Natural Incubation


5 Years
Feb 9, 2014
My partridge rock bantam hen decided that she is going to hatch two eggs. Right now i have her laying in her normal coop still on regular food and with my male, the only other one in the coop. Should i move him out of the same area as her? Will he hurt the chicks? How do i make sure the chicks are safe? Do i need to feed them along with the mother medicated chick feed? This is my first time naturally incubating chicks, so any information would be helpful.
There are a lot of myths on this forum about roosters and about how horrible they are around chicks. You are dealing with living animals so no one can give you any guarantees, but I’ve never had a rooster harm a chick. Some roosters, not all but some, help Mama take care of the chicks. I’d worry about the other hens in there more than the rooster and I don’t worry about the other hens either. Mama will normally protect her babies. My hens raise their chicks with the flock and I’ve never lost one to another adult flock member.

The only rule on feeding them is that the chicks should not eat Layer because of the extra calcium. Everything else comes down to your personal choice. According to the medical experts feeding medicated feed to laying hens will not be a problem as long as that medicine is the dosage of Amprolium normally found in medicated feed but my personal choice is to not do that. Check the label to assure it is only Amprolium.

Amprolium is not an antibiotic. It will not destroy the probiotics they have like an antibiotic would. Amprolium reduces the reproduction of certain bugs in their system that can cause Coccidiosis but allows enough to reproduce that they can build up the immunity they need. If you feed medicated feed, it needs to be fed for about three weeks after they first come into contact with the ground. That’s where the bug that causes Coccidiosis lives and three weeks if about how long it takes for them to develop the immunity they need.

As long as the number of those bugs living in their guts does not get out of hand, they won’t get sick but instead will build immunity. That bug thrives in wet soil with chicken manure in it or in filthy water dishes. It’s important to change the water daily, not just refill the water dish. If the soil they are on is wet they are in more danger from Coccidiosis so you need to know the signs even if you feed medicated feed. Medicated fed does not prevent Coccidiosis, it reduces the chances they will get sick from it.

Personally I choose to not feed medicated feed. As long as I change the water daily I don’t have a problem, even in wet weather. But some strains of Coccidiosis are stronger than others. Some people do have problems. As I said, it is a personal choice, not a right way or wrong way.

If you allow the hen to hatch and raise her chicks with the flock (again a personal choice. We do all that in a lot of different ways) I suggest you mark the eggs so you can tell which ones belong. It’s possible the other hens will lay with the broody. You need to check under her every day after the other hens have finished laying and remove any new eggs. Those eggs are still good to use as long as you remove them every day. If you don’t remove them the later eggs won’t develop enough to hatch. You’ll probably feel stressed with those eggs dying unhatched. If the number of eggs builds up so the hen cannot cover them all, the ones that should develop may be pushed out from under her enough that they can cool off enough to die. Check under her daily and remove any extra eggs.
Good luck with your broody hatch. It’s an exciting but sometimes stressful adventure the first time. But once you experience it, that will almost certainly become your preferred way to hatch and raise chicks.

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