To Natural or to...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by CityBredCountry, Dec 2, 2014.

  1. CityBredCountry

    CityBredCountry Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 1, 2014
    This is my first batch of chickens. I have barred rocks and sex-links (30 in all). We are going to start having eggs this spring and wanted to know how to raise the chicks that we will be getting.

    I know that a lot of people take the eggs, and throw them in an incubator then into the brooding box, then adapt them to the chickens that they already have. But why not let nature do it's thing and let the chicks run with momma hen?

    Is there a reason not to let her take them and raise them naturally, or benefits to taking over our way?

    I am sure that we will keep some chicks and sell off the others, will there be separation problems?
  2. Pyxis

    Pyxis Hatchi Wan Kenobi Premium Member

    Mar 27, 2012
    My Coop
    There's no problem at all with letting mother hen raise them (as you can probably see from my avatar). In fact I prefer to do it that way. I incubate too because a hen can only hatch and care for so many chicks, and of course she needs to be broody before you can have her hatch and raise them. For more info on letting a broody hen to raise chicks, see this article:
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    We are all different with different goals, set-ups, and conditions. Hens have been raising chicks with the flock since there were chickens. People have been incubating eggs and brooding chicks since the ancient Egyptians. There is nothing wrong with either approach, it’s just which one suits our goals and conditions better.

    Some of the benefits I see to letting a broody hen raise them is that she handles integration and does all the work. Her internal heater never has a power outage. She provides protection and teaches them to eat, drink, and all that.

    With incubator/brooder chicks, you have to handle all the chores of raising them plus integration. That includes heat, food, water, and managing the poop. Brooder raised chicks are easier to tame and make into cuddly pets. Not all hens go broody and you have no control over when one does go broody. Hens have a limited capacity of how many eggs they can hatch and how many chicks they can raise. With an incubator you have control over timing and with a larger incubator you can handle a lot more eggs or chicks at a time.

    Will there be separation problems? Not really. Chickens are prey animals. They hatch a lot of chicks because in the wild many don’t make it, mainly due to predators. If a hen loses a chick, she hardly bats an eye, just goes on taking care of the rest. If she loses all of them she will be upset for a day or two, but soon goes back to being a hen in the flock instead of a grieving mother. After they are weaned and old enough to make their way into the pecking order, there might be a little disruption if the chickens higher in the pecking order are removed, but that is normally resolved very quickly and without a lot of disruption. Adolescent chicks and members lower in the pecking order can usually be removed without any real upset to the pecking order. Part of that depends on how many chickens you have. The more you have the less likely to have a disruption.

    Chicken social order is set up for members of the flock to occasionally be lost to predators and the flock to go on. There can be some disruption but it is usually pretty minor and usually resolved in a very short time.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'm always willing to let momma do the heavy lifting for me [​IMG]. Nothing is as sastisfying as watching a momma hen with chicks, IMO.

    But, my hens haven't always been willing to brood, so I do have an incubator for when I want chicks on my schedule, not hers.
  5. Toni Barrett

    Toni Barrett Out Of The Brooder

    I have had 4 broody hens and just pop a few extra eggs under them. So far 2 successful lots and 2 with no results. At the moment I have another two hens sitting so looking forward to the results in 18 days or so.

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