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Old 11-02-2007, 11:49 AM  
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chicks hatching in winter

Hey guys, I've got another chicken question for ya'll. One of my hens is laying a nest right now & I imagine they are fertile as this hen is...well....let's just say she seems to be the roosters favorite gal-pal. None of my other hens ever layed during the winter & I was wondering if there is anyway the chicks could survive when it's this cold (colder, by the time they hatch). The nest is in our old milkhouse but we have no heat lamps or anything in there, they just rough it. With the horrid luck we've had this year with the chickens, I'd really like it to work out this time.

Also, they bunk with the ducks. The nest is currently on a chair as I didn't want the ducks disturbing the hen or the eggs but once they hatch, I'll have to put the nest on the ground so they can follow mamma & get back in the nest too. My question here is..will the ducks bother or hurt the hen &/or chicks?

Thanks
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Old 11-02-2007, 03:10 PM  
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Yep! You have a problem but it's possible to hatch and raise these chicks but your chances of having a better success of it would be to confine mom and chicks.

I was surprised I got chicks this late in the year as it's been so cold. Momma hen must have been one hot chick.

Make sure she has plenty of nesting material under the eggs to insulate them from the cold floor. Moving the nest is not a good idea once she has started to set. Mark your calender as to when she started to set. (You'd be surprised how quickly you can forget.) And mark it again when you expect them to hatch. Three days prier to hatching check on momma hen and check on her once a day until they hatch.

My thoughts are the ducks will eat the chicks if given a chance. Mom will be stressed and could possibly kill the chicks herself trying to protect them. (I've seen it happen.) Is there someplace that you can confine mom after the chicks hatch? If not you can pull the chicks and raise them in a brooder in the house.
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:33 PM  
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I could probably rig something up to isolate her and the chicks but wouldn't that stress her out too, being seperated from the rest of the chickens? I could maybe put up a divider in the milkhouse to segregate the ducks...would that work? At least then, she could still be with the other chickens.
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:48 PM  
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I would invest in a heat lamp or else I don't think the chicks will make it. I would separate the chicks from the hen and raise them with that heat lamp--you may need to move them into a warmer area (mudroom or something). Baby chicks are super sensitive to cold. Personally, if it were my chicken---I wouldn't let her set---wait for spring.
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Old 11-03-2007, 10:21 PM  
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Actually a momma hen doesn't "hang" with the gