Need breeding advice for starting a chicken family

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by sonataq14, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. sonataq14

    sonataq14 Hatching

    Nov 29, 2015
    Starting information: I have 50 chickens which consist of 4 breeds (white leghorn, black star, red star, and Rhode Island Reds). Equal amounts of each breed. I also have 3 roosters...2 of them are Rhode Island Reds, and 1 is a White Leghorn.

    I would like to breed my white leghorns to get white leghorn baby chicks. My question do I do this? I presume I need to put one of my white leghorn hens in a separate pen with my white leghorn rooster. I need to put several white leghorn hens in a separate pen with my white leghorn rooster?

    Once the rooster fertilizes a hen, how long does it take before she will become broody and stop laying eggs? How many days does this take, and how many eggs will she lay before she becomes broody and stops laying? This is why I'm asking...because if she becomes broody and sits on her egg(s) a day or two after she is fertile, and I want to have maybe 5-6 eggs/baby chicks, then do I need to have eggs from other fertile hens to make her clutch large enough (again...5-6 eggs) to meet the quantity of eggs that I want to hatch? I understand that once the hen is broody, she stops laying, so this is why I have all these crazy questions that are concerning me.

    Should I let her hatch them naturally, or should I purchase an incubator? Please explain any answer you give for your answer so I become better informed.

    Any additional information you can offer would be GREATLY appreciated!

    Thank you very much for helping me.
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchi Wan Kenobi

    Mar 27, 2012
    My Coop
    To get purebred chicks from your leghorns, you need to separate your leghorn hens from your other breed roosters for three weeks, since they can remain fertile from those roosters for up to three weeks. Then you can put the leghorn rooster in with them and you should have fertile eggs within a day or two.

    As to your brooding question, having been mated by a rooster and laying fertile eggs does not make a hen go broody. It is completely independent of that. Hens that have never seen a rooster in their entire lives will go broody, and those that grew up with them and have been mated constantly sometimes never will.

    Leghorns are not a broody breed. The chances are high that none of your leghorns will ever go broody. The same is true for the rest of your breeds (and red stars and black stars aren't really breeds, they are crosses). You will need to either get a hen from a broody breed to use as a surrogate to hatch the eggs, or you will need to get an incubator.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  3. Grub Digger

    Grub Digger Chirping

    Jan 5, 2016
    Middle TN
    I agree with Pyxis and I suggest Faverolles for your broody surrogate. Mine went broody twice this year and was a doting and instructive momma. Very protective. Lots of ppl post about silkies, I have no experience with them.

  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    Broodiness has been bred out of most production birds. Yes, we have seen broody hens from each of your breeds on this board over the years, but I wouldn't count on it. If you want chicks on a specific time line from those hens, you'll need an incubator.

    Pyxis gave good advice about pulling the hens from the other roosters (if they're currently exposed). If they're in with other roosters, you'll need to wait a good 2+ weeks, 3 is best, to be sure the chicks are pure bred. If the hens aren't in with other roosters, put the Leghorn in with them and you can start collecting eggs say 3-4 days later, as long as he's mating them those first few days.

    For that small a number of chicks, I'd just go with a basic Styrofoam incubator like a Little Giant or Hovabotor, something along those lines. Keep in mind there's a good learning curve to hatching eggs in an incubator, so it may take a few times to get chicks. And, remember about half will be males.

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