Hatching Chicks Using Incubators vs Broody Hens, Part 2


In my previous post, I discussed several points comparing the relative benefits of using incubators for hatching chicks vs. doing things the natural way — that is, assigning the job to a broody. Today I am going to cover some more factors influencing the chicken owner's decision on this matter.

Newly hatched baby chick

Hand-raised chicks often turn out more sociable and friendly as adult birds.


Because our coop is small and we rely heavily on free-ranging, the brooding area we have for mother hens and newly hatched chicks is very confined, and so by necessity, the young chicks are introduced to the great outdoors quite early — especially if the enclosed space is needed by another new brood. Now, of course the young ones are protected by their mother, but still, there are unfortunate incidents in the form of stray cats, dogs, birds of prey, and objects in the yard that might fall and crush chicks (though we do our best to “chick-proof” the surroundings).

Another challenge is when there are several broods around — over-protective hens might be dangerous to another hen’s chicks, up to the point of pecking them to death because of some imaginary threat to their own offspring.

When we operate our incubator and rear the chicks ourselves, they remain indoors much longer. I gradually introduce them to the flock under my supervision, starting from only several minutes each day. Eventually they are ready to mix with the flock unsupervised, and finally, as pullets, they are moved to the coop full-time.

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