Would like to try my first hatching! Need some simple questions answered

BChippieMama

In the Brooder
May 13, 2015
33
0
22
Hello! This is our first year with our chickens and we are absolutely loving them. We have a small flock of ten with 1 rooster and 9 hens but have a lot more space and we would like to hatch some chicks! My questions are...

- our rooster is only 3.5 months old, when will he be able to breed? (He is an Easter egger if that helps?)
- I have identified two broody hens in our flock, do they have to incubate their own eggs? Could I make them incubate a different hens eggs?
- do home made incubators actually work?
Is it okay to hatch chicks in the fall if we have heat lamps to help through winter?
 

Hmarie

Hatching
May 14, 2015
6
0
7
omg I just hatched one out of 3 chicks in my homemade styrofoam cooler (incubator) with a 25 watt bulb, cup of water, and a hygrometer/thermometer! this was my first time. its really not that difficult as I thought. The eggs even survived a almost 6 hr power outage and still hatched just 5 days late.
400
400[/IMG]
 

WalnutHill

Crowing
5 Years
Mar 16, 2014
7,000
2,268
346
SE Michigan
Hello! This is our first year with our chickens and we are absolutely loving them. We have a small flock of ten with 1 rooster and 9 hens but have a lot more space and we would like to hatch some chicks! My questions are...

- our rooster is only 3.5 months old, when will he be able to breed? (He is an Easter egger if that helps?)
- I have identified two broody hens in our flock, do they have to incubate their own eggs? Could I make them incubate a different hens eggs?
- do home made incubators actually work?
Is it okay to hatch chicks in the fall if we have heat lamps to help through winter?
Three and a half months is a pretty young rooster, but if he is servicing the hens then all should be fine.

If a hen is truly broody, she will incubate a golf ball. Her hormones override her brain. Broody chickens are often used to hatch ducks and turkeys, so another hen's eggs would be no problem as long as she can cover them all.

Yes, homemade incubators CAN work. There are hundreds of threads on this site to help design one if you are so inclined. I built a homemade 200 egg cabinet incubator and it does a great job up to lockdown. I need to remodel it for better hatching, though.

You don't say where you are located, but if you are in a very cold climate and you hatch only a small number of chicks in the fall (less than two dozen) you should be able to build a heated indoor brooder to keep them warm until they feather out completely at 3-4 weeks. At that point, with a nice sheltered brooder in the barn and a heat source until they reach 8 weeks gradually providing less heat, they should be fine.
 
Last edited:

Drewnkat

Songster
11 Years
Mar 27, 2008
176
41
191
Georgia
How old are the hens? Are they laying small immature "pullet eggs" or have they reached maturity, laying full-size eggs?

The rooster's age is less of a concern than the hens. If he is successfully mounting the hens, and you are seeing fertile eggs when you open eggs from your flock, he's doing just fine. In fact, some sources I read claimed younger roosters in the first year or two of life are at prime fertility.

A broody hen will set on any eggs in her clutch, whether she laid them or not. I have seen broody hens move eggs -and even DUMMY eggs- from the neighboring nest box in order to sit on them. Sadly, my hens haven't gone broody, but my neighbors' chickens frequently do. They don't have a rooster, so broodiness is an exercise in futility, but try telling the hens that!

There are loads of people with home made incubators. There are loads of tutorials and build diagrams for making your own. As long as you have:
a consistent heat source capable of maintaining the temperature at 99-101 degrees
a regulator or thermostat switch of some sort to adjust the temperature
air holes to allow the chicks to be able to breathe once they hatch
a way to raise the humidity after day 18 (even if it's just a cup with water and a kitchen sponge)
a small fan to circulate air (this is actually optional, however, many incubation addicts report that a circulated air setup yields much higher success rates).

There are different schools of thought on incubating vs. broody hens.
If you have broody hens hatch out babies, they tend to have high success rates, and if a hen is a good momma, the chicks will be fine.
Some hens are good at incubating, but have no interest in raising chicks, so you have to watch closely how your hens do with all steps of raising babies!
If you incubate eggs, you can get the chicks to "imprint" on humans, and they will be used to human contact. Ones hatched under a hen may be a bit less inclined to socialize with humans.
Chicks hatched out in an incubator can also be placed under a broody hen to raise, so it's not necessarily all-or-nothing.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom