Sunday 4 March 2012

Setting the Broodies

The egg brooding plan is now in action.
We will be using the broody hens to incubate the eggs.
The chicks will be brought into the house as they hatch, where we can control the heat and environment better than in the coop.

Once the coop was cleaned out, I just needed some fresh bedding before I could get things going.
The only problem was that my source of bedding is all out at the moment.
Paul, down the road is logging right now and not dressing lumber on the planer.
That means no shavings until he does.

I have been woodworking so I have some shavings here, but they're hardwood which isn't ideal as bedding.
The hardwood shavings I used on the floor of the coop.
For the nests, I dressed some cedar lumber I've been saving for our new bedroom.
Four boards did enough shavings for four nests.

Once the coop was set up with bedding, food and water, I was ready to move the hens up.
There are three broodies.
I have four nests set up so I'm ready for another hen to go broody.
That should happen soon.
It's a good arrangement because the broody birds hog the nests where the egg-laying goes on.
Moving the broody birds opens up the nests for the layers.
The broody birds, in turn, get some peace and quiet,
                                  without having to defend their nests.

The Old Kitchen Cupboards

We're checking the barn nests for eggs throughout the day and moving the fresh eggs up to the coop.
There, we place the eggs under the broody birds.
I'll keep going until there is no room left under the hens.
Our birds are pretty big so they'll be able to incubate eighteen eggs each (so I figure).

I just tuck the eggs under the hens when I place the eggs, but today I saw something fun.
I put an egg down next to the hen while I was placing another.  While I tucked the first egg under, she brought the other under her with distinctive motion.  It was really neat to see that.  She got that egg under her so fast and smoothly.  

Adding eggs on an ongoing basis means that I won't be able to let the hens raise the chicks.
They will hatch in intervals and the first ones to hatch will get the attention while the remaining eggs get left in the cold.
We just go up to the coop periodically and listen for cheeping.
If there is a hatched chick, it is brought in to the kiddie pool where it can be kept safe and warm.
As long as the hens are setting, we'll be able to bring off chicks.
We're left to the whim of the chickens but the breed is a reliable brooder.

Eventually, I would like to have the hens raise the chicks as well as just incubating them.
That would eliminate the need for an electric heat lamp, as well as relieving some chick-sitting responsibility.
For that, we need more chicken coops.  That would allow us to separate the hens and their chicks from each other as well as from the layers and roosters.
That's another project for the List.

The bottom photo is of the propane furnace.

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