Raising chicks in with my other chickens

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by PO in MO, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. PO in MO

    PO in MO Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, new to the forum. Been raising barred rocks from a hatchery for 2 years. Started with 10 layers but down to 7 and have a rooster. Several of my hens went broody as soon as they were mature enough but I broke them of it at that time. I am at a point I would like to start replacing some of my flock and getting back up to 10 layers. Was hoping since last spring I might get a broody hen again but up until two days ago that hasn't happened. I was getting ready to buy an incubator. On Friday one hen was setting on 3 eggs when I went out to shut up the coop. On Saturday she was still there and I had one more egg so I stuck that under her too. Today she is still there so I am very hopeful I have a broody hen, finally.

    1. Is this the wrong time of year to attempt this, I am in MO but have a very well insulated coop with a heat lamp I turn on on frigid nights, my inside water bowl never freezes.

    2. Can I hatch these in with my other chickens? (My coop is 6' X10')

    3. If you recommend I don't hatch these with my other birds, I will probably build a small chicken tractor to accommodate them. My question is: The nest box she is in is part of a 4 box assembly. I can't move her and her nest to the chicken tractor as a unit. I will have to take her and the eggs out of her current nest box and put her in a new one. What are the odds of getting away with that?

    4. Can I stick a few more eggs under her today? She is a nice size barred rock and I think she could accommodate 3 or 4 more easily. If she is going to stick with this I would like to get as many as possible not knowing if I will get lucky enough to get another broody hen, but is it too late since she has already been on the others for 2 days?

    Any help greatly appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014
  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you put more under her it will be a staggered hatch. I suggest today being your last day to put some more under her. Keep food and water within reach of her near hatching time so she is still able to teach the already hatched chicks how to eat and drink while she is still trying to hatch out the rest. Moving her is up to you and your flock. If she is bothered by the flock you will need to move her, if they don't bother her then she is fine where she is. You have a few options, you can enclose her where she is (shelf and covering in front of the nest box) or you can move her to a completely different area. If you have to move her you want to do it at night and move the eggs first then her. If you move her first she will go back to the first nest and may be spooked enough not to continue to sit. When the chicks are hatched the broody should protect them from the rest of the flock. Don't be surprised if she attacks another member to protect the chicks from harm.
     
  3. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What Foreverlearning said. And by the time you take the hen out of production for 3 months to raise chicks, which half of them will be roosters that you have to feed or get rid of, and then the usual attrition rate due to chicken death, you would be better off to just go buy 3 new hens.
     
  4. PO in MO

    PO in MO Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the replies. I never thought of putting an enclosed shelf in front of her nest box, that is an option I hadn't thought of. I have been looking for more info today and found some, this was a big help. I have a shed that I raise rabbits in that has quite a bit of unused space at one end and may try to set something up in there. Will pay attention to what you said on the best way to move them.

    And yes it would probably be cheaper to go buy chickens, I can buy eggs cheaper at the store than I can produce them, but I don't choose to do that either. I will eat the roosters.
     
  5. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wasn't thinking what's cheaper but was remembering last year when I decided to "hatch out a few replacements" and it got out of hand and turned into a huge headache. lol
    Maybe this will be some useful information; basically what was already said with elucidation as to how my own chickens do it; your chickens may vary:
    My hens always hatch their chicks in the layer pen with the rest of the hens but I have to remove them soon afterward because my hens get super agressive when they have chicks, attacking anything that moves. Each of my hens has to have her own pen to raise her chicks.
    Staggered hatches work ok sometimes if I remove the chicks as soon as they hatch because that will keep the hen on the nest longer. If I don't remove the new chicks right away, after a day or so the hen & whatever chicks she has will jump out of the nest and abandon the rest of the eggs. I've never had a problem re-introducing the removed chicks several days later.
    I mark the incubating eggs with a sharpie so I can identify & gather the new eggs the other hens will lay in her nest every day. I pile the straw in the nestbox deep around the hen and build her a deep bowl shaped nest and my medium size hens can incubate 18 med-large eggs comfortably. I wouldn't try that many eggs with a large heavy hen.
    Personally I never had any luck moving a setting hen. Hens in the same pen will change nests every time they jump down to eat but if I move them to a different pen or cage they always fuss & pace and try to go back to the original location instead of accepting the new nest.
     
