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Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by klevesque, Nov 12, 2009.
Why do people incubate their eggs if they have hens? Why not let the hens do it naturally?
I wondered that too - though with no Rooster, we don't really have to worry
(don't tell the girls though!!!)
Most hens never go broody. Hatchery stock, in particular, has had that trait bred out of many breeds. Only my non-hatchery stock has ever gone broody, with the exception of my banty Cochin.
In addition to that, some of us want breeds that are not available from hatcheries or much better stock. When we get eggs, the hen may not be broody. I'd love to use broody hens, but you cant put 42 eggs under a broody and you can't make a hen go broody anyway, if you could.
It depends on how badly you need/want your eggs to hatch. Some broody hens will leave the nest before the hatch and then the eggs are wasted. Also timing can be controlled better when you start a batch in the bator. A hen can only sit on so many eggs so if you want lots at one time, you incubate them.
Also, while a hen is broody, she does not lay eggs.
Then there is the wonderful hen who hatches all her chicks and the critters get them
Lots of reasons to incubate, but it's neat to have hens hatch them also.
I have some really lousy hens. Some never go broody because of their breed. Others have killed chicks, abandoned the nest before they hatch . Mostly its nearly impossible for me to isolate a broody. When I do, she gets mad and leaves the nest. She ends up setting on a communal nest and the eggs don't all hatch at once, several end up dying or they get killed by the other hens setting on the nest or the other hens using the nest kick the eggs out or eat the eggs! Its so frustrating. I've tried marking the eggs I wanted hatched and collecting the rest daily. Eventually all of the marked eggs just disappeared!
I had one hen smart enough to make a nest in our hayloft and hatched 11 chicks. Since then we had another one try it with 8 eggs. That hen got killed by a fox or a racoon, even though she was way up in the loft!! I was so upset. Otherwise, with hens trying to hatch in the hen house, I've only been able to get about a maximum of four to make full term and survive. I just have some hens that are lousy moms too! A lot of my current hens were cast offs from other people, so I guess I know now why they got rid of them! I'm hatching my own right now to get some of my own stock! Plus hatching is fun!
I do both, when a hen goes broody I let her sit and do her thing. But the eggs are usually mixed. If I buy eggs, I usually put them in the incubator. I have had hens do some weird things and I would rather be in charge sometimes.
Hens are great incubators, but their timing and reliability are not always the best. I have 2-4 hens that are wonderful broodies and great mamas, so i don't use an incubator. That said, I have to wait until one goes broody to hatch out eggs. Usually, once 1 goes broody I will have at least 1 other follow suit. Then I have to be careful b/c if I have the latter broody hatch out before the first one it may cause the first one to come off her nest. Confusing, right? It can be. I suppose that's why people use incubators. Furthermore, you have to mark and keep an eye on your eggs if the broody hen is in the coop where the others lay, as mine always are. The other hens will sit on her and lay, or rush in when she goes to feed/dust and lay in her clutch. This can cause problems with harvesting partially developed eggs or a staggered hatch which doesn't work because 2-3 days after the first hatch the hen will come off the nest to care for her young despite other eggs that may even be pipping.
There's more, and once you use hens to incubate you see the cons. Still, I like all the drama of a setting hen and will continue to use them as my incubators...besides, it keeps my flock numbers more modest, which they would not be if I had an incubator and could hatch whatever i wanted whenever i wanted (boy that would be dangerous )
sounds like a LOT of good reasons to incubate ...
I'm incubating just to see if I can. I've never done it before so it is a project for me and my grandsons. They are due to hatch this Sunday so wish us luck.
Thanks to all of you for clearing that up!