Egg #2

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by gcvmom, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    arrived today courtesy of Herbert the hen.

    So just how many do you think she'll deposit before she decides to stay put for awhile?

    Do hens ever NOT sit on their eggs?
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hens don't sit on their eggs unless they're broody. If the eggs are taken away each day, they don't get a chance to accumulate and the hen is less likely to go broody.

    Bantams are more likely to go broody. Also, the sight of a nest full of eggs will send a vulnerable hen broody.

    If the eggs are fertile and the hen begins to sit form the first egg, they never get to accumulate enough eggs to make all that 21 days of egg sitting worth while (not if only one chick hatches out). But if the eggs accumulate (either from one hen, or a flock of hens all laying in the same nest) then a hen will eventually go broody and claim the nest, chasing out any others who try to lay there.

    That way when a hen starts sitting, the incubation dates from then. This means that more chicks are likely to hatch out for each clutch.

    We had a bantam once hatch out 17 chicks! I very much doubt they were all hers.

    We also managed to 'convince' a very susceptible Chinese silky bantam to go broody, in order to adopt an orphaned chick (Monty the Diamond Python had killed the mother).

    But a fairly commn-or-garden-variety full-size egg layer has probably had most of the broodiness bred out of her.

    You will know when a hen goes broody. They no longer strut around standing tall. Instead, they sit low down, glaring at you if you go near and looking like a bag of chicken with a head on top. if you can imagine semi-liquid chicken. They also make a different sound, almost a chirrup sound. If you go near they hiss like a boiling kettle. That is when the most docile, tame hen can also peck. Again, bantams are the worst as a rule. If you're fast and used to them, they won't make contact. if you're not so fast and you have a particularly vicious hen, they can grab a fold of skin on your hand with their beak, and TWIST.

    To check eggs under a broody (even a vicious one) you attack from the rear - flip the hen forward onto her beak and ignore the outraged comments. She won't be able to do a thing about you.

    To get a broody hen off the boil, get her wet. They hate it. Being broody pushes their body temperature up. Sitting on a nest keeps their body temperature up. Getting them damp (especially underneath - but only in summer) and then making them sit on a wire grid (for good air circulation) will get all but the most persistent of the brood.

    A broody hen will stop laying. If you wait until she's had enough of being broody, you can miss the entire summer's laying opportunity.

    A hen in good condition will lay one egg every 1-2 days at best. As they get older they lay less often. A hen in her first year can lay through winter, but after they're a year old they tend to stop laying as the days get shorter. They need 17 hours of daylight a day, to keep laying.

    Our hens are about ten years old and we get maybe one egg a week out of six of them. I haven't yet been able to identify which hen - they ALL look surprised.

    If Henrietta does not have a Henry, there's no point letting her go broody. But if she has, and you want to try hatching the eggs, ask around for someone who has a bantam. They are fabulous mothers and will raise anything. I've even hatched peacocks under a bantam.

    Otherwise - just enjoy the eggs. I'm sure she doesn't mind. Infertile eggs do not good lying around the henhouse. They do a lot more good frying in the pan.

  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Thanks Marg! I had read that rooster sperm can live up to 30 days in a hen... do you think that's true? Cuz if it is, we've only had Herbert two weeks, and there's a good chance these are fertile. That's why we thought we'd give this first batch a go and see if she'll sit on them.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm really not sure. If you live in a built-up area, chances are Herbert has never met a rooster because roosters crow and annoy the neighbours. But if in doubt, then keep the eggs inside in a cool place (but not cold like the fridge) and keep them dry. To trick her into going broody, you would need to make some fake eggs to fill the nest - you blow a shop-bought egg (by making a hole in one end and a tiny hole in the other, you blow through the tiny hole and the egg contents come out the larger hole, catch the contents in a bowl and use it in an omelette) and then fill the egg with sand to about 65 g (depending on how big Henrietta's eggs are) and plug the hole with candle wax.

    No guarantee it will work, she might be of a breed which has had "broody" tendencies bred out.

    If you succeed, she may not stay broody for long enough. You would need to provide for her a water bowl nearby, a food bowl nearby and a dust bath (a very large bowl of dry sand is good). An alternative (may be needed also) is to pick her up and dust her and the nest with flea powder after a week or more of sitting.

    Alternatively - if it's chicks you want to hatch, get yourself a bantam and a setting of fertile eggs. They needn't be chook eggs but water birds could be a problem because the eggs need to be sprinkled with water in the last week, for water birds. If you get guinea fowl fertile eggs be prepared for apparently suicidal chicks - guinea fowl are so stupid they can drown in their water bowls. Mind you, so can chook chicks - to prevent this, you need to either have water in a dripper bottle for the chicks, or in a bowl filled with pebbles or an extruded brick (you know, the sort with holes through them). A chick that falls in can then save itself. Unless it's a guinea fowl chick, of course.

    If you hatch out chicks, the law of averages says that about half will be roosters. That means they will eventually begin to crow, and then fight. It's not pretty. And don't believe the fairy tales about roosters "crowing to greet the dawn". When your Pavarotti-wannabe crows on the half hour, every half hour, through the night, you will find out how friendly your neighbours aren't. And when you come home to find your roosters lying in bloody, feathery corpses strewn round the yard then you will understand how fighting birds can do a lot of damage to each other.

    That's why, if you hatch out roosters, you need to eliminate all but one (and that one too, if you want to stay in good with your neighbours).

    That generally means chopping them. Strong stomachs needed. So don't get too attached to them.

    You need to chop them preferably before they start to crow. Once they begin to really get going in the crowing department, the meat toughens up. Before that their behaviour will tell you, because they start play-fighting very early. Hens will play-fight too, but not so earnestly.

    Free-range chicken is generally much tougher, because they get so much exercise compared to the caged birds. A lot more flavour,though. So if you do breed, and need to despatch roosters, the crockpot is a good option. Recipes available on request.

    So, a strong recommendation - don't wish for chicks. Not unless you're fully prepared to go fully into the farming life in all its seamy glory.

  5. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    So what are you going to do with all the little chicks?
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Herbert was with a about a dozen other chickens at a nearby lake. And the lake owners said the roosters were constantly picking on her, that's why they encouraged us to take her home... We'll see what happens. If we get chicks, I can always turn them loose at the lake where Herbert came from!

    I wouldn't mind raising a fryer or two... If I can dispatch a rattlesnake or a colony of groundsquirrels one by one, I don't think the chopping block would leave me squeamish. But easy child would have an absolute FIT about that! She doesn't want any of us eating chicken as it is now!

    The local feed store might let me put up a "Chicks For Sale" sign if we get to that point. I've seen them posted before. In fact, when I was in there last, a woman overheard that I had a chicken and she wanted to know where she could get one also :) So there's a few folks in our area who would probably take them... besides, I think we're only zoned for one bird in our neighborhood.
  7. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    Oh, see, if I had to kill my own food, I'd starve. I would have made a terrible Pioneer.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    gcvmom....if you wanted to actually have a few birds to raise them for egg layers...which Im pretty sure they would let you have....I could probably ship you some fertilized eggs. I would just have to fedex them overnight in a carefully packaged container. That way the hen would sit them pretty soon.

    We actually convinced a hen to sit duck eggs one time because the ducks made poor moms...lmao. Should have seen that poor hen going crazy when the ducklings went swimming!
  9. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    The roosters were probably not 'picking on' on Herbert; they would have been 'treading' her - which is the farm term for mating. It looks a lot like a mugging - what with him standing on her back and hanging on with his beak so he doesn't fall off! All perfectly normal but as Marg said farming is not cute - it involves ALL aspects of life.

    Those eggs are probably fertile - now make up your mind. Are you ready for EVERYTHING raising chooks involves? If not; eat those eggs.

    Marg's Man
  10. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Oh, I KNOW what "picking on" means in barnyard language! Sheesh! I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, ya know ;)

    Anyhow... it's a little adventure I figure we can take on and if they hatch it will be a fun summer for the kids to watch the little peeps grow. Come September when everybody's distracted with school I'll figure out the next step... BUT, first they have to hatch! So I'm NOT counting any chickens yet, except Herbert, of course :D And if this batch rots, so be it. We'll just plan on eating whatever she lays after we get back from our little trip out in the Pacific...
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    IN which case - make sure there is plenty of straw to keep her warm (it also encourages them to go broody) and leave a lovely big clutch of eggs in there for her to think about. Mark her eggs as she lays them with the date (in pencil). Make sure her nest is safe from marauding pests. If/once she starts sitting, you can remove any extra non-fertile eggs.

    Alternatively - see if you can get your hands on a supply of fertile eggs of just about any fowl species. You could supplement her supply with those (again, mark the eggs with pencil).

    About a week after she starts sitting, you can candle the eggs. Look it up online, you should be able to get a site with diagrams to show you what to look for. Again, exciting and informative for children.

  12. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Talked to my chicken friend. He says chickens can get in the 'laying' mode where they just continually lay infertile eggs. (That's why farmers love them.) Actually, now that I think back, that is what we had. We had one rooster and about 30 chickens. I doubt that one rooster could take care of all those chickens. Hmmm...or, it could of been gosh darn talented rooster. Maybe I should have a rooster instead of a husband.

    Anyways, if you plan on actually eating the eggs, they need to be taken daily. Don't let her sit on them. You can hold a flashlight up to the egg to see any red. If you see red...DO NOT EAT. It's already developing a chick.

  13. Star*

    Star* call 911

    If you aren't sure if you have embryos or just eggs - hold the egg up to a candle - It's called candeling.

    DF was raised on a chicken farm. I was telling him about Herbert the hen. So what tidbit does HE come back with to keep the conversation rolling?

    OH I used to slaughter 50 a day for my Mom.

    I'm with Wynter - I can barely eat meat, and what I can eat I do not want to envision as the 2nd wife of Henry the VIII.

    BA = GOCK in deed.
  14. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Abbey, she hasn't started sitting yet. It's only been two days, and from what Marg and others have said, it might be a few days more before she accumulates enough to stay put.
  15. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    What, did they EAT that many a day, or did they sell them to the butcher?
  16. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Yeah...chopping the throat, then the legs for years kind of helps you with the poultry food NOT wish.

    The day I had to sample their fresh cooked chickens, I thought I was going to die. I'm sure the chicken was good, but I was struggling every minute. I don't even want to revisit that day so I'm going to stop typing.

  17. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    We raised our own, for eggs and chicks. We had 2 pens. Across the fields from each other. I did for about 1 year that I lived with my Dad. We slaughtered the Chickens, about 100!!! We would put them in the sub-freezer for the next year. We also did our own Turkeys and pigs... Gack is right.
    I don't eat much meat either. We had Cows, I didn't have to touch those we also hunted moose :( Elk and Deer. Now I will eat free range stuff but not much. I just over did it and the smell... after you lopped off the head and started gutting them... blech! Sorry!!!
  18. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    So Herbert laid Egg #3 this afternoon. Still no real interest in sitting on them yet. Maybe she has one or two more to go and then she'll sit? Either way, she's getting locked up Friday night and won't get out until G'ma comes to check on the house and water stuff ... maybe Monday or Tuesday. I s'pose if she's not sitting on them by then, she probably never will.
  19. Star*

    Star* call 911

    DF grew up on a working farm and some were sold - some were frozen for the family. LARGE family -

    He can eat ANYTHING if it doesn't eat him first. We've had several of those day dream talks where we find a mini farm in Ohio - and I day dream about a baby donkey, a goat, maybe another pot bellied pig, and he talks about a calf. And I said lovingly "OH a calf like in City Slickers." and he said "Yeah honey, but in City Slickers they didn't butcher Norman for meat."

    WHOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH no way! So I take inventory of all the animal I wanted, donkey, goat, pot belly pig - no steaks, no meat, no chops - okay we're safe from the CARNISORUS.

    It was a really good day dream up until he hauled my baby calf off to butcher.
  20. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    This is a farm town, but I'm too much of a city girl to raise animals that aren't pets. I know where meat comes from, just don't want to know too much. There's a guy around the corner who used to raise deer. The deer were so pretty...and then the sign went up...Venison for sale.