Need how-to advice

apprentice

In the Brooder
6 Years
Jul 8, 2013
30
0
22
I'm interested in hatching chicks from eggs my girls lay. Is this something I can do? I'm new to all this (hence the name) but want to be able to raise new from the old. I have time and space, what do I need to do to have more full grown birds?
 

Yorkshire Coop

Moderator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Aug 16, 2014
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My Coop
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https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/hatching-eggs-101

The above link is a great read for all you need to know about incubating eggs. My top tips for hatching eggs would be -
Good healthy hens and cockerel
Choose the best looking clean strong shelled eggs
The best incubator you can get
A good thermometer and hygrometer
Most of all enjoy it, incubating and hatching is such a rewarding experience.

Research Research is also a top tip.
Hope you give it a go and good luck :frow
 

apprentice

In the Brooder
6 Years
Jul 8, 2013
30
0
22
Wow. Just skimming over it that seems like a lot to consider. Is it widely accepted that letting a hen sit on them doesn't work anymore? One of my earliest memories of my grandpa was us at his little hobby farm he bought when he retired. I got to "help" him take care of a few animals which was me basically doing whatever he told me to and us spending a morning together. I remember a box full of chicks and dad said he hatched his own and I don't think he had very much equipment
 

Yorkshire Coop

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If you have a hen that goes broody then that's great because she does all the work for you. The only problem is you have to wait for her to decide when she wants to hatch chicks you can't make a hen go broody. With the incubator method you get to decide when you want the chicks. I know the link I gave you has a lot of info but it's just so helpfull.

The main things with incubator method is to try to create the optimum conditions for the eggs to hatch. This is my method - I have forced air (fan) incubator so temp is 37.5 Celsius. Humidity day1-18 is 45%. On day 18 you stop turning eggs and put the humidity up to 65%. I don't open the incubator then to keep the humidity up. I have auto turner but if you were hand turning the eggs they would need to be turned 3 times per day but 5 is better.

I know it sounds daunting but really once you get into the swing of things it's great and becomes very addictive.
 

Aphrael

Songster
7 Years
Jan 21, 2013
1,359
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148
Texas
Wow. Just skimming over it that seems like a lot to consider. Is it widely accepted that letting a hen sit on them doesn't work anymore? One of my earliest memories of my grandpa was us at his little hobby farm he bought when he retired. I got to "help" him take care of a few animals which was me basically doing whatever he told me to and us spending a morning together. I remember a box full of chicks and dad said he hatched his own and I don't think he had very much equipment
Oh no, that is not the case at all! If you have a broody hen you really need no extra chick equipment at all. The mama hen does everything for you. There are a lot of different reasons people use incubators instead of, or in addition to, a broody though. As @Yorkshire coop mentioned above, the hen decides when, or even IF she is going to be broody (many super egg laying breeds are not likely to ever go broody), and her timeline may not line up with your planned timeline for hatching. Another reason for an incubator is that you could hatch many more eggs at once than what a single hen could brood at one time. Also, it is so educational and rewarding being involved throughout the whole process. Be warned though, it can be super addicting whether you hatch under a broody or in an incubator!
lau.gif
 

apprentice

In the Brooder
6 Years
Jul 8, 2013
30
0
22
I guess I didn't think of it that way. One broody hen sitting on a dozen mixed breed eggs when she wants doesn't sound like a very promising way of keeping a yard full of chickens. Thanks for the input, guess I'll look into an incubator setup
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,752
556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
You also need to give consideration to what you are going to do with all the cockerels that hatch. You can generally consider yourself lucky to get anything less than 50%. Unless it is an auto sexing breed or sex linked, you will not know the sex until they are several weeks old. If it is auto sexing/sex linked, are you prepared to cull the male chicks at a day old or will you rear them for meat?
I'm fast approaching the deadly day and although I said from the start that I would raise them for meat, it is a very daunting prospect, the nearer it becomes. They are starting to fight and bother the girls, so I can't delay the moment of truth much longer.

Personally I have had great success with broody hens this season. 2 of them have raised 31 chicks and only 2 have died, one was accidentally crushed when a board fell on it and the other was an illness. Hatch rate was also over 90%, so in my eyes the broodies were economical and successful.... but you do need a breed of hen that is prone to broodiness.

Anyway, that's my 2 penneth worth.

Regards

Barbara
 

Aphrael

Songster
7 Years
Jan 21, 2013
1,359
86
148
Texas
You also need to give consideration to what you are going to do with all the cockerels that hatch. You can generally consider yourself lucky to get anything less than 50%. Unless it is an auto sexing breed or sex linked, you will not know the sex until they are several weeks old. If it is auto sexing/sex linked, are you prepared to cull the male chicks at a day old or will you rear them for meat?
I'm fast approaching the deadly day and although I said from the start that I would raise them for meat, it is a very daunting prospect, the nearer it becomes. They are starting to fight and bother the girls, so I can't delay the moment of truth much longer.

Personally I have had great success with broody hens this season. 2 of them have raised 31 chicks and only 2 have died, one was accidentally crushed when a board fell on it and the other was an illness. Hatch rate was also over 90%, so in my eyes the broodies were economical and successful.... but you do need a breed of hen that is prone to broodiness.

Anyway, that's my 2 penneth worth.

Regards

Barbara
It is daunting, and really, really hard the first time. It does get somewhat easier with practice though. I'll never enjoy it, or even be blase about it, but I don't cry anymore when it comes time to process. And if you can process the extra roos for meat, it makes the whole thing even more economical.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,117
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Southeast Louisiana
Apprentice, I assume you have a rooster with them? That’s kind of necessary for fertile eggs.

That’s a real good point about what are you going to do with the excess chickens. It doesn’t take a lot to get a real yard full of chickens and they can get expensive to feed. While most of my hatches are normally about 2/3 one sex and 1/3 the other, over time it balances out to 50-50 male-female. While multiple roosters can co-exist if you really have a lot of room (they normally split the hens between themselves and stay out of each other’s way) you really want a lot more hens than roosters.
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,752
556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
Thanks for those words of reassurance Aphrael. It is really helpful to know that it will get easier. At the moment I'm planning to decapitate on a tree stump with a bill hook (sharp long flat bladed tool for cutting brush) I've practised on a hen that died so I have an idea of how hard I need to swing to do it cleanly. Do you mind me asking how you do it? I plan to have tissues at the ready to cope with the tears. Hopefully all the thought and planning I have put into it will make it go as smoothly as possible.
Apologies to OP for hijacking your thread, but hopefully the information will be helpful to you too.

Regards

Barbara
 

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