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.
This batch of Rhode Island Red eggs is due to hatch on April 9. This is the first batch of eggs from these hens and rooster, so we’ll see what happens. The rooster has an interesting sounding crow – it is more like that of a small bantam rooster. I hope that is an inherited trait!
This batch of eggs has been scrapped due to my own negligence. We had a power outage for about 12 hours several days ago. I cranked up the generator and ran the incubator (as well as the water pump and the office), but when I plugged the incubator back into the wall outlet, I plugged in the incubator but not the egg rotator. What I thought was the plug for the rotator was the plug for the seed starting heating mat. They might have still successfully hatched, but if only a few hatched, I didn’t want to try mixing the chicks after starting a second batch. The new batch will probably be started in about a week.
One major point for Wyandotte’s comment! Momma Hen doesn’t care about electrical power.
Hatched by Momma hen - Buff Orpington
Having chicks hatched the “natural way” is, of course, the best way to go. I previously had some broody Buff Orpingtons, but this current group has shown absolutely no interest in setting on the eggs – a major disappointment for me.