julnjake

Chirping
8 Years
Aug 20, 2011
108
0
89
SW PA
Ok I'm new to this chicken thing and I don't get it, what's the reasoning for using an incubator verses letting the hen sit on the eggs? And for the ones who do let the hen sit on them it seems they take the babies from her right away, why? Can you just let nature take its course from beginning to end? Sorry for my ignorance.
 

Cattitude

Songster
9 Years
May 6, 2010
2,067
18
171
Cat Country, west KY/TN border
It's a way for people without grown chickens to get started, and also to acquire breeds they otherwise wouldn't be able to get. Plus, some folks like to improve their chosen favorite breed or to develop a variation within a breed. At least, that's why I incubate eggs. Probably loads more reasons out there!
 

ronniewayne

Songster
8 Years
Aug 7, 2011
352
28
113
QUEEN CITY,CASS COUNTY
answer # 1 you might not have hens that go broody....or if they do they might not go broody when you want them to.....or you might want to set more eggs than they are capable of...
answer #2 you can usually raise a larger % than the hen will if you just let nature take its course...just my opinion...maybe some of the experts will know more...good luck with your chicks
 

julnjake

Chirping
8 Years
Aug 20, 2011
108
0
89
SW PA
Thank you for your answers. I'm not having any chicks anytime soon, I rescued 20 chickens 2 weeks ago and don't want to add more than that to the flock. But a year or so down the road I may want to hatch a few for the kids to experience and may be ready to add a few to the flock then. Just curious right now.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
25,278
15,446
766
Holts Summit, Missouri
I do it all three ways depending on need. Free ranging hens produce highest quality chicks, those that survive that is. Use of incubator and brooder enables production of a larger number of chicks. Hens used used simply for incubation provides better hatch rate than incubator. Absolute best for me has been to incubate eggs, hand raise (more interaction than brooder) so chicks imprint on me, raise females up and use those as broodies. Such hens enable me to handle them and chicks even in free range setting. I can take eggs even from my foulest tempered gamehens and produce sweet natured broodhens that to do not present a risk to me becuase of flogging.
 

Southwellski

In the Brooder
8 Years
Aug 28, 2011
60
0
39
Feltwell, UK
We rescued 8 ex batts and a rooster and ex batts just don't go broody. We are incubating some of their eggs (5/6 pipped as we speak - scaryyyyyy and exciting) and I ordered some Buff Orp eggs too because I was being quoted £40 a bird!
 

Gypsy07

Songster
9 Years
Feb 4, 2010
2,286
55
193
Glasgow, Scotland
I've been keeping chickens for a few years and it's only this year I've had a bird go broody. Some breeds just don't EVER go broody, and they're usually the ones that have been bred to lay the most eggs, so if you keep and want to breed good eggers, you'll usually be looking at incubating them yourself.

My hen that hatched out three chicks, I left them with her as she's quite tame and friendly already, but if she was wild, skittish, or just plain unfriendly towards me, I'd probably have taken the chicks and reared them myself to make sure they turned out friendlier than her. I prefer birds that I can handle reasonably easily as adults.
 

HEChicken

Crowing
10 Years
Aug 12, 2009
7,552
203
336
BuCo, KS
My Coop
I've always wanted a broody but in years of keeping them, including deliberately getting breeds said to go broody often, never had one, so had to resort to incubating myself. Finally a month ago one of my hens went broody (ironically, a breed that rarely broods) and I was thrilled to let her sit. She is now happily raising the 7 chicks that resulted from her first brooding attempt and no, I would never take the chicks away from a hen who worked so hard - in triple digit temps no less - to hatch those eggs. I don't even care if the chicks don't turn out as friendly as brooder raised chicks - its worth it to not have the hassle of a brooder, and to see Mama Hen clucking happily and teaching them the ways of the world.
 

julnjake

Chirping
8 Years
Aug 20, 2011
108
0
89
SW PA
Quote:Then how do/did they survive in the wild? Just a very low reproduction rate? Or is it captive birds that rarely go broody?
 

Gypsy07

Songster
9 Years
Feb 4, 2010
2,286
55
193
Glasgow, Scotland
Quote:These are breeds that didn't ever exist in the wild - most modern chicken breeds are NOTHING like the original wild jungle fowl they are all descended from - and were selectively bred for maximum egg production and minimum broodiness. When birds go broody they stop laying eggs, sometimes for a couple of months, and that's exactly what commercial egg producers don't want. So broodiness has been bred out of the top egg producing breeds and without incubators etc they'd most likely just die out...
 

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