Jul 022010
 

So, you have a hen that has gone broody and you decide that you want to raise a few chicks.  I have done this countless times and I finally have a method to the madness of chick raising.

After I put a few fake eggs under the broody hen to keep her happy, I then decide which hens that I want chicks from.  Some of my hens are friendlier or prettier than others and I usually pick these hens.  I will gather up the hens that I want eggs from and confine them to a different chicken house and run for a few days.

I collect the eggs every day and I don’t use any of them that don’t look perfect.  Any eggs that are an odd size or just don’t look right are not good candidates to put under your hen.  I put the date that each egg was laid right on the egg.  I collect 10 – 20 eggs depending on how many chicks I want and when I have as many as I need, I put them under the broody hen.  I also release the other hens and keep all of them away from my broody hen so they don’t keep chasing her off the nest to lay more eggs.

I then feed and water my broody hen every day because sometimes they won’t leave the nest at all and they can starve to death.  I keep a close eye on her and the eggs and I usually don’t candle them until they are around two weeks old.  I remove any eggs that aren’t fertile and place the rest of them back under the broody hen.

All that is left to do is to count down to hatching day and watch for the chicks to begin to hatch.  I always monitor them and make sure that none of them have any problems.  Sometimes one or two will hatch late after mom has left the nest. 

I will take them inside to incubate them.  Once they hatch, I grab one of the hen’s chicks and when it starts to scream for her and she gets upset, I slip both the new chick and the old chick back in.  Chances are good that she won’t even notice that she has an extra chick or two.



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Jun 272010
 

I was so excited.  One of my bard rock hens went broody and started collecting a clutch of eggs to sit on.  Everything was going great.  I made sure that she ate and drank every day and she was being a good broody hen. 

On Friday night I candled all 8 eggs and all of them had little baby chicks floating around inside the eggs.  It was so great!  I locked her up tight in her separate little hen house and went to bed happy.

I got up the next morning and walked out to let the hens and roosters out and to check on my broody hen.  To my horror, I found her dead outside her little chicken coop.  Somehow something had managed to pull a board lose and then finished getting in my chewing a hole in the wood chicken coop.  The hole was just large enough for whatever killed her to drag her out of the hen house.  Whatever had killed her hadn’t been able to drag her body off though.

I checked the eggs and they were still there but they were cold.  The eggs were 13 days old by this time and I was sick that they would probably die.  By biggest problem was that I only had a 3 egg incubator so I jumped in my car and drove to Tractor Supply to get a larger incubator.  Luckily they had one in stock so I bought it and got home as fast as I could.

I put all 8 eggs in the incubator right away even though it said to let the temperature stabilize for several hours.  I figured at this point, what could it hurt.  So I sat there literally for almost four hours until I was sure the temperature in the incubator had stabilized.

I figured that I had done all I could do for the moment.  I waited twenty four hours and I candled the eggs again to see if I had any chicks left alive.  At that point I noticed that one of the eggs was actually chipped.  I didn’t hold out much hope for any of them still being alive but to my amazement, they were all still alive!

Now the wait was on to see if all of the baby chicks survived and hatched out ok.


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