How to hatch eggs under a broody hen 

So I’ve just had someone who’s about to collect some eggs from our pet flock to hatch under her broody so I thought I can make a blog post to help them and other people when they decide to satisfy there stubborn broody hen. So here’s a step to step guide…

  1. Move your hen into a “broody coop” is always better than leaving her in the coop with the other hens bothering her and you’ll need another house to keep her and her chicks once they’ve hatched away from the rest of the flock.move her off her nest at night when it’s dark. put her and her eggs in the broody coop and the next morning see if she’s still broody if she is you can either purchase some eggs from a breeder or eBay and if youve got a rooster hatch your own- it’s also best to buy or set more eggs than you need to hatch under a hen a specially if she’s a clumsy first time mum or if the eggs are posted.
  2. Make sure every morning your hen is getting up of the nest to strech her legs and have a drink and some food- it’s a good time to add some health tonic or vitamins to her water as being broody can take its toll on a hen.
  3. You’ll notice that she’ll be doing massive broody poos just remove these as they can be quite un pleasant- this is why she should come of the nest each morning to get dump it else where so it’s not making the eggs messy.
  4. On day 7-10 candle the eggs using a purpose made candeling light or torch- you should see a red dot this is the embryo there also should be veins that you may see pumping. Bad eggs such as embryos that have passed or not developed or infertile eggs will be clear with a light yellow or orange blob which is the yolk and embryos that have died produce a blood ring this will look like a red ring around the inside of the egg and you won’t be able to see any veins or a embryo.Between day 19-21 don’t take her off the nest as this is when she’ll up her humidity and sit tight ready for her eggs to pip. 
    Here’s a healthy developing embryo.
  5. Make sure to powder your birds with lice/mite powder since a hen sitting in the coop all day is easy prey for mites and lice. 
  6. Leave your hen to sit tight on the nest between day 19-21 as this is when she ups humidity ready for her babies to pop out.
  7. Feed your chicks chick crumbs these should be fed to them until they’re 8 weeks old and the mother should have mixed corn too. If you’ve got medicated chick feed to prevent cocidossis (see in blog post 3 common problems in chicks) there might be a egg withdrawal if the mother hen starts laying again. 
  8. Put pebbles or marbles in the water pots to allow the chicks to drink but not drown. 
  9. The hen will decide when’s best to say farewell to her babies this tends to start when the chicks are around  7 weeks of age. The hen can mix back into the flock when the chicks are fully feathered and when she’s fed up, but keep the young chicks in the broody coop and feed them growers pellets from 9-18 weeks of age.
  10. When your chicks are 18 weeks of age and big enough they can be re introduced carefully into the new flock. And then they can start eating layers pellets and hopefully once they’re settled lay their first eggs!
    It’s a fun and great experience for every one when a mother hen hatches her brood.

I hope your mother hen hatches a lovely brood, you’ll find it’s Nice to have chicks running about the garden. Please feel free to use the categories section to serch up specific posts via key words as theres some posts on problems in chicks aswell as using a incubator to hatch them.

Hentertainment 

Our hens are happy in their run and whenever I get the chance I let them out into the garden to have a dust bathe and just generally enjoy themselves while destroying the garden in the process! But it’s important to keep your birds wether it be chickens, quail or any other poultry occupied. If birds are left in a bare run – no matter how big it is – they will soon get bored this can cause feather pecking and bulling and even depression your egg numbers may decrecrease any you flock won’t be exercising as much either. It’s easy to keep your flock entertained here are some tips you could use….

