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Do I need an incubator?
Fri 14-Jan-11
8:08 am
Algarve, Portugal

2nd Grader

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Hello wonderful people! Today is an exciting day, finishing off the fence for the horses - whoop!

I have a little question as a total newbie!

I'm going to buy some chickens very soon - I was thinking 10 hens and a cockerel which will be mostly for eggs but we also want to eat chicken from time to time...

We live off grid so mains power is in short supply as everything mains has to get run through an inverter...

So my question is... Is there any way to raise chicks without an incubator? Do I need a particular type of hen that is better at being Mummy?

Thank you!

Emma ūüôā


Keep up to date with my adventures on my blog! :-)

Fri 14-Jan-11
8:29 am
Argyll, Scotland

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wave Hi Emma

All you will need are your hens and of course your cockerel.  When Spring/Summer comes. if your hens are of an age, some of them will become broody and want to sit on the nest box.  A hen will lay a fertilised egg each day and when she thinks she has enough eggs she will start to sit continuously and the eggs will activate and start to develop into chicks.  She will sit for 21 days and then the eggs will hatch.  The chicks will stay with mum for weeks.   And you can still be enjoying eggs from the other hens.

  Anyway you will get lots of advice when the time comes but that in general is how it works.  No incubator should be necessary.  I have a mixture of hens and they all seem to be all right, but I am no expert.  

Old teachers never die, they just lose their class

Fri 14-Jan-11
8:57 am
Cannock Chase


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Hi Emma

on the incubator side if you decide to go that way they fall into mainly 2 types ,240v direct and 12v/240v transformed .i presume as you are inverting you are generating lov voltage and storing in batteries .if this is the case try to get a 12/240v type and you car run it direct from the batteries at 12v so cutting out the inverting and transforming stages and hence the wasted energy.

but as danast says the girls will do the biz given time ,as for breeds some are good breeders some are good at getting bigenough to eat quickly the sussex and sussex cross types are good allrounders but as Joanna is finding in latvia it is usualy whats available in your airea ,and which breeds suite the climate best of luck kiss

MOS wave

sit down with a cupa and the urge will subside

Fri 14-Jan-11
12:33 pm
lincolnshire fens


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wave Hi Emma welcome.

As MOS and Danast say let the hen do the work, it dosen't stop with an incubator  you then need a brooder lamp whereas the hen does it for you.

Successful artificial incubation has been described more as an art than a science , the machine large or small should be kept at a constant temprature and humidity preferably a special room .Last one I used would have held Toffeapples smart car  capacity 10,000 pheasant eggs with a separate hatcher 4,000 capacity in another room much higher humidity  . Stick to Broody Hens  it's a lot easier .


Seed catalogues are responsible for more unfulfilled fantasies than the web and playboy combined . (after Michael Perry)

Fri 14-Jan-11
2:19 pm
Bucks/Oxon Border

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I have only ever used a broody hen but I occasionally buy in fertilised eggs to tuck under them.....very useful when you want fresh stock or a different breed to add to your flock. You will get an average of about 50% males to females so you will get plenty of very noisy cocks for eating.  I have found that you need to remove the broody with her clutch of eggs from the rest of the birds otherwise  two other things are likely to happen. All of your other hens will get the urge to go broody too &/or the broody will steal their eggs & therefore the clutch will be a delayed one (this can be very wasteful as the mother hen will give up on the late ones so they get cold & die in the shell while she is playing with her new hatchlings.  

It is a very good idea to mark all the eggs in the initial hatch so you can tell if any have been added. I have an old rabbit hutch I use as a maternity ward. I leave mother & eggs locked in this but place it near all the other members of the flock......it seems to make for better intergration later when the chicks are ready to join the others.  Chickens are very hot on visual recognition & are very nosy about newcomers. This system has worked for me for 10 years. The mother hen teaches them the rules of the flock & will make your life a lot easier as well as keeping them warm & protecting them against the rest of the flock.




"The beautiful is as useful as the useful...perhaps more so."

from Les Miserables

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