Hatching baby chicks, naturally.
No incubator needed.
Hatching Baby Chicks is a lot of fun and excitement for the kids, and adults too.
How do you know when you have a broody girl:
She will not leave the nest, when she sits in the nesting box she is in a flattened out posture, she steals eggs pushes them under her and will squawk and peck at you for trying to lift her. No worries, she can’t really hurt you even though she tries, unless she gets you just right to draw blood when she pecks at you. Don’t worry about that drawing blood thing, it’s unlikely, wear gloves if you are worried.
Taking care of Broody Hens:
When you have a broody hen you will want to separate her from the others.
OK, now that you know you have a broody girl you are probably noticing that when you go out to collect eggs there are fewer than before, most likely she is rolling the eggs from another box to her own because you see, you have been collecting hers everyday while she has been trying gather her clutch. Now is the time to let the sweet girl be a kleptomaniac and give her 8 – 15 eggs.
You can also collect eggs for her and hold them in a cool dark room and give them back to her when you have gathered as many as you want.
When the incubation time is ready (the eggs have been collected) You need to move her to a quiet and comfortable place away from the others. The other girls have a way of getting jealous over the momma to be. The others will wait for her to leave the nest the one time a day that she does and try to go in and attack the eggs.
A large dog crate is a great place for a broody hen sitting on her eggs. We put it right on the back porch so we can keep a good watch on her. fill is with some nice clean pine shavings, we hang food and water feeders on the door, and in the back of the crate we put a cardboard box that has a bottom just a little smaller than the crate, and we cut it down so it’s just about 2″ – 3″ high and put shavings in it too.
Now lil’ momma has a nice quiet, shady place. We do lock her in when we aren’t out there watching her. That isn’t so much to keep her in but any other critters out. We open it in the morning and let her run out in the yard if she wants to, but most often she isn’t leaving that crate. She has enough room in there to get off her nest to poop which she only does once a day, and it’s easy enough to scoop it out to keep the crate clean for her. She only touches the food and water the once a day that she is off the nest. We like to give her the option to leave the crate though and once in a while after she’s been in there for over 2 weeks she will venture out for just a few minutes. She doesn’t get too far from the crate and keeps a watch on it all the time.
If you are using a dog crate, which we have found to be a wonderful little hatching house make sure to use a large one. Hang the food and water on the wire door so that it doesn’t get spilled. Use chick starter feed for her because she doesn’t need the extra calcium in the layer feed, and you will also need the chick starter feed for the chicks.
Mark your calendar for 21 days, it could be longer because she may not have been finished collecting her clutch so it may take her a day or two to realize that she has all the eggs she going to have for this clutch. The 21 days doesn’t start until she is sitting all but a few minutes a day on the eggs. Usually by the time you have discovered she’s broody and she has collected eggs and you get her moved to her quiet place you can be pretty close to the 21 days.
On the 21st day be ready for the excitement, amazement, and the thrill as you watch your little momma’s baby chicks arrive.
Another advantage to using a dog crate is that you can take the top off and let the kids watch. Lil Momma does not mind, just don’t try to handle her. When you see the newly hatched chicks if they still look wet, dont’ touch them. Let their momma take care of them. After they begin to fluff out in an hour or so you can handle them. Don’t over indulge the kiddos by letting them handle the chicks too much and make sure hands are washed before and after handling the chicks.
What to feed the chicks: Use a started feed, which momma already has because she didn’t need the extra calcium while sitting on the eggs. The chicks may not eat for 2 or 3 days so don’t worry, Momma knows exactly what to do. It is totally amazing to watch as lil momma takes a little food out of the feeder and puts in before the chicks and shows them what to do. It is exciting to watch the chicks at about a week old climb on momma’s back and start to play around in the crate. At about 2 weeks Momma will want to venture out but the chicks need to stay in the crate for another couple of weeks. You can let her out and let her roam the yard for a few minutes while you watch the babies and then let her back in the crate when she comes back to the door. When she takes the babies out for the first tour, you will really want to have your video camera ready because it is so sweet to watch her guide and protect them and then return back to the crate in just a few minutes.
As the days go on momma will want to introduce her little ones to the flock, if you have a free range flock you can move the crate from the back porch to underneath a shady tree and watch them. A few more days and momma will take her littles right into the run and coop with the others.
Since the chicks aren’t big enough to get on the roost yet, momma will gather them in a nesting box and either stay with them at night or she will return to the roost after gathering her littles in one nesting box.
If you have never had the opportunity to watch a momma hen and her chicks, you will want to make it happen. Spring is the best time of the year, so be watching those girls and hopefully you will get a broody one.
If you have kiddos in your house this will be the most exciting spring/summer event for them.
Have fun hatchin’