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Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by chrism, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. chrism

    chrism Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there incubating & hatching folks.
    I didn't plan on having to be here in this forum but I've begun hearing crows from two unexpected roosters the past few days. Now my carefully put together plan for a hen only flock is out the window.
    I know that I could just get rid of the cocks but seeing all of the free offerings for them on local forums and Craigslist makes me suspect that might be easier said than done.
    They are still young and hardly worth the trouble of harvesting for my stew pot.
    I did a WHOLE lot of research, planning and prep for my hen only flock before the first hen was acquired and not a whit of thought went into incubating and hatching eggs.
    So I feel that I'm under the gun a little bit.
    I don't even know what questions to ask.
    So... my hope is to let Mother Nature do what she does best without much input from me.
    I really don't want to get into purchasing incubators and brooders and other equipment. All that I want to do is sustain my flock, not get into the incubation business.

    Will you please point me in the right direction to where I can begin to learn how to facilitate my flock in raising their own offspring?

    I looked and didn't find the sticky threads in this forum.
    I'm really hoping to find some good instruction pieces that have been put together by knowledgeable forum members rather than the random threads I'm finding in search.
    Usually the questions only vaguely pertain to my situation and they almost always end up being point/counterpoint arguments rather than good instruction.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015
  2. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First, you have to understand that not all breeds of chickens will brood. With egg production breeds maternal instinct has been bred out of them; going broody means less eggs laid. What breed do you have? Many of us do not use incubators. If the breed that you have is not a broody type you could get a few silkies as brooders for those eggs you'd like to hatch. There are a number of different breeds that are known for their broodiness and being good mothers; silkies just happen to be my preference.
     
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    First off, questions: Do you have the space to give a broody hen a small but safe and private place, within the sight of the rest of the flock to set on her eggs, and hatch them, tend the chicks for a few days before she brings them out to mingle with the rest of the flock? What will you do with the resulting roosters? Because, eventually, you'll be faced with old non-laying hens, and roosters who will want to do nothing but crow all day, fight all day, and breed your hens all day, till they are bare backed. How big is your coop, and what is the current size of your flock? How big is your run? A flock with a rooster will need more room IMO than a flock without a rooster. You may NEVER have a hen go broody. It's all a matter of luck, mixed with the fact that some breeds are more likely to go broody than others. Then again, some hens never read the broody manual, and will go broody even though their breeding indicates that it should most likely never happen. Then, there's the hen who is in love with the idea of being broody, and will happily sit on eggs, rocks, her own feet for days on end, but will abandon the nest when the eggs start to hatch. Will you plan to have an incubator and brooder handy if that happens? (Incubators can be made very easily and very cheaply. Sunbeam XPress makes a heating pad that comes very close to mimicking the heat provided by a broody.)

    Now, that I've thrown some tough questions at you: time for the fun. There is nothing in this world that compares with the experience of watching a hen set on her eggs and faithfully tend them, then hearing the first little peeps under her. Watching her nurture her babies, defend her babies, teach them how to be chickens. There is nothing in this world that compares to holding a warm egg in your hand, shining a flashlight through it, and seeing a baby chick dancing inside that egg. Nothing compares to looking in that egg and seeing little toes, little beak, even seeing the heart beat in the first week. There is nothing in this world that compares with watching a good rooster taking care of his girls: finding them tidbits to eat, giving them the choice morsels. Running back and forth to the coop every time one of his girls lays an egg, because he needs to escort her from nest box to range. Then, he'll jump in a nest box, scritch around, fluff up the bedding, and invite his girls to "Please, come... see! This is THE BEST place to put your eggs today!!!

    There are plenty of good articles in the Learning Center (look at top bar on this page) that will give you concrete information on many topics related to keeping poultry, including broody hens.
     
  4. chrism

    chrism Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Unfortunately, for my planned operation... I carefully chose breeds least likely to go broody.
    I did have one Golden Comet that did attempt to brood eggs a month or so ago and I was successful in breaking her of that.
    I guess keeping a proven brooder will be necessary.
     
  5. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Having a few good broody hens is a lot simpler than trying to raise chicks artificially. By raising a few chicks, now and again, you will always have a few younger hens that produce more eggs than their aged relatives. Biggest problem being what to do with the roosters especially if you have a wife like mine who says, "We can't eat George and Calico…" At the moment I'm trying to sneak some roosters out under the radar.
     
  6. chrism

    chrism Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I believe that I have the space.

    Quote:
    Good question! I know that counting on giving the roos away is unlikely. I also know that I won’t be able to sex them when young. I will most likely grow them out and then harvest them. The older hens will also be harvested when production begins to fall off. Hopefully, if my new plan of a self-sustaining flock works, I will always have young up-and-comers to replace the spent hens.

    Quote:
    My coop is a 12x20 hoop house.
    I have 36 hens and 2 roos.
    My “run” is 1 acre that is enclosed with electric poultry netting.

    Quote:
    I’m learning that I should add a breed known for reliable brooding instincts.

    Quote:
    Probably not. If Nature doesn’t work, my back-up plan will be to purchase hatchlings. That was my original plan anyway. The upside will be that I will be less likely to end up with roosters

    Quote:
    Duhhh … no wonder I didn’t see it, it was at eye level!
     
  7. chrism

    chrism Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote: Luckily my rule of no naming the food is still holding up.

    Is there a better idea than a stew pot?
     
  8. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No. So far I have been able to find people who wanted my extras. A student of mine is taking my serama culls; 2 hens and a rooster-I hope. If I lived in a different area my serama might be easier to give away as pets. They actually come to be held-which I find a bit weird. One hen flies to my shoulder every chance she gets. At first I thought they were looking for a handout. Nope-they just like to be held and have their necks scratched. This is the only breed that I have owned that was so people oriented.
     

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