what if I don't want to use an incubator?


In the Brooder
9 Years
Sep 9, 2010
NW Arkansas - Huntsville
I've never hatched chicks and thought we'd see how it goes -
naturally... I mean, chickens have been setting and hatching
eggs since chicken time began.

What would I have to do differently to have chickens hatch
their own eggs?

We plan to wait for summer so that it's warm enough... do I
have to move mummy and eggs to another location?

How many eggs will a hen sit on at a time? I don't think that
I want to get into major production... just add a few more
chicks to make up for the ones that my dog has killed.

Terri O

10 Years
Jan 2, 2010
WI~chickening for 30 years!
Now Now, sometimes dogs do get out and they do kill chickens...it is just a dog thing, fun for them...not so fun for the chickens (or us!) But accidents do happen...

As for your question: Sometimes hens will go and hide their nest and you are surprised when they show up trailing their new family. Sometimes the hen will go broody and sit on eggs in a nest box in the coop and hatch her babies. The problem with this scenario is that the other hens can hop into the nest and lay new eggs and you might get eggs that are partially developed when the original hen decides to get off the nest with the already hatched ones in tow. Then unless you have another broody those eggs die. (I have been in the situation) The other thing you can do is to put the broody hen inside somewhere on eggs in the dark. She might take the eggs and she might not...you can let her out to eat and drink and then close her in when she goes back. THis is what my neighbor does with great success.
Good luck! Terri O


Crazy for Colors
10 Years
Oct 19, 2009
Forks, WA
One big important thing you must consider here is having a hen of the right breed and strain that it will actually go broody.
Do you have one you KNOW will go broody (set eggs) or has done so in the past? If you do, she'll do it whenever she wants, but it is easy to get her to do so at any time of year. My Araucanas for example will do it whenever they can. However, hatchery strains, it being bred out, are very unlikely to set and incubate eggs.

A hen will set on as many eggs as she can fit. Often it exceeds 12 eggs, depending on the hen's size and amount of fluff. The optimal place to have a hen go broody is away from the others' nesting area so they don't bother her, and away from predator dangers, such as dogs. You really don't need to wait for summer though. In fact, having a hen take care of chicks makes them MUCH hardier to cold climates than putting them in a brooder. Mine, when born and raised in the winter, will run around just fine on the frosty landscape, while a chick raised under the constant heat of a brooder will likely die if exposed too long in such harsh weather.


8 Years
Jan 31, 2011
Drummond, OK
Heard that dog saliva is poisonous to pet birds dunno if this applies to chickens also. But my Mastiff mix loves lil chicks and wants to lick them but I dont let him cause worried about the saliva thing.


12 Years
Jun 4, 2009
Dutchess County NY
If you have a broody sit on eggs and other hens lay in the same nest you can simply mark the original eggs and then check the nest daily for new (unmarked) eggs and remove them. I marked mine with a carpenters pencil.

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