Hatching Chicks.greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
I hope no one worrys about if I'll make it as a Homesteader, but I have to ask the really "stupid" question. Why can't you let the hen hatch and raise a batch of chicks? I seem to remember my Grandmother had a triangular "crate", made for the purpose, that kept the hen on her eggs by trapping her under it. Wish I had paid more attention. Her hens always had the run of the yard during the day (watch where you step when barefoot--hee hee) and the chicks followed her from day one. She took care of them. Why have all the rig-a-ma-roll of heat lamps and boxes in the kitchen and turning eggs and all that other stuff?
-- Susan in Northern LP Michigan (email@example.com), February 14, 2002
because the broody instinct is mostly bred out of modern chickens so they stay laying machines. Hens that set stop laying after they assemble a clutch and begin to set and during the time they are raising their chicks. There are a number of breeds that have more chance to produce broody hens..notably Banties and Silkies...
-- Bee White (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 14, 2002.
I raise my own meat and replacement chickens by letting the chickens sit on the eggs, hatch and raise the chicks. When I want to try a new breed or add new blood to by flock I wait until I have a hen that wants then get eggs from a friends flock. I have Buff orphington's which are a standard breed and have not had the urge to set bred out of them. I always try to keep several of them iin my flock. Two years ago I got rhode island red eggs and that's what they hatched and raised, this past year I got barred rock. this system works well for me. I do have a seperate yard to put the hen and chicks in untill they are big enough to hold their own. I think it is much easier to raise them this way. Whe you are buying your first birds, most of the hatcheries write in their discriptions of the breed if they are setters or non setters. Have fun with your flock. ron
-- ron in ny (email@example.com), February 14, 2002.
Yes,I remember the pyramid-type coop that broody hens were kept in. We had one, too. I have done it both ways, and I really prefer the natural, let-the-hen-do-it way. We will lose the occasional chick who squirts through the fence into the dog yard, or gets into the duck pond and can't find their way out, but it's much easier in the long run to let Mama do it. We also buy day-olds when we want to introduce something new into the flock. I have successfully added New Hampshire chicks to a silky's brood right after they hatched. I locked her and the babies in the tool shed for a couple of days and by the time she came back out into the open, they were all bonded to each other.
-- melina b. (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 14, 2002.
Like another poster already stated the biggest problem is that most of the best egg laying breeds have had all broodiness instincts bred right out of them!
I've kept Plymouth Barred Rocks for years and it's been ten years since the last time I've had one go broody on me. If I'd have known then what I know now I'd have conserved her genes.
If you're keeping only a relative few birds and aren't after the best laying efficiency then letting mama hen do the chick raising will work just fine once you've found one that wants the job. It's a chancy business though and breaks down fast if you need more than a few chicks every year.
Incubating, hatching and brooding eggs artificially has been done for thousands of years now so it's not exactly anything new. I was reading somewhere the other day that it was done as far back as the ancient Egyptians.
-- Alan (email@example.com), February 14, 2002.
Well, Susan, I keep the birds pretty much like your grandma. I don't have the interest or the time for an incubator. I also don't have all the problems that 'bator users have! Every chick the hens have hatched has been healthy.
My flock free ranges on Coastal grass and insects on the acreage during the day and tuck themselves into the pens at dusk to roost. They lay eggs all year around and even hatch eggs in the winter when I allow it. I have eggs coming out the ying yang all year around without adding heat or lights.
The flock wanders in and out of the pens during the day to eat their feed, drink and lay eggs. They're all very good about laying in the nest boxes. I keep them (large, covered cat litter boxes filled with grass hay) on the ground. I wouldn't pen them at night if it weren't for all the night time predators here.
I do pen (not a small cage) the hens who are hatching eggs 'cause I don't let the little ones free range until they're fully feathered. This is due to my crazy birds who like to free range even in the freezing rain. I want the little ones to have the protection of their feathers.
None of my large livestock are penned/stalled. I try to keep things as natural as possible in a domestic situation.
I have kept hatchery chicks in the house in a 10 square foot area. I put up a 100 watt lightbult. The temperature by the light was 88º, but the chicks weren't near it much. They were too busy running around! (So much for having to keep the temperature at 95º the first week and lowering that temperature 5º each week!) I haven't lost a hatchery chick yet.
There's enough broodies here that I just may give them the chicks the next time I order and let the babies grow up outside.
-- ~Rogo (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 14, 2002.