a week ago i put my 6 hens in a pen with a rooster, and now have collected 13 eggs. i borrowed an incubator but in 18 hours i still haven't got the incubator to a steady 99-100 degrees; it's ranging from 104 to 108. i'm almost tired of fighting the incubator (i haven't put the eggs in it yet) and also have recently read that hen-reared chicks out-perform artificially incubated eggs. the temps here (il) are anywhere from 20 F to 40 F this time of year, although it can get much colder some nights, and even some days. is there a certain number of eggs i could place in the hens' nesting box to trigger one to go broody? in fair weather i would just experiment, but i don't want to run the risk of the eggs freezing if no hens took to the nest. ideas, suggestions? my hens are barred rocks, black australorps, and silver laced wyandottes.
It would be a lot of work to deal with eggs and chicks during the cold season as Matu said. If you have a rooster and some hens, you'll have a steady supply of fertile eggs at the more appropriate time of year. Who knows, you may even have a hen go broody and do all the work herself. That's what mine do. SOOOOOOO much easier.