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How many chicks do you hatch naturally?  RSS feed

 
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Greetings!
We have a smallish layer flock (100 hens) with mixed heritage, hybrid and crossbred birds that we rotationally graze with an eggmobile.
I just love hatching chicks under broody hens and watching them grow.  It's totally complicated, I have many small houses that I move around to keep the moms happy.  I don't let them try to incubate the eggs when they are with the rest of the flock because that usually goes poorly.  We raise them in a series of yards until they can join the main flock.  I generally buy one batch of chicks in the spring from a hatchery and transplant them under broodies, but the rest of the year I try to set our own fertile eggs.
This year is going awesome, I've hatched 50 chicks in addition to the 25 I bought from Cackle.  We have lost some, as often happens, but we haven't used any electric heat!  We are off grid and don't really have the juice for that, so we have a lot of incentive to make it work without a heat lamp.
It takes a bit of work and management, so it has me wondering: how many chicks/clutches do folks raise under natural mothers?  Who is totally rocking it and raising all their replacements without artificial brooding?  How many small houses does that take, or what is the system?!
Cheers,
Mae

 
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With turkeys i used an incubator and collected 25 eggs and got 1 to hatch. I collected them over several weeks from 2 females, putting them in as i got them. Pretty disappointing .

So i quit collecting them to see what they could do on their own. It was probably another 25 eggs and i got 5 hatched.

My problem may have been only 2 female layers. It took a long time before they got enough to lay on them. Not sure. Once the 5 hatched, the second turkey quit laying on her eggs. Its like they each took a couple of babies and left the other eggs.  We do it for personal consumption so we hatched an adequate amount for our needs.
 
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Not even attempting that.  Contemplating keeping the roos from the pullets we ordered from Cackle until spring and letting them fertilize the eggs.  The incubate and brood ourselves rather than leaving the hens to do so.  But not sure we want to go there just yet.
 
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I'm not an expert by any means but we supported a hen as she hatched a clutch of eggs this spring.  We had 10 hens and 2 roosters.  We put 10 eggs under a broody hen and 21 days later 8 hatched.  She reared them and now they're free-ranging on their own.  It's funny, the year old birds hang out together and the chicks stay in their own flock closer to the coop.

Compared to buying chicks, I'll do this any day.  No messing with a heat lamp, teaching them to drink, worrying about the temperature, worrying about this and that.  She just took care of all of it.

We just have one coop so we put her and the eggs in a dog crate in the coop with her own food and water.  Once they hatched we keep them in there for a week to get the other birds used to them.  Then we released them.  First thing she did was kick a couple other hen's asses.  Apparently they were spreading gossip or something.  Then she clucked at the chicks and taught them what to scratch and peck at.  

I have two nipple water buckets, one at chick height.  I put the chick food in a box with a chick sized hole in it so the hens can't gobble it down.  I raised the hen food high enough that the chicks couldn't reach.  They're a month old and already roosting up high with the older birds.
 
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The last clutch we had under a broody was eaten by 2 snakes that got into the house at the same time.
We just wait for a hen to go broody and the black copper marans tend to sit on 6 to 8 eggs.
This was the first time this hen went broody so we expect that if she does it again she will be better at it, and I made some adjustments to the house door to slow any new snake down.

We run a closed flock so the only way to get new birds is through hatching them and we don't incubate.
 
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wayne fajkus wrote:With turkeys i used an incubator and collected 25 eggs and got 1 to hatch. I collected them over several weeks from 2 females, putting them in as i got them. Pretty disappointing .

So i quit collecting them to see what they could do on their own. It was probably another 25 eggs and i got 5 hatched.

My problem may have been only 2 female layers. It took a long time before they got enough to lay on them. Not sure. Once the 5 hatched, the second turkey quit laying on her eggs. Its like they each took a couple of babies and left the other eggs.  We do it for personal consumption so we hatched an adequate amount for our needs.



We have had a wretched time trying to let our Narragansett's hatch out some poults. From an angry turkey mother killing babies, to randomly dead poults, to majority of eggs not hatching out due to bacteria, infertile or in one nests case some crushed eggs..... it was very disheartening to say the least.  
 
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