Thinking about breeding (very small scale)


7 Years
May 7, 2012
Wimberley, TX
I have some Buckeyes coming in in a few weeks, and my intent is to keep them segregated from the rest of the flock - RIRs, NHRs, BRs, Ameracaunas - and try raising some chicks. The current flock is simply for fresh eggs - at least for now.

The incoming chicks are 8 hens and 1 roo - OK on roo to hen ratio, right? In anticipation of this new venture on my chicken journey - relatively new at this, although I was fairly successful with eggs a few years ago (not hatching them) - I've started reading on egg care, incubation, hatching, etc. Now I'm starting off more confused than I was when I started! So, if'n y'all don't mind, I'd like to ask a few questions to assist me in understanding what I'm reading:

(1) Lots of referrals to "broodys" - I understand the term, I think, but does this mean not all hens sit their eggs? Out of 8 hens, will I have at least one who sit the eggs? I've been thinking I'd like for everything to be natural, but should I invest in an incubator and not leave this to chance?

(2) 8 hens - go out one morning after they start laying and find 7 new eggs. Assume they're fertile and leave them there (assuming no incubator)? If I candle them - which is also slightly confusing - at day 7-10 and there are no veins, can they still be harvested to eat?

(3) What the heck is "lockdown"?

The hens I had before pretty much laid an egg a day each - don't think I want to be trying to hatch 4 dozen eggs each week, so

(4) How do you decide when - and which eggs - to harvest eggs to eat and when to leave them in the nest?

I have many more questions, but answers to these will help me better understand what I'm reading in these Raising Baby Chicks threads, and maybe cut back on some of the additional questions. One last question...

Is there a "Hatching Eggs for Dummies" book?
1. Hens basically have 2 settings. One where they lay eggs and one where they sit on eggs to get them to hatch. The majority of hens will stay in egg laying mode. However some breeds eg cochins and silkies are more likely to switch to incubating mode.

This means they will stop laying anymore eggs and will try and hatch any eggs they see lying about. If you plan to use a broody hen then seperate her and give her a golf ball or something to sit on for a couple of days and collect up freshly laid eggs. The when you have as many eggs as you want to hatch you take the golf ball away and put the eggs in it's place. The golf ball acts as a fake egg to keep the hen interested. It doesn't fool some hens though an you may need to get a fake eggs.

I'm not familiar with the breed your getting so i don't know how likely they are to go broody. If you want a regular addition of chicks i'd purchase an incubator.

2. If eggs are heated up by hens then they will begin to grow and will keep growing provided they are kept warm. So if no hen is sitting on them you can leave them lying around as long as you want and they'll still not have any babies in them. So you can eat them.

3. Lockdown is the name given to the last few days of artificial incubation whereby you do not open the incubator up. This means the humidity will stay relatively constant.

4. I "harvest" the eggs every day. If i have a broody hen i seperate her and give her whichever eggs i would like ehr to hatch. Ideally the best shaped ones.

Some say if you leave eggs in the nest allowing the hen to see a clutch of eggs will stimulate her to switch to being broody. I have had 3 secret nests whereby the hens have hidden their eggs and the only reason i've found them is that one of my hens suddenly disappears to go off and sit on them.

Hope this helps you.
Not all hens will sit on eggs. If your buckeyes are from a breeder then at least one should go broody... eventually. Hatchery buckeyes will probably never go broody. I would definetly buy an incubator. Do NOT eat eggs that have already been incubated. When you want a hen to hatch eggs wait until one is broody. Then you collect eggs for up to a week keeping them in a cool humid place in the mean time. I turn eggs that are in storage. Don't store eggs in the fridge. Lock down happens the last three days of incubating the eggs. What you do is you take the eggs out of the turner and lay them flat. Then you will crank the humidity up to about 65%. During this time don't open the incubator just leave the eggs be. Also i advise against helping chicks hatch. Lock down allows the chicks to get ready to hatch. Hatching eggs are decided by if they are clean and a normal shape and size. If the eggs are dirty just use them for eating. Usually people hatch chicks in spring. If you have more questions just ask.

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