Monday, January 25, 2016

Planning This Year's Chickam Hatch...

...so far no broody mama volunteers.

Instead they're all standing around like they are waiting for a bus.

We're going to do things a little differently this year, we're going for a smaller hatch and instead of using the ReptiPro incubator, we're going to recruit a broody hen to set the eggs, hatch the chicks and raise them!

This will mean secluding mama and eggs in the small run so that she isn't bothered and the eggs aren't harmed by competing hens and nosy, over-excited rooboys.  When hatch day is here we'll move mama and eggs to a brooder box in the house, start the cam and stand back.  We will have the ReptiPro standing by and fired up just in case, though.

Since our hens tend to go broody later in Spring, this will also mean that the Chickam hatch will most likely happen more towards the end of April into May--you can't force broodiness (although you can encourage it by making sure conditions are optimum).  Depending on who goes broody, we'll pick the most reliable hen as mama and use her.  If it's a full-size hen she'll get 12-14 eggs to brood, if it's a bantam 5-6 eggs.  We'll mix & match eggs of various breeds and sizes, and all of the eggs will be from our flock--no mail-order eggs this year.

Mama hens tend to stay clamped down pretty hard on the eggs and chicks, so the actual hatch won't be as exciting as it is with the incubator, but mama raising chicks is so very cute and sweet, and it really is fascinating to watch nature in action the old-fashioned way!

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