"I have a broody hen, let's incubate some eggs"

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Casey76

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"I have a broody hen, let's incubate some eggs"
« on: May 07, 2010, 09:16 »
OK, I'm going to have a bit of a rant here...

It's spring and our hens are going broody left right and centre.  Over the past year there seems to hve been a shift from "how do I stop my hen from being broody" to "ooh, I have a broody hen, let's incubate some eggs"

How much thought goes in to this?  Do people actually realise how much planning is actually needed?

First of all you have to separate your broody from your other hens... this means another coop with a small run - do you really have space in your garden for another coop and run?  You know, you not only have to separate your broody for the time she is sitting, but also until the chicks are 5 to 6 weeks old because your remaining hens may attack the chicks while they are small.

Secondly, where do you get your eggs from?  Do you get them from a friend of a friend who keeps a cockbird of uncertain parentage with a flock of hens from uncertain parentage, from someone who runs a cockbird of one breed with a flock of mixed pure breed hens, or do you get them from a breeder who is passionate about improving the breed?  Personally I would go with the second or third choice ;)  Pure breed eggs do not have to be expensive unless you are specifically looking for eggs from "exhibition" stock.  E.g. I paid 1.50 euros for 6 Australorp eggs, and 2euros for 6 Sabelpoot eggs (which are all fertile and growing :D)

Thirdly, how many eggs do you let your hen sit on?  OK, so I think you have to allow a little for attrition (not fertile, squashed etc) but if, on the off chance, they all hatch, do you have space in your garden for an extra 12 chooks... this leads on to

Fourthly, we all know there is nothing cuter than a day old chick, however they grow up quickly and before you know it they are all crowing. 

Theoretically eggs hatch 50% pullets and 50% cockerals... if you hatch enough.  If you are only hatching a few eggs, you may have the unfortunate happenstance of them ALL being cockerals, though in general you would probably end up with a couple of pullets.

So, if you are lucky and you hatch out 6 girls, do you have the room in your garden for another 6 hens?  Is your coop big enough to accomodate another 6 hens? or will you need to buy another one?  Can you afford another 6 hens (with regard to feed and vet bills).

If you are unlucky and hatch one boy what do you do then?  Many places do not allow you to keep cockerals due to the noise factor, and those councils that do, you still have to contend with neighbours.  OK, so it may not be too difficult to rehome one boy, but what if...

You hatch 6 boys?  Would you run them on for meat? Would you do the culling, plucking and drawing yourself, or could you enlist the help of a friend/butcher/farmer?

Would you try to rehome them all?  Here we go back to the "what kind of eggs do I get" because it is far easier to rehome a purebreed than a cross, and easier to rehome a cross than a heinz57.

So, have you really thought it out past the cute little chick stage? Really?

Here endeth my rant.

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Chookiechook

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Re: "I have a broody hen, let's incubate some eggs"
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2010, 09:26 »
I do think that although in some respects you are correct..... we are mostly all sensible adults and can think past just the fluffy chick stage :(

Not everyone has the room.... but it doesnt mean that they should forfiet the experience.

At the end of the day, if you end up with more than you bargained for, especially cock birds, you have to deal with it!!  Sad for the birds maybe...... but that is life :(

There are just as many people in this world who cant afford to have/shouldnt have children... but it is seen as your human right to be able to have a baby..... there are far more long term implications to this decision than there are to brooding some chicks.
I love Pekins, Polands and Seramas :) and eggs!!!

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joyfull

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Re: "I have a broody hen, let's incubate some eggs"
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2010, 09:55 »
All I would say is :-
that you make sure you read up before embarking on this venture,
decide what you will do with the resulting cockerels (and there will be some),
make sure you or somebody else are able to cull a sick chick,
make sure you have everything you need before hand - broody coup, feed and feeders/drinkers, medicines, room for the grown up birds, source eggs from reputable breeders.
This year I have hatched 11 chicks with broodies and have 6 more at Grannie Annies (2 of which the broody got off and left so luckily I had Grannies incubator as a back up - do you have this facility?). That is my lot for the year (and not all of those will stay here with me some will be given away) even though I have the room for more but when my older girls stop laying I still wish to keep them in the lifestyle they are used to - i.e. what I consider to be quality feed, vetenary care and lots of space with grass and shrubs  :lol:
Staffies are softer than you think.

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francais

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Re: "I have a broody hen, let's incubate some eggs"
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2010, 22:06 »
I suppose I fall into this category. I only started keeping hens last year, and Liz was my first hen to go broody. I went out and brought 6 eggs off fleabay and shoved em under without a great deal of thought TBH. Most of the problems you mentioned, I have run into in the last 4 weeks.

I (or should I say DH) built a whole new pen, I purchased a new house, moved the other girls so Liz could have the smaller coop with built in run to herself, brought new feed bowls etc

I expected 1 or 2 of the eggs to hatch - 5 did !!! I also have two chicks in a hastily constructed brooder in the front room &  I have booked the a chook sitter (MIL) for while I am away.

Daft? Probably!  And what will I do with the boys ? (yes again I am one of those people who cant have cockerels) - Personally I thought chicken chasseur or a nice curry!!

Yeah - It may have been reckless and I may have spent a bit of dosh, but so what?!?  Its a learning curve - No animals were hurt in this experiment (unless you count the one that goes into the chasseur! But hey he will have had a better life than your average shop brought one - I can guarantee that!).

I love my chickens and enjoy them and this was just another part of that for me. And yes I would do it all over again.

TBH even if I had known ALL of this before I would still have done it.

I agree that knowledge is power and going in prepared is better, but sometimes only on the job training actually works :)
Toni

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Chookiechook

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Re: "I have a broody hen, let's incubate some eggs"
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2010, 22:26 »
My point exactly :)

why should we not have the fun, excitement, heartbreak and anguish ::)  if its what we choose to do.

The worst that can happen to the cocks is that they go in a pot..... but as francis says, they will probably have a nice life up to that point :)

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TeaPots

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Re: "I have a broody hen, let's incubate some eggs"
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2010, 00:49 »
It might actually be good for peeps to learn how it CAN be really hard, heartbreaking, expensive to hatch, alongside all the pleasure we get. The emotional roller-coaster many of us are becoming all too familiar with.

I really do advise that if you want to have a go, try with pure breeds, not just a mix-up of what is about. You have a far greater chance of selling on extra chicks, both hens and cockerels if they are pure breeds. 'Ifits' may end up being extremely poor layers, could be quite sickly(though the reverse is USUALLY true of 1st crosses) and almost worthless to sell on. If you are gonna do it, get some GOOD eggs, (they are often available on here as swapsies...only reimbursement of postage can be paid, no charges to BUY/sell on here eh Joy?

Do I get my pay rise now Joy?


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joyfull

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Re: "I have a broody hen, let's incubate some eggs"
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2010, 09:55 »
you can have a blue egg for that teapots  :lol:
however if people want to buy/sell then there is the classifieds ads - the link for which can be found above  :)



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