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Self-sustaining flock

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by dukefan70, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. dukefan70

    dukefan70 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have seven hens (2 buffs, 3 reds, 2 barred rocks) and a red rooster. My goal is to hatch chicks naturally, but I'm not opposed to using an incubator this year if that fails. My chickens are coming up on two years old so I want at least a few new ones this year. I want to learn how to facilitate the perpetuation of the flock I have, the old fashioned way. I read up on here last year and tried isolating one of the buffs in a large dog crate inside the coop when she was sitting. Didn't work well for her and no chicks out of several that were fertilized when I candled them. I'm going to try letting a broody hen sit in the bottom nesting box right on the floor this year, not isolated. Any help is much appreciated, but my first question is:

    When is it warm enough to let them start sitting? I'm in SE Mass and we've still got low temps and the potential for nasty weather this year. One of the buffs has already been spending time in the box, I've just been taking the eggs.
     
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Start now and the broody hen will do it the natural way. 21 days from now should not be that cold. When you do it the natural way, your hatching rate will most likely be lower then using incubator. But doing it naturally is an advantage, because you don't need a brooder to raise baby chicks. Mama chicken does all the heavy lifting. WISHING YOU BEST.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Not too cold...I had a broody hatch 7 of 7 in Jan/Feb this year...took some extra management, but 6 are now 4 weeks old.(cause of 1 death was undetermined). She kept them warm thru -12F temps. I isolated her behind wire in the main coop for several reasons, and it made it easier to monitor her eating drinking and pooping, I removed wire wall after chicks were 2 weeks old.

    Keeping broody right in with flock can be problematic because of other hens wanting to lay on her nest(mark fertile eggs all set at same time then remove any others on a daily basis) or broody getting up for daily constitutional and going back to the wrong nest....I'd be ready with a plan to isolate broody behind wire if problems occur, but it could work just fine. I've read lots of stories of both.


    ETA: Here's good place to read about broodies and ask questions,
    Broody Hen Thread
    several very helpful and experienced people there to answer questions pretty quickly.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    Has she been sitting in the box day and night for more than 2 - 3 days? Have you checked your eggs for fertility? Are they fertile? If the answer to all 3 ?s is yes, you could give it a go. But, I'd still move her to a secure location first. Perhaps give her some fake eggs for a day or two, then move her, the nest, and the fake eggs to a nice dark secluded nest spot, and block her in there for the next 24 hours. If she settles well on the nest, then you can give her the fertile eggs.
     
  5. dukefan70

    dukefan70 Out Of The Brooder

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    Exactly. I've read that other hens or even the rooster can go after the chicks when they're small, but I've also read a momma hen will defend chicks vigorously even from the rooster.
    It would be tight, but I could wire off a several square feet in the coop if I had to. Maybe I'd make a separate nest box in the corner because my 3 nest boxes are stacked so if I wired off the ground level one now, the others couldn't lay where they normally do (they like the top one mostly). I do know to mark the eggs. I just don't want the hen very isolated this time because last time after keeping her in the dog crate in the coop she was very weak and had a hard time roosting for a few days. And her "reintroduction" into the flock was brutal.
    That's the thing, she's not consistent yet. I just wanted to be prepared. Most of them are I just candled them at 7 days last time. The rooster gets around.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  7. dukefan70

    dukefan70 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks I did not know that about looking for the spot on the yolk. Nice nest box...what is that about 16 wide by 20 by 20? How many pullets did you have in there until how old?
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    First, you can't make a broody go broody, but mine tend to go broody in late May, but I don't add artificial light.

    Personally, I am a believer that a hen knows more about being broody than people do, and frankly I have had the best luck when I let her do it just exactly how she wants to do it.
    Mine picks a nest, crawls in and settles down, and the rest of the world pretty much leaves her alone. Once every two days or so, I will go down with a towel, and pull her out of the nest to check for stray eggs. Mine are never locked in position, and I know that once a day or so, she does get down and takes care of business. The most important part is allowing her to be with the flock, last time, I put her out, (and you need to be careful, cause she will tuck eggs even up under her wing) she walked out, whipped a laying hen for standing in the wrong spot, puffed up at the rooster, and I swear he said, "Butter, I know you are broody, but I AM the rooster." And everyone in the flock just gave her space. She generally is off less than 10 minutes.

    I did come down one even, and sure enough, she was on the wrong nest. More than likely, while she was out, another hen got into her nest and laid an egg. It was October, and the eggs were cool to the touch, but I didn't have anything to lose, so I put her back on the nest, and came back to the house and did some research on this website, and many said there would be no problems. They were right, they hatched just fine on schedule. I assume, that after the heart starts beating, the eggs themselves produce some heat. It just does not have to be perfect.

    After mine hatch, my broody has always left the dirty shell filled nest, and created a new nest on the floor. She will stay with the chicks there for about 3-4 weeks. At that time I put a wide board up near the roosts, at that height, and she will get them up there. They are roosting with the flock.

    The beauty of this system, is they are raised right in the flock, there is no introduction to the flock, no separate flocks. They learn chicken society rules.

    It works for me. I don't have a large flock about a dozen. I don't have a huge coop, about 5 x 6 coop with a nice large run.

    Mrs K
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
  10. dukefan70

    dukefan70 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 24, 2014
    Southeast MA
    Nice. Simple is good.
    Haha thanks Mrs. K. That cracked me up. As far as the beauty of the system, that's exactly what I'm trying to do, so thanks for the advice.
     

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