We just had a beautiful group of chicks hatch today on our farm. We did not use an incubator which is very common today, but did it the old-fashioned method by letting our broody Buff Orpington hen have her way and hatch out a clutch for us.
Hen-raised Chicks Means Less Work and Worry
I think that there are many benefits to hen-hatched chicks over incubator-raised chicks. The most obvious one is the lack of work on your part. If you allow a hen that becomes broody to have a chance to hatch out eggs, she will do all of the work for you. No checking the incubator for humidity and heat levels. No turning eggs. And the best part is that she will raise the chicks themselves instead of raising them in a brooding box. She leads them to the food and water, she keeps them warm and she also protects them with her very life. I am always concerned about a fire with the heat lamp and fret over it the entire 4-5 weeks that the chicks are underneath. With a hen raised brood, this fear is eliminated completely.
Have You Ever Seen a Mama Hen with Her Chicks?
Another reason that I prefer hen-raised chicks is that I just cannot get over the charm of seeing mother hen with her brood following her around the farm. It is a very precious sight and I enjoy just sitting and watching them scurry around after her and how she lovingly cares for her babies.
Mothering is Hereditary
A final reason that I prefer to let a hen raise her chicks is that the chicks that are hen-raised will often grow up to be broody themselves. This is convenient of you plan to continue to hatch your own eggs in this method. Many incubator raised chicks have this broodiness bred out of them having come from a long line of incubator raised birds. This really goes along with the whole factory farm mentality of modern farming practices. Being old-fashioned in philosophy, I prefer to allow nature to continue as intended.
Why and Why Not to Go the Hen-raised Route
If you are looking to raise chicks for sale or commercial, and need a higher rate of hatching, this method may not work for you. If you feel that you would miss your daily egg from you broody hen, again, this method may not work for you either since you can expect many weeks to go by without an egg from this particular hen. But if you are like me and like to do things the old fashioned method and have no pressure or need for high hatching rates, why not let your broody hen do as nature intended and hatch out a clutch for you? At the very least, you will have a beautiful rewarding experience for the whole family to enjoy!
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