Both methods can work and I really think the more space they have the easier it is to just let them be chickens. You are dealing with living animals so no one can give you any guarantees either way. You may have a lousy broody or a super-aggressive hen.

    Good luck however you decide.

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