It’s springtime – the best time of year for raising chicks! So, it’s a good time to collect eggs for incubation and hatch the baby chicks yourself (or give them to a broody hen to hatch). High hatch rates and healthy chicks start with proper egg collection and storage.
Collecting the Eggs
Chicken egg incubation temperature and humidity are ideal for the growth of bacteria; so it’s essential that eggs collected for hatching are clean. However, hatching eggs ideally should not be washed, as this removes the protective egg bloom (see Egg Bloom). The egg bloom protects the egg from both bacteria and moisture loss. [...]
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The Buckeye chicks that our broody hen hatched are now 10 days old, and three of the chicks have survived. It’s fascinating to watch mother hen raise the chicks – I thought raising day-old chicks was great (see Raising Day-Old Chicks), but watching how she handles it is even better.
The chicks hatched in the broody box in the coop (see Building a Broody Box), but we then moved them into the Eglu coop set-up within the chicken pasture. We weren’t sure how much protection the little peeps would need from the larger chickens; so we separated them into their own coop and small run [...]
Continue reading Broodies Buckeye Chicks – 10 Days Old
The eggs under our broody Buckeye hen (see Building A Broody Box) were due to hatch starting yesterday (Tuesday) when it would have been 20 days since we set eggs under her; so we were shocked on Saturday when this showed up: Naturally, we then expected more eggs would be hatching shortly - but nothing on Sunday, or Monday, or even Tuesday. We almost gave up. Then today, another chick finally showed up (it’s under her left shoulder):And, a little while later, it looks like there are two more under there:
We’re waiting on the final count, but it appears that [...]
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Broody Buckeye Hen – Sitting For 10 Days & Counting
As of yesterday, our broody Buckeye hen has diligently been sitting on 15 eggs - for 10 days. She gets out of her nest box only to eat, drink, and relieve herself; and has only once signalled a desire to leave the broody box (see Building A Broody Box). We let her out and she took a quick dust bath in the pasture; and then climbed right back into the broody box and back onto the nest. So far, she’s exhibiting all the behaviors of an excellent mother hen, and we couldn’t be [...]
Continue reading Candling Broodies Eggs
I’m so excited – one of the Buckeyes has gone broody!!! Raising the Buckeyes was a great experience (see Raising Day-Old Chicks), but I was hoping the Buckeyes would retain their instinct to go broody, and raise their own young – I’d rather they perpetuate the flock (why should I do the work if they’ll do it naturally?). So, when one hen showed definite signs of broodiness; Randy quickly constructed her a broody box inside the coop.
How To Tell If She’s Broody
In many chicken breeds today, the instinct for raising young has been bred out; because “broodiness” was considered undesirable in factory laying hens. However, some of the [...]
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Well, a hen’s reproductive system consists of an ovary and an oviduct. The ovary contains undeveloped egg yolks (the number of yolks (or ovum) that are contained here are the total number of eggs the chicken will lay in her life) that are released into the oviduct as each yolk develops, usually about an hour after the previous egg was laid. However, in young pullets and some heavy breed hens, two yolks are sometimes released within a couple of hours, and these become double-yolked eggs.
Heredity can cause some hens or breeds to have a higher propensity for double yolks; but [...]
Continue reading What Causes Double Yolks?
Free Ranging Pullets
Since we just went through the ordeal of culling our flock (see Painful Chicken Lesson), and then choosing another chicken breed to raise (see Buckeyes), I have a few suggestions for anyone thinking of getting a few chickens for the backyard.
What to Start With
You can start with eggs, day-old chicks, or pullets. Hatcheries offer eggs and day-old chicks from many breeds, but pullets are usually only available in the egg layer breeds (leghorns, black sex-linked, golden buff, etc.). Breeders often offer eggs, day old chicks, and pullets (but may be limited on quantities or times).
Basically, chickens are bred for egg-laying, [...]
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Wrinkled Egg – IB Symptom
Back when I wrote about introducing new chickens into a flock (see Introducing New Chickens), I missed one important step, and we’re learning a painful lesson as a result. It wasn’t enough to ask if the new chickens were vaccinated, we should have kept them separate from our flock for 30 days to make sure they couldn’t introduce disease.
Infectious Bronchitis (IB)
As it turns out, Bab and Will brought Infectious Bronchitis into our flock, and it’s destroyed the Golden Buffs ability to produce eggs (it does not affect humans). Infectious bronchitis is a virus, it’s the [...]
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I discovered rather suddenly that it’s sometimes necessary to trim a chicken’s wings so they can’t fly. We’d had Golden Buff hens for awhile when I decided to introduce a Barred Rock rooster, and because the hens never flew out of their pen, I was shocked when the rooster flew out (why a rooster would fly away from hens is explained in Introducing New Chickens). I had to clip his feathers to keep him in, and found out it’s a harmless and simple procedure.
Why (Not) to Clip Feathers
I think it’s best to leave the chicken’s wings alone unless there’s a [...]
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Helping a hen recover from a prolapsed vent is often not as difficult as it may first appear – it often just takes some time and a little attention. We’ve had several hens develop the problem and have always dealt with it the same as with our first:
One night, when I got home from work and opened the hen-house door, everyone popped out with their usual enthusiasm – except Gold Dust. She stayed huddled in a pile in the pen, and upon closer investigation, it was clear she had a problem. Egg was stuck all over her tail feathers, and a mass [...]
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I’ve always fed the hens grape treats, and as a result, they’re quite friendly (they’ll crawl in my lap if I let them). But, when Will joined the flock, he made it apparent he had no use for grapes, and didn’t appreciate me feeding the hens either.
The hens were still enthusiastic about grapes, but Will would try to call them away, and when that didn’t work, he’d growl at me! Now, he’s generally a nice rooster, so I was puzzled. It finally dawned on me that Will knows he’s head rooster, and didn’t appreciate the competition for his hens.
After this [...]
Continue reading Rooster Psychology 101
Randy did a terrific job building a new nesting box for the hens, and Spice had to check it out.
New Nesting Box and Spice
We put it in the corner of the chicken’s pen and added golf balls to give them the right idea.
Installed Nest Box with Golf Balls
The Golden Buff hens got the message right away, they love the new nesting box.
Ginger Checking It Out
Will, Gold Dust, Ginger, Eggnog, and Babs posing in front of the nesting box.
Plymouth Barred Rock hen and rooster
The new Barred Rock chickens went out into the snow for the first time today. Here’s the story on the hens arrival: