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Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by FayeC, Dec 16, 2014.

  1. FayeC

    FayeC New Egg

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    Dec 16, 2014
    Hello everyone - I am new here but not new to chickens. We have only had hens up until a few weeks ago. We purchased 3 Silkies - 2 hens and 1 rooster. We would like to raise some chicks in the Spring but I have a really odd question. I always see pictures of hens with lots of baby chicks. If a chicken only lays one egg per day, how do they acquire so many eggs? No laughing, please [​IMG]. Our new chicks are 6 months old and we are so glad to have them. Although, I have to admit that Silkies aren't the smartest of chickens, they are so sweet!
    Thanks!
    Faye
     
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    Trust me, you're not the first person to be puzzled by this!

    A hen lays an egg a day, give or take. The eggs, even the fertile ones, don't start developing until she starts setting on them. The eggs can easily set up to 2 weeks in a kind of stasis. Once her hormones trigger her to set or go broody, they all start developing at the same time. This way the eggs all hatch at roughly the same time, usually over a 48 hour period.

    Your silkies have a good chance of going broody. When I see a bird acting broody--staying on the nest, being aggressive when approached, etc, I start holding back the eggs I'll want her to incubate. I don't give her the eggs I want her to hatch until she's been on the nest at least 2 nights in a row, that's when I know she's serious about setting. I then mark the eggs I give her with a sharpie and mark the calender for 3 weeks and let her do all the work [​IMG]
     
  3. FayeC

    FayeC New Egg

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    Thank you so much! When you hold back eggs you want her to hatch, where do you store them until you are ready to give them back? Our Silkies came from a breeder that did not house them in a coop, but a large barn with sectioned pens. Therefore, they do not yet know how to go in their coop at night. Once they learn this, how will I know that she is has been on the nest at night? My other chickens are usually at the coop door when they hear me coming so I'm not sure where anyone has been sleeping. Thank you for your patience in teaching me.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I usually notice she's on the nest during the day. A broody hen will grumble and growl at you, and flatten herself out on the nest like a hen pancake with her little head sticking up in the middle. Sometimes they do this during the day, but not at night, kind of a practice brooding. I just go out after it's dark and see if anyone's still on the nest. They normally roost, so sleeping on the nest is a sign of broodiness. Fluffing up when approached and pecking at you is also a good sign--one of my tiny bantam cochins taught me to wear long sleeves and gloves [​IMG].

    I don't do anything really special with the eggs I'm going to set. I get enough eggs each day I usually have what I want in 2-3 days. I just put them in a bowl or a carton on the counter. Lots of folks swear you need to set them large end up, personally I've never paid that much attention. I don't set eggs with tons of poop, although I have scraped some poop off when it was an egg from a hen I really wanted to hatch. Don't wash the eggs before setting. If there are any other hens in the coop, I always, always mark the eggs I've set with a sharpie. A broody hen will easily steal an egg from another nest, or another hen can lay an egg there. The problem with this is, the first eggs you gave her are already developed, and the new egg is going to be behind and not ready to hatch with the others. This is called a staggered hatch and not a good thing with a broody hen, she'll abandon the nest and that added egg will have a partially developed chick. Marking the eggs lets me easily see if there are any eggs that don't belong.
     
  5. FayeC

    FayeC New Egg

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    Thank you so much for your help. I'm sure I will have more questions in the Spring if we decide to hatch some chicks. Right now we are just enjoying our new girls (and boy)
     

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