This is a discussion on Chicks !!! within the Livestock forums, part of the Survival Food Procurement category; Originally Posted by John Galt I've already got a few chickens, just enough for a few eggs. But I got them from a neighbor already ...
John Galt Get yourself a couple of broody hens, that usually means breeds kept as pets and such like game hens, oeg bantams, frizzles, silkies and the like.
A good broody will happily raise store bought chicks for you with the flock. I have a few bantam hens and every spring they go broody, I let them sit for 3 weeks on dud eggs and then pick up chicks for them at the feed store or a local breeder.
My broodies do all of the work right in the henhouse/coop. They keep the chicks warm, introduce them to the flock at 3-4 days old, teach them what to eat etc... The only thing I have to do is make darn sure to protect the little family from predators (in my case that means rat snakes at night). Happier healthier chicks, happy hen, no work for me, and no hassles trying to integrate older chicks into the flock. The chicks also develop much faster! Plus it is tons of fun to watch.
You do have to follow a process to get the hen to accept the chicks though. And don't get tiny hens if you already have a full size rooster.
Here is my best little broody, a 6-7 year old Bantam hen introducing 2 brown leghorn chicks that I bought at the local ace hardware:
Last edited by Sonya; 12-08-2016 at 09:02 AM.
I wanted to see at what temperature I need to put a heat lamp on my chickens with this cold weather coming down from the north. last year I didn't need any, but was worried this year
From what I understand even people in Minnesota often don't put heat in their coops unless they are trying to encourage their hens to lay. You do want a perch so they can settle down and cover their feet. I've also read giving them a good bit of corn before they go to roost helps them generate heat through the night.
There's nothing wrong with giving them some heat but not really required. But then I only know from what I've read online.
It has to be more comforting to be covered up and huddled together rather than standing under a heat lamp, especially for prey animals like chickens. One very noticeable thing about using a broody to raise chicks is how quiet the chicks are. Even buying chicks at a store, they naturally peep all the time, but as soon as you slip them under a real mama hen they stop all that. They go completely silent when nestled in all of the dark warm feathers.
Last edited by Sonya; 12-09-2016 at 04:42 AM.
Using a light does help get the hens laying. I was getting no eggs so a few weeks ago I put a LED light in the coop on a timer. It comes on at 5:30am and stays on until 8am. It makes the chicken's day longer and now they are laying some.
From what I understand if it gets really cold they won't lay even with the light so some people up north turn the light off during January and February to give the chickens a rest from laying.
Many believe that letting them rest naturally over the winter could extend the overall number of years they will keep laying. I have a mixed flock and some hardly ever lay, nevertheless I have more eggs than I can eat most of the year.
Last edited by Sonya; 12-09-2016 at 02:43 PM.