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Need Advice About Getting a Broody Hen to Lay, Incubate Eggs and Then Protect the Chicks Until They

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Catfsm, Mar 8, 2017.

  1. Catfsm

    Catfsm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I need some more hens. Egg sale demands are huge: I can't keep up with them! So, a friend suggested I take her 1 1/2 year old great laying Buff Orphington Hen which she says is almost always broody. The idea is that I will put her with our big beautiful alpha Rhody Red rooster, and she will lay a clutch of fertile eggs. Then, we hope she will sit on the eggs, let them hatch and then keep the chicks warm until they can stand the spring weather here in Oregon where it can get into the low 50s or lower.

    What is your experience: Will the hen do the job? Will she sit and sit and sit and sit? Will she hatch the eggs? Will she lay a clutch of eggs? Will she continue to lay while sitting on the eggs? Then, once the eggs are hatched, will she keep them warm for around 4 weeks or so? Will she have enough sexual contact with the big virile rooster to have a set of chicks? Is there anything I can do to help all this along? We plan to put her and her consort (the roo) into a special coop just for them until their "honeymoon" is over? Is that a good plan?

    I love love love my hennies and that is why I am doing this. A real farmer would cull the flock when they are about 2 years old and eat the hens. However, I am a softy. The 40 plus hens are all my pets! Some are about 5 years old! That is too old, but, well, sorry....... I decided the solution is just to get new hens to support the older ones with our egg sales and to let them all just live out their lives and die of natural causes and/or old age. I may change this due to financial concerns (feed is NOT inexpensive!0 about feeding the non producers, but for now it is how I do it. The idea of having a broody hen do the work of sitting on the eggs and chicks is atractive and less difficult if it works than using an incubator and then heat lamp, etc. I did trade someone for an incubator, but I have not tried it yet. I am not certain how to do it.....
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    There's no reason why a broody hen will not successfully hatch and look after her chicks. It may take a little time before she accepts the advances of the cock bird, but this link should help you check for fertility - https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/16008/how-to-tell-a-fertile-vs-infertile-egg-pictures

    Once a hen goes fully broody she will stop laying eggs.

    If your end game is to add to your existing flock with good layers, then personally, I'd choose a light, good laying breed and get fertile eggs from them as opposed to having layers that are prone to broodiness. Your broody hen will sit on any fertile eggs, not only those that she has laid.

    No reason not to try your incubator, if you have fertile eggs. Just search for the model in the search box or ask on the "Incubating and hatching eggs" forum how to use your incubator.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  3. AmyLynn2374

    AmyLynn2374 Humidity Queen

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    Most broodies know what they are doing and do a good job. Occasionally you'll get a broody that lacks the true maternal instincts. But hens have been hatching since the beginning of time. Many people will oppose the use of adding an "unknown" bird to your flock without the proper quarantine for bio security purposes.

    If you decide you want to try your hand at incubating, there are plenty of us willing to give you advice and opinions. They won't always be the same, but you'll get lots of ideas...lol You're welcome to jump on the hands on hatching and help thread, and you'll get good guidance there. Most of the thread's users hatch in similar styles so there's not as much conflicting info.
     
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    It takes just one breeding for a hen to be able to produce fertile eggs for up to 3 weeks. Once broody, a hen will stop laying. Collect the eggs daily and store fat end up. A hen that is prone to brooding will go broody with or without a bunch of eggs sitting around. Once she is fully broody and has been sitting day and night for at least 3 days, take about a dozen eggs, mark them, and put them under the hen. She should get up once or twice a day to eat, drink, and poo. Check daily for any new eggs that have been added by other hens and remove those. If she doesn't voluntarily get up everyday, you may need to force her off. If you don't make sure she's getting up to eat, she might cannibalize developing eggs. After 3 weeks, the eggs will hatch. She should be just fine taking care of the chicks.
     
  5. Catfsm

    Catfsm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thankyou, that is very helpful!

    I am going to try with that hen and see what occurs!

    I appreciate the help.

    Apparently the chicks from a Buff and a Rhody Roo are beautiful, hardy and excellent layers! I will let everyone know my results! [​IMG]
     
  6. Catfsm

    Catfsm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I forgot to say that I decided not to quarantine the hen because the woman is a true chicken lover and her hens are healthy and happy. This buff is one she has had for 1 1/2 years.... Her chickens are what she loves! We just spent 1/2 hour on the phone "talking chicken" . She is offering the hen because she wants to be helpful to me since I put an ad on Craigslist locally for inexpensive young hens..... Usually, I do quarantine new arrivals! .This time I trust the source. Obviously, you are more expert than I am. What do you think?
     
  7. IdyllwildAcres

    IdyllwildAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would not do it. She may be a carrier of something and have no symptoms and then your whole flock is at risk. Why not incubate some eggs if you have 40 hens and a roo already? Keep a closed flock is my plan.

    Good luck

    Gary
     
  8. Catfsm

    Catfsm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Flock Master,

    Thank you for all the help! I plan to contact the woman with the Buff and to tell her to bring her when she is next down our way. She lives about 50 miles north of us, but has family in our area.


    It is good to know that the roo does not need to stay with her while she sits on the eggs. We plan, therefore, to put her into a rabbit hutch where she won't be bothered by other hens. We will put our Rhody Roo in with her but not let our silky and our Easter Egger get to her! We will ensure that the bottom of the hutch is not going to have wind blowing on it or allow the eggs to get cold! She will lay in there so the eggs are not mixed up with those of other hens. ..Does that make sense? I will do what you say: Collect up a dozen or so of her eggs and put them under her when she gets broody. Then, of course, while she sits, we will ensure she eats, drinks and poos daily!
     
  9. Catfsm

    Catfsm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 28, 2011
    West Lnn, Oregon
    Dear Overrun,

    I certainly appreciate your help!


    That does make sense.

    I will consider what you say.

    My problem is that I am very busy with a business, with caring for my elderly mother, with studying for a potential new career, with some political actions, and with other projects. I wish I could spend more time with the farm and not have to do all this other stuff, and I will get there in a couple years. However, considering my circumstances, it certainly seems easier to have the hen do the work than for me to go through the learning needed to use my incubator.

    An idea is this: We have lots of hens of all different breeds. They are beauties, mostly given to us and kept quarentined each time and then added. 20 were purchased as chicks and someone kept them for me under a heat lamp, but that work by that little girl is not available now. So, here is how I will do it: I could put that new Buff hen into a separate coop (It would be a rabbit hutch fixed so that it is certain to not be cold and a nest box would be added for the hen to sit on). I could just put the big boy in with her and we would watch to ensure they had sexual contact sufficient that we arecertain she has been set up to have fertile eggs with him as the father. I would do that anyway because I do not think our Silkies, our Easter Egger or the other roo (whose breed I have not yet verified) would be the right mix with the buff. Then, only the one big Rhody would have any potential of illness, making the risk much less. There is still the danger, of course.

    Once I know I can get live chicks from a broody hen, I would just do that in the future and not get more hens from outside.
     
  10. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    There is another option. You don't need to breed the Orpington at all. When she goes broody, you can give her any fertile eggs you would like. If you want some more silkies, give her silkie eggs to sit on. If you want more good layers, give her some of the fertile eggs from your best layers. If you want a few more potential broodies, breed her and set her own eggs. Broodies don't care where the eggs came from, or even if there are any eggs to brood at all. I do think that a rabbit hutch is probably going to be too small for her and a rooster. And if it has a wire floor, it's not safe for the chicks.
     

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