  6. PO in MO

    PO in MO Out Of The Brooder

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    I appreciate the information, especially shared from experience. Kind of a moot point now, I went out last nite to shut them up and she was on the roost and the eggs were cold. Probably a good thing. I think I am down to 2 options, incubator or buy chicks. I have been reading a little about incubators and I know some of them take a great deal of attention to use successfully. Was looking in my farm store this morning and their hovabator with the fan was 88 dollars and the egg turner another 50. I think a order of 20 chicks with shipping would pay for about half of the incubator. Will have to do some more reading on the subject. I have fed a rooster for 2 years thinking I would go this route and would like to try it. Again, thanks for taking the time to share your experience.
     
  7. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1 thing about an incubator; you can set random eggs as soon as they're laid instead of saving them and hoping a hen may go broody, or having to deal with the staggered hatch issue, managing broody hens & their nests, etc.
     
  8. PO in MO

    PO in MO Out Of The Brooder

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    Good point. I just have to decide which would be the best for me. I have read some threads about how much attention and tinkering some of the cheaper models require to successfully hatch chicks. I checked on the price of chicks a day or two ago and with the shipping it looked like 25 would cost about half the price of the incubator and egg turner. i haven't done any looking into the pros and cons of the particular unit I was looking at but I think from prior reading it works ok. Since they are available locally at several places, whatever I buy will be thoroughly checked out and if it won't hold the proper temp and whatever else it is supposed to do, I will keep returning it until I get one that does what is supposed to. I am really tired of buying crap that doesn't work. Thanks for the input, CL13.
     
  9. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    1: It is not the best way to run a rail road but your coop is immaterial to your success or lack of success hatching eggs. As long as she is safe, dry and she is not away from the nest for too long, most hens can successfully hatch a clutch of eggs that are on the frozen ground.

    2. as long as the mother hen remains with her offspring she will do all their heavy fighting for them and the chicks should be fine.

    3. Separate quarters however is always better when raising young livestock.

    4. No. The new eggs won't catch up with the others under the hen and once a hen hatches out the first eggs and the chicks are dry, the brood hen will get antsy, and she will voluntary abandon the nest and all your piped but still wet chicks to die from exposure. If you confine the hen to the nest involuntary she will still get antsy and trample to death ALL the chicks and eggs under her.

    5. new born chicks come into this world knowing how to eat and drink. While I like raising chicks with mother hens (as long as it is practical) how do the billions and billions of commercially chicks hatched every year learn how to eat and drink without a mother? The best description I can give for a mother hens' love of her chicks is benign interest or maybe it's interested neglect, but that is a thousand times better than what most of us humans get into our heads about how to raise baby chicks.

    If you were me (and I know that you're not) I would wait for a more "convenient" season to hatch chicks, like maybe late March, April or even May. Hens usually get the urge to sit several times each year, so by having a whole sitting or two of fertile and viable eggs on hand you can be relatively sure of hatching as well as raising enough chicks of the proper sex to fulfill your need for eggs as well as for replacement pullets.

    Turn all your sitting eggs once a day and keep them in a cool dark place. Then when you have another hen or hens take to the nest you'll have a couple of "sitting" of eggs on hand to slip under your sitting hens, remember only use your freshest eggs. This will result in happier, healthier, and more vigorous chicks. In the meantime make sure that you have a separate nest box with a full top to accommodate each setting hen, and allow her to lay and go broody in her own private nest. After having twenty or thirty total or near total hatching failures you'll learn why I say this. The problem is whether the eggs you set have been chilled to the point of killing the embryo or germ.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  10. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    How do you propose to lock down an incubator with several different age classes of eggs in it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014

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