It’s the end of June and seems like we have had no summer so far, A few nice days and the rest was what we have had for months, seriously glumly. It does get you down a bit, as there is so many jobs need doing and the weather is holding them up.
My beloved is away this week looking after our new granddaughter Beth. Her mum is a bit overwhelmed by the birth and didn’t have a very easy time. Which brings me back to hatching eggs under broodies, nice link don’t you think.
I have 12 birds sitting at the moment and another 6 running around with broods. Over the last few years I have gone back to using natural incubation instead of using an incubator. I have 3 all Brinsea and have not bothered to unpack them for the 3rd year running. It was the cost and amount of time it took to deal with the chicks. Constantly cleaning out and dealing with the usual rearing problems you get when running chicks under lamps and in indoor runs. Using natural brooding is easy, a hen starts to sit, I leave her till she is tight, which usually takes 2-3 days. If you take her off and she goes mental around the place and heads back to the nest, that night I move her into a broody coop.
If she has sat on eggs laid by her pen mates you run the risk of a staggered hatch, as eggs will have been started and newer eggs will have been laid on top. So start her off with a fresh batch that are hopefully viable.
Using eggs that were under her poses a number of problems.
When the first chick hatches it may be 36 hours before the next one gets out (depending on how many are in the run) and when it start getting hungry and needs a drink it will come out of the nest box and when it gets chilled the hen will be forced off the eggs by it’s cheeping to brood it, the eggs chill at a critical stage and you lose them. You may end up with a single chick, which is really frustrating and guess who’s fault it is.
Raised under a hen gives the chicks a very good grounding in the early stages of it’s life. She will teach them what’s good and what’s not. A good mother is worth her weight in gold and well worth marking with a leg ring. I use a leg ring colour system. Red for a dirty nester, any broody that fouls the nest doesn’t get to do it again. If she goes broody I encourage her not to sit by giving her something to take her mind off , This can take the form of free- range, out and about with the eating egg flock. Failing that a coop on her own without any eggs. I put her on plain wheat and water and access to greens/grass. If she still persists she goes in with a cockerel. A blue ring for a hen that comes off early and having checked for lice and red mite disturbance, if she doesn’t stay the distance she doesn’t get another chance. A yellow ring for a good sitter and a good mother. Hens like these are worth looking after.
The times I see that the hen needs cooling down written in forum posts and it’s suggested that she be punished by putting in a wire bottom coop or even worse dunked in a bucket of cold water always makes me annoyed at the poster. Some people need evening classes to apply for the village idiots job.
A normal healthy hen that is active runs a temperature of about 107f a broody is about 2 degrees lower at about 105f. I didn’t come up with this little gem it is written in the rule book of poultry keeping. This book isn’t one of the newer ones with nice photos that have popped up over the last few years and bugger all relevant information about chicken between the covers, but written by authors such as Morley A Jull.Lippencote and Card
There are hundreds of books on the web readable (just) in pdf format such as this one.
http://archive.org/stream/wrightsbookofpo00wrig#page/n7/mode/2up (You need to copy and paste I’m afraid)