Friday, 4 March 2016

How To Naturally Hatch Chicks

Last spring, here at Flyte so Fancy HQ, we quite purposefully went out of our way to hatch more of the bosses favourite, Gold Laced Hamburgs. Usually we let the poultry paddock sort itself out and we end up with all manner of gorgeous Heinz 57 chicks and chickens. We achieved our aim of hatching more Hamburg chicks by using broody hens in our field.

Flyte so Fancy Chicken Blog
A Broody Hen
Each year we have several hens that go broody and settle down on a clutch of eggs, so we use them to our advantage. Some birds are more prone to going broody than others, Orpington's can be broody all summer long, and natural hatching under a hen really is ideal.

To begin with you shall need a Broody Coop or box lined with Hempbed-E or chopped bedding. Hens will be quite happy sitting on their nests, but make sure that you do not completely remove her from the rest of the flock, they should still be able to see each other. If you're putting your hen in a box make sure that it at least 40cm square. Don't be tempted to sit two hens next to each other, they will just try to steal each others eggs, ruining both nests.

Never put the eggs you want to hatch under the broody hen straight away. Put a few extra unimportant eggs under her to begin with to make sure that she has gone completely broody and not just going through a phase. Once you are sure that she is sitting tight, put the eggs you wish to incubate underneath her, removing the others. Doing this at night is usually better, when she is asleep.

Rearing and Incubating chicks the natural way
Chicks and Mother Hen in a Broody Coop
The broody hen should be taken off her nest each day to allow her to eat, drink and poop. Do this as part of a routine at the same time each day to avoid stressing your broody hen. Eggs take twenty-ones day to incubate and in the final three days you should try not to disturb your hen. Move feed and water to within her reach (but out of reach of the chicks) and let her be.

As tempting as it is to take a peek, leave your hen and chicks alone during the actual hatching. Disturbing them will just stress them out, the mother in particular. When the hatching is finished remove the empty shells and any unhatched eggs. The chicks will require water, a shallow dish with pebbles into prevent drowning is best, and chick crumbs in a feeder.

If you have any questions about the naturally hatching chicks leave a comment below or phone us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the Flyte so Fancy team. Equally have a look at our information page A Basic Guide to Incubation and Chick Rearing for more information on hatching chicks and rearing them.

Thanks for Reading

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