On January 1, we put 12 fertile eggs under a broody Buff Orphington hen. Twenty-one days later, we had seven baby chicks. The chicks are (I hope) all Rhode Island Reds (RIR). We have a RIR rooster, and the RIR eggs are shaped a bit differently than the Buff Orpington eggs, so I hope that what we have is pure Rhode Island Red chicks. We’ll see as they mature.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that the survival rate of chicks hatched and raised by a hen is much better than with an incubator. The incubator yields a bit better number of hatched chicks than the hen, but the mortality rate during the first week or so is much higher. So far, we have never lost a single chick that was hatched and raised by a hen.

To the right is the Roll-Away nest box described in a previous post. It makes a great hatching nest with the partition removed and sitting level. The feeder and water jar have since been moved on top of a concrete paver to keep the hen from scratching dirt into them.