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How long to wait before setting broody on a new clutch?

Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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Hey Permies,

When I can't help myself by finding the information I need, I come to the mecca of permologist's...

Two days ago my broody White Rock hatched six chicks out of ten eggs. This was great news on many fronts, two of them being "no-work free chicks," and "a loud and aggressive rooster in the pot."

In hind site: I needed to hatch at least 10 birds to keep my flock of 8 reproducing sustainably (approx. thinking of roosters), I have 6. My other hens will lay fertile eggs for two weeks now, but that would be way to soon to set the broody girl on another clutch right? Best case, 2 weeks of fertility, then a week of storage before setting her down on the eggs.

So has anyone been working in this area? I would guess a hen could hatch at least two clutches a year...? So how long before I separate her from her chicks, then set her down to work again while still allowing for plenty of rest?

Thanks in advance folks,
Posts: 1390
Location: Northwest Montana from Zone 3a to 4b (multiple properties)
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I'm interested in an answer to this as well. Has it been posted in another thread?

ETA: I added the flags to get some attention.
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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I must assess I don't mimic Paul's version of Permaculture close enough, you know, Paula-culture. Gosh, those evil chicken tractor tools, once in a life (if their naughty) wing clippings, and dirty permanent fences! Laughing... (Not critical of other members or passive now.)

Here is what first hand experience has told me since my initial post:

I cleared the nest a week after the chicks were born allowing mom to eat as much of the remaining shells as she desired. Then I put a dozen fertile eggs back in the nest hoping mom would spend enough time on the nest to hatch them. This was silly, but it is what you do when no one will answer your questions. It was silly because her instinct was to teach the chicks about scratching, eating, drinking, and fight or flight if you will. After about four days, the chicks were following mom all over the paddocks for most of the day, thus no temperature regulation happened on the fertile eggs.

Obvious to me now, none hatched. I removed the eggs and examined them finding zero development at all.

The chicks are now a week or so short of two months old, healthy as can be, and fully feathered. About a week ago, mom started acting anxious, and I noticed the chicks avoiding her. I allowed mom to go back to the original flock as it seemed she wanted at that time, but she was viciously attacked in front of me and quickly went back to the chicks. Keep in mind that nothing but a fence separates the two flocks, but they won't accept her now. It is almost like jealousy. Fours days ago a hen from the original flock got into the brooding paddocks, I let it continue to observe the situation; and within moments with a crazy look in her eye, she started chasing the chicks. Mom stayed clear of the situation entirely, seemingly scarred.

That is where I am at now (separated flocks), and this is my plan:

I will continue to try and introduce mom back to the old flock, but either way, I just have to keep the peace until fall at which time the original flock will be culled, including mom. (This after fattening up in the 1/6 acre end-season human gardens) I will then find someones cast away cockerel of this white rock variety to bring in new genetics next spring and hope for a new broody hen; which is a trait I will continually breed into their genetics..

Depending on how deep, or purist one wants to be with producing there own chicks naturally;;; I also have the idea to keep two different flocks going at all times so I don't need to find new genetics. In my small paddock system consisting of seven paddocks measuring 16x32 on 1/10 acre or so, I would want two 3-4 bird flocks as to not stress the land. All the same species, none of this petting zoo from the farm store crap. A sustainable population of true gold layers.

Finally, I asses that it will take months for a hen to go broody again, and maybe even a yearly spring then? Thus a double setting seems unlikely in a season.

One might say, "get an incubator," to which I would say, "*************, no thanks, technology is great, where it is truly needed. Any hen should be genetically able to rear young, or not have a place on this planet any more than GMO."

Some would say, "why cull your rooster so soon," to which I would say, "I was being respectful of my neighbors giving them a quiet season, and eliminating a very aggressive rooster that drew blood several times; and ************* because "I" unlike many am not a pre-expert on anything I have not experienced. It was total hind site issue considering not enough of the eggs hatched to provide what I feel is a good number for my personal square footage.

Tonnes of details are left out, so, assumptions won't progress the knowledge we as humans have a responsibility to compound upon; questions however, are a spectrum of color in the light of this world.

Best of luck to all those sincere in people care...

On a personal note, I hope this furthers your goals Bill, have a good one.
Mother Tree
Posts: 11657
Location: Portugal
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I think maybe the reason you didn't get any replies was a bit of confusion in the title.

If a hen is broody, you can set her on eggs, but she won't sit on them unless she is broody. It isn't really about how long you wait, it's about when they decide to go broody.

In my experience, the length of time between raising broods varies greatly between individuals. I have one hen who is raising her second batch this year, and others who have just gone broody for the first time. I've also had some that only went broody once in a lifetime. Like you, I don't like incubators, so I've been trying to breed the broodiness back in by selecting hard and culling birds that never brood.
Posts: 3054
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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When looking at chicken breeds they are described as broody or not broody. We've always bought the less broody as we don't keep roosters currently.
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