  1. Give your birds  the 5* luxury accommodation it can be cheap too: some branches and logs make great perches in a run that your hens will enjoy and soil mixed with a little bit of D.E makes a great dust bathe and straw to scratch about in.
  2. Treats are a great and nutritious, both you and the birds will benefit from these. A luettice you won’t use can be hung up with string you hens will love pecking at this the same goes for any other poultry friendly fruit and veg. Corn scattered in the straw or soil will encourage the birds to enjoy digging around aswell as wearing down their claws the eggs will also be nice and rich from the corn. And bird feeders you may use for fat balls can be filled with spinach or hentastic treats which our chooks love!
  3. Mineral blocks can be purchased cheaply and are full of vitamins and minerals, grit and all your birds favourite corns you flock will love them.- you can also DIY and I’m the summer make ice blocks: freeze mixed corn, peas, sweetcorn and other goodies with water put it in the freezer a ta-da a refreshing tasty ice block to not only give your hens something fun to do but cooling and hydrating them at the same time 🙂

I hope this helps you as boredom can be a real problem especially in ” lock down ” when bird flu is about luckily we now can let out birds to free range or into a uncovered run due to restrictions being lifted Aswell as being a problem when it’s muddy and wet and the birds have nothing to do.If you’ve got any boredum busters comment below well love to hear your ideas! 

Mites and lice

The weather gets warmer and you might start worrying about mites and lice. Here’s what you need to know so you can fight these little bugs!

First things first what are mites? They’re little grey parisites that sometimes decide they want to invest your coop and disrupt your flock. As your birds go to roost in their coop the little mites will crawl out of the cracks and crevices and climb onto your hens for a mid night feast of blood. A fully grown mite will lay lots of eggs in crevices of your coop after 2-3 days these will hatch and in around 5 days these will be laying more eggs and before you know it you’ve got thousands of them in your coop. Signs of mites can be that your chickens don’t want to roost at night in fear of the mites so instead they camp out. You also can place a piece of paper in the coop and in the morning or when you lock your chickens up in the evening you’ll see the red dots crawling on it. 

  How to treat mites. 

  1. Use D.E aka ditamatious Earth although only use this when needed as it can cause respitory problems! D.E is razor sharp particles of aquatic fossils called diatoms these will kill the mites when you sprinkle the D.E on the birds at night or in the cracks of the house. And alowing your chickens to dust bathe will help to kill mites.
  2. Particular sprays can be used in the house for mites I suggest ~ net-tex total mite kill. 

Wooden houses are more Susceptible to red mite with plastic houses such as a omlet eglu you can just wash them away.

So thas mites what are lice? Mites are another little bug but these live on the chicken, they feed on the skin laying lots of grey eggs round the base of the feather shaft. The lice cause irritation so chickens may peck out there feathers and stop laying eggs these are things to look out for. We find that our “fluffier” breeds such as orpingtons and brahmas are more likely to get lice but any of your birds can get them! 

  Treatment for lice. 

  1. Like mites you can purchase a powder for mites to put on your birds at night alowing for it to work its way into the feathers. Barrier louse powder is the one we’ve used in the past it works well and smells like mint, perfect!
  2. A bath can wash of mites and if you chop a few feathers covered in eggs will reduce numbers of lice although it’s always best to properly treat them with powders. 
  3. And like mites alowing your birds to dust bathe can prevent lice.

The grey, white clumps are lice eggs you can find these around the vent, under wings and down the back and neck.

I hope this will make you feel at ease going into the warm summer months knowing that if you get a infestation you can treat it. Every one will get mites or lice in poultry you just need to start treating it when it happens to prevent a large infestation. After I took a break from keeping chickens I purchased a house from eBay to start again, I’ll never buy a cheap chicken coop again! Lots of paces for mites to hide and hard to control and defeate the infestation so I moved over to buying a omlet eglu go and now a eglu cube . There great and plastic meaning I can wash away the mites and dirt and it’s easy to clean.

3 common problems in young chicks.

It’s half way through spring and many of us expanding our flocks may have little chicks snuggled under a brooder or with a mother hen, if your wondering how to incubate eggs then search hatching chicks into the serch bar on our page. Otherwise here are 3 common problems you may need to resolve when keeping chicks…

Pasty butt

Pasty butt is common it’s when droppings stick to the down around the chicks vent. It can be caused by being overheated, too cold even stress or because of something they have eaten. The vent should not be confused with the chick’s belly button. The vent is the area on a chick where droppings and eggs exit the body. Pulling off a belly button can not only hurt the chick but get infected and even cause disembowelment. But if droppings block up a chick’s vent without being removed the chicks could die. 
    Prevention    

  1. Clean regularly to minimise loose faeces.
  2. Check chicks vents every now and then for pasty but.

    Treatment  

Its very simple just use a warm damp cloth or paper towel and remove the droppings carefully and be even more gentle not to pull the droppings or down other wise it can cause skin around the vent to rip. After you’ve dried and cleaned the area put some petroleum jelly on it to prevent any other droppings from sticking. 

As you can see the droppings stuck to the vent area therefore this is pasty butt.

Spraddle leg

 Spraddle leg is a deformity of a chick or birds legs, the feet a spread/pointing out to the sides. It makes walking hard or even impossible for the chick. if untreated it can be permanent. Although it can simply be fixed! It can be caused due to incubation problems such as the temperature going up or down or a long, difficult hatch. Injury to the legs in also a problem with another cause being a overcrowded brooder and last it could be a vitamin e deficiency. 

  Prevention  

  1. Don’t overcrowd your brooder and use paper towels or as we have found best shavings for a floor in your brooder.

  Treatment  

You will need to “brace” your chicks legs to allow the muscles to strengthen in the right position. yarn, rubber bands, tape and vetwrap can be used for a brace although it will need to be able to stay fixed in place, not restrict blood circulation when applied, doesn’t damage the skin, is easy to take off and allows the chick try walking. Now to make a brace: wrap two little pieces of The material around each of the legs just below the knee, don’t wrap too tightly. With vetwrap it sticks to itself, so no tape is used. Next cut a long pice to secure the legs together. The legs should now be underneath the chick, slightly wider compared to a normal stance but allow a slight amount of space for the chick to more them a bit. Over time the chick’s legs will become stronger and therefore slowly start to allow for more leeway inbetween the legs until it is definite that the brace is no longer needed.

As you can see a plaster is being used to brace the chicks legs together.

Coccidossiss 

Coccidiosis is a parasite which damages the wall of a chickens gut there are many different types some harmless right through to life threatening. sporoulated oocyst is digested by the chick then chemicals inside the gut start to break down the oocyst wall and it then releases the type of the coccidiosis called the sporocyst. The sporocyst changes and it occupies cells of the gut wall and they then start to replicate, more occysts are made and then they are passed out in the faeces into the brooder, run or enclosure and can infect other chickens. What is so fatal about coccidiosis is that one oocyst through its cycle can destroy thousands of cells in the gut, so think what happens if the chick is to digest lots of oocyst. It’s extremely painful for the chicks and causes the birds to stop eating, stand with a hunched posture and messy looking feathers. And damage created to the gut reduces the amount of nutrients it can absorb then the birds can loose weight and they usually may have diarrhoea.

  Prevention  

  1. Clean regularly, since the chicks are passing out oocyst in their faeces which then can infect other birds.
  2. Don’t overstock your pens, brooders etc. Birds are more likely to spread diseases rapidly if kept confined in a crowded space.

  Treatment  

Keep them in a warm and dry environment- nice and cosy and Then treat with medication, I suggest Harkers coxoid .

Here is a very bad case of coccidossiss note the hunched over chick and blood in the droppings .

I hope you know feel more confident in raising chicks and enjoy the experience if you need anymore advice take a look at the blog posts or email me via reedhorspool.theurbanhens@gmail.com and find us on Facebook at Theurbanhens or on my own Instagram page which is now full of chicken photos called r33dyr0011 thats two zeros! Oh and don’t forget to keep an eye on our page as I’m aiming for at least two educational posts every month! 🐣