Preparing to Hatch Out 20 - 24 Buff Orpington Chicks

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by GardeningGrl, Feb 11, 2012.

  1. GardeningGrl

    GardeningGrl Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 11, 2012
    Having just joined Backyard Chickens, after months of watching/reading others' posts, I have my first real chicken quandry.

    In April, I'm planning to separate my large flock (2 roosters, 8 hens) into two smaller breeding flocks (1 rooster & 4 hens). I want to lead with the fact that this is largely a test-year. We plan to use the majority of the grown chickens for meat (we raise Buffs because they are a dual purpose bird, and last year slaughtered 18 of them). We will keep two young hens to add to the layers, but we are more concerned with this years' chicks as a breeding experiment more than flock improvement (which we'll work on next year when we are more skilled/experienced and plan to start culling hens who are not laying as actively).

    So the plan follows:

    1. Separate the two flocks into outdoor pens in early April (as long as the snow is melted and the outdoor temperatures cooperate). I should note that our outdoor pens have safe, closed off access for egg-laying and predator protection). You can see one in my profile pic - the other is waiting to be built. Wait at least 12 days, so we can trace the chicks' lineage through the rooster.

    2. Hope at least two hens go broody (if not: incubator).

    3. Move those hens' nests back into the indoor coop brooding areas (which still need to be built).

    4. Hatch the chicks in the winter/indoor coop and after a period of time, combine the chick flocks and remove the mother hens back to the regular laying flock in the larger tractor where that flock will spend the summer.

    I'm basically looking for advice. From the reading I've done, it sounds like a mature Buff hen can sit between 12 - 14 eggs in a deep, well-protected nest. Has anyone had experience with this?

    What should the nesting area look like? I'm thinking of dividing the two hens to provide optimal experiences and prevent nest swapping.

    What should I be thinking about?

    How would you suggest banding the little ones when the time comes? I've read that waiting a week is optimal, but what have you done in the past?

    Thank you so much for any help/advice you can provide!
  2. AlienChick

    AlienChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY
    If tracking lineage is REALLY important to you, I would wait the full 21 days (not just 12).

    Broody hens will sit on as many eggs as they can get their hands on.
    I've had Silkies sit on 11 eggs of various sizes with no problem, although I do not normally put that many eggs under them (they were stealing eggs at the time).
    12-14 eggs for an Orpington hen is no challenge at all and she will sit very comfortably.

    The hens' nests will have to be separated (preventing access from the other hen) so they will not lay in each other's nests or steal eggs.
    Most hens prefer a sort of "private" nest area tucked in a corner of the coop away from traffic.

    For baby chicks I prefer the elastic leg bands (you can find them on ebay) because they're very easy to apply and remove.
    I band mine when they're day old chicks because I need to keep track of the colors.
    My day old Silkie chicks use a size 4 band, then using a size 6 when they're 3-4 weeks old.
    I originally started off using colored zip ties, but I didn't like cutting them off periodically and reapplying new ones.

    For my adult birds I use the numbered plastic bandettes.

    And [​IMG]
  3. twentynine

    twentynine Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2009
    Never count your chickens before they hatch.
  4. GardeningGrl

    GardeningGrl Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 11, 2012
    AlienChick -- Thank you so much for your help! I hadn't thought of the rubber band idea, though I wore braces for years and they seem like a similar product to the braces bands. Our broodiest hen is on the smaller size, but maybe I can put 16 under each and increase the possibility of actually hitting the numbers we'd like to! I have two dog crates that I'm considering setting up as brooding pens, as the pens don't look like they require a great deal of space, as long as the broody has access to plentiful fresh water and food -- does that sound reasonable to you?

    twentynine - Ha! Perhaps I should have phrased it "hoping" for 20 - 24 chicks!
  5. mothrhen

    mothrhen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2011
  6. AlienChick

    AlienChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY
    This is the size chart that I use.
    Hope this helps. [​IMG]

    No.- Band Size - Physical Size Fits
    2 1/8" Canaries, day old Quail
    3 5/32" Parakeet, 1-4 week old Quail, Doves, Cockatiels, Guinea keets
    4 1/4" Baby Chicken, Coturnix Quail, small Pigeon, adult Bobwhite Quail
    5 5/16" Pheasant hen, Tumblers, medium Pigeon, Homers, Wood Duck
    6 3/8" Pheasant cocks, month old Chickens, large Pigeons, Chukar Partridge
    7 7/16" Ringneck Pheasants, Mallards, Wild Ducks, Bantams, Feather Leg and Runt Pigeons
    9 9/16" Wild Ducks, Pheasants, Leghorn hens, Ancona, Silkie, Gamebirds
    10 5/8" Wild Turkey, Minorcas, Cross breeds, adult Guineas
    11 11/16" Rock hens, Wyandottes, Rhode Island Red hens, Leghorn cocks, medium Ducks: Runners, Swedish, Harlequin
    12 3/4" Wild Geese, Rocks, Turkey hens, Geese, Jersey Giants, Orpingtons, larger Ducks: Pekins, Rouens, Muscovy
    14 7/8" Canada Geese, Turkeys, Honkers, Jersey Giant Cocks

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