To hatch or not to hatch?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Chicks Galore3, Nov 18, 2016.

  1. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut Premium Member

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    I am currently sitting out in my chicken coop in a conundrum.
    My almost 5 year old BO (who is my favorite) is currently sitting in the nesting box laying an egg. Which doesn't happen very often, so it is worth it's weight it gold. I have a broody silkie right now. (2, actually. [​IMG]) I am sorely tempted to let the silkie hatch her egg. Is that a stupid idea considering it is the middle of November? It is possible to move the broody into the basement now or when the eggs hatch if need be. Or are the odds just too great to try?
     
  2. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut Premium Member

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    I watched her lay the egg and gave her roughly 10 seconds with it before I snatched it away. I have never carried an egg to the house more carefully in my life. I really really want to try and hatch it. (There is a good chance it is fertilized.) Should I let broody sit on it outside, or should I bring her into warmer temperatures? (Giving her a couple days to adjust to the change, of course.) The highs are 40s-50s and the lows are 20s-30s.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You would be far better off waiting until the end of February for this little endeavor, and so would the resulting chick(s). Try to rethink this and be realistic about the cold weather ahead.
     
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  4. Pyxis

    Pyxis Dark Sider Premium Member

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    I actually do hatch this time of year, and I'm in cold and snowy VT. As long as you can keep them warm and have space to brood them it's fine. With a hen doing the brooding you're probably fine - chicks are surprisingly tough and can handle really cold temperatures as long as they can get under the broody when they get cold.

    BUT, I only do it because I have a detached workshop that I can brood them in if I have to, such as if the hen rejects them. I really don't want chicks in my house for months waiting until they are feathered enough to be weaned off heat and go outside, which could happen if the hen rejects the chicks, so take that into consideration before you do it.

    Since this hen is five years old, doesn't lay a lot, may die soon, and she is your favorite and you want offspring from her, then you have to weigh that against the possible risk of having to have a chick inside for months until spring and decide if you want to go for it.
     
  5. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut Premium Member

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    I would love to hear more about your experiences, Pyxis. I want to go into this knowing what I am getting myself in to. I do have a separate area where I can raise the chicks if broody rejects them/or if it's just plain old too cold.
     
  6. Pyxis

    Pyxis Dark Sider Premium Member

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    So, I hatch all year long because I cannot stand to let eggs go to waste, so if I don't sell them (usually to someone in a warmer climate) I hatch them. I have been able to brood chicks outside in the winter as long as they have access to a heat source that will warm them back up. I usually use a heat lamp for this, but it has been done with a heat plate and I believe also with the mama heating pad method. They just dart underneath it when they need to warm up. The same would be true of a broody hen.

    The chicks grow up in the cold and by the time the mother hen abandons them they are acclimated and good to go. It's trickier with a heat lamp or other heat source, but mine are usually off heat by three months.

    Of course if you do have to raise chicks yourself power outages can be a problem. I prepare for that by having hand warmers on hand to use in case of those. If the broody does raise the chicks (I would do more than one egg so you don't have a lone chick in the case that you do need to raise them yourself) then power outages aren't a concern because a broody doesn't lose power, lol.
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’ll repeat a lot of what Pylis said because that’s good advice. I regularly hatch chicks in February and brood them outside. I did get some chicks in late fall one year when a dog attack wiped out so many I had to pretty much start over. I don’t get as cold as some people, it seldom gets more than a few degrees below zero Fahrenheit here. I think that still qualifies me to talk about this.

    My 3’ x 6’ brooder is in the coop. I heat one end and let the far end cool off as it will. In cold weather (which can mean into early spring) I wrap it entirely in plastic to conserve heat. I still find frost in the far end some mornings, but the end the chicks are on stays warm. In the summer my concern is it getting too hot. A brooder big enough to keep one area cool enough in the hottest weather and another area warm enough in the coldest weather allows the chicks to self-regulate. If they need to warm up, they will go warm up. If they need to cool off, they will go cool off. A lot of the time they go back and forth.

    [​IMG]


    I use heat lamps but there are other ways to provide a warm spot, some others use different things. The chicks don’t care what the heat source is, they just need a heat source when they need it.

    Extreme weather, hot or cold, are riskier than milder days and nights. One summer during a ridiculous heat wave I turned the daytime heat off in this brooder at 2 days, the overnight heat was turned off at 5 days. Their body language told me they did not need it and they did not. I often leave it on for five weeks or more in cold weather. At really cold times I have less reaction time if I have a power outage. I have a generator I can crank up and hook up, but it takes time. If you brood in the house and have a power outage you have more reaction time. I have not had to crank that generator up yet due to a power outage.

    With mine being raised in the outside brooder and the far end of the brooder really cooling off, my chicks acclimate to the cold pretty well. I’ve had chicks less than 6 weeks old go through nights with a low of the mid 20’s Fahrenheit with no problems. They were in an unheated grow-out coop that had good ventilation up high but good breeze protection down low where they were. I generally feed them a 20% chick starter so their feathers have come in pretty well. There is more to it than just age and temperature. The quality of your outside facilities, how fast they feather out, and how well they are acclimated all makes a difference.

    You have to consider integration too. I have a lot of space and the facilities to handle integration or keep then separate if I wish. Depending on circumstances I normally integrate at 5 or 8 weeks with my brooder-raised chicks. I let my broody hens raise with the flock so they handle integration. I’ve done it and I can handle it. I don’t know what your facilities look like or what kind of experience you have handling integration. It may be a serious consideration for you, especially in winter if you have a lot of snow and outside space is limited.

    I also agree very much in hatching more than just one. Chickens are social animals and do a lot better with company. Also, if they do get cold they can huddle together to help share body heat. Regardless of the temperature my chicks sleep in a group anyway, they like the company. Them sleeping together does not mean they are cold.

    I don’t get broodies in the winter. If I did in February when I want chicks I’d give them eggs to hatch with the flock and let them raise the chicks with the flock instead of using my incubator and brooder. @Aart has a thread where a broody hatched eggs and raised chicks in a Michigan winter. My personal experience with hatching and raising chicks in winter is with an incubator and brooder.

    If you wish you can try moving a broody into your basement or some other protected place. She may break from being moved but people do it all the time. You may or may not be able to stand having a chicken in the house. If you wish you can let her raise the chicks for you with the flock or in a protected place. Or you can take away any chicks she hatches and raise them yourself. There are risks involved with anything you do. Are the risks too great? Not for me but they may be for you. We are all unique.
     
  8. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut Premium Member

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    Thank you guys so much!

    I have plenty of space/options for raising the chicks either with or without broody, and for integration. I've raised chicks with a broody two times before, so I have a little experience.

    One question - do I need to provide heat on the broody before the eggs are hatched? Just thinking that any getting off the nest to eat/drink could chill the eggs quickly without additional heat.
     

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