Questions about hatching babies. New to raising chickens.

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by AshleyBelle, Sep 7, 2014.

  1. AshleyBelle

    AshleyBelle In the Brooder

    Apr 13, 2014
    Bloomington, IN
    Hi all! I tried searching through some posts so I wouldn't ask something that's already been posted so I apologize if it has and I didn't come across it. I am super new to raising chicks. Our hens and rooster are now 21 weeks give or take a couple of days. We have 6 hens (3 RIRs, 2 BAs & 1 Buff Orp) and 1 rooster (BA).

    We want to have baby chicks so here are my questions...

    1) Is it too late in the year to start hatching? We live in southern Indiana.

    2) They all started laying around late 17 to 18 weeks old. Their eggs don't seem to be completely full grown yet. Some eggs are a little bigger than others, we find some eggs still small, about once a week we find a GIANT one. Is there a certain timeframe from when they first start laying until we can successfully start hatching or incubating eggs? Do they need to be laying longer before we try?

    3) We don't have a clue which hens lay which least 4 of the 6 share 1 nest box. So, will 1 or 2 broody hens sit on another hens eggs as her own?

    4) How do I know if I leave the eggs in the box that they will sit on them and be broody?

    5) Usually when I go collect them, the eggs are cool so does that mean I don't have any broody momma's?

    6) My favorite RIR seems to like one of the nest boxes and pecked at my boyfriend when he tried to collect the egg. Could she be broody?

    7) I don't see any of them staying in the boxes. But, we also don't leave the eggs out there for more than 12 hours because we collect them at least twice a day. Should we try putting some golf balls or fake eggs down to see if someone's broody?

    8) We have considered incubating but I wanted to see it done the all natural way, also. If we incubate, how do we introduce new baby chicks to the flock?

    That is all I can think of right now. Sorry for all the randomness of these. We just want to be sure we are doing everything properly and appropriately.

    Thank you in advance!!! :)

  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    First, they will go broody, if they do, at their own pace. You can't make it happen. Some people do feel that leaving eggs in a nest encourages this, but I have my doubts, or at least that it happens often. ?

    What will most likely happen is one or some will go brood next spring, when the eggs are larger and when it's more comfortable for the chicks. However, the mama will keep the chicks warm even in cold weather, of she does hatch in fall or even winter. Also, those first eggs are not ideal for hatching; the are more likely to have hatching problems. Larger eggs jut do better.

    Chickens don't care shose eggs they sit on -- or, probabl, don't know. People hatch duck eggs, etc. under chickens. If they are all together, they may very well trade nests, steal eggs from other nests, lay eggs where someone else is setting, return to the wrong nest after their daily outing, etc.

    When a hen goes broody, you will be able to tell by her behavior. It is a hormonal change. She doesn'tneed the resence of eggs. She will stay on the nest 24/7, she willl growl at you if you reach for her while on the nest even if she usually likes to be picked up, and if you pick her up and set her on the ground off the nest, she will "flatten out" and set, as if covering a big pile of eggs. Usually people assume she is really broody if she spends at least one, or maybe two, full days and nights on the nest.

    Chicks from incubated eggs are best raised separately, in a brooder with a heat lamp, and not integrated into the flock for many weeks, until they are at or neaar full size. After a few weeks of brooding, it's best to make a place for them to live where they can see and hear the flock but have a fence between. (Chicks raised b a mama are already integrated when the mama stops mothering.)

    I'll give you a couple of links that give a more complete picture. You will see that different people do it different ways -- and they pretty much all work.

    Good luck!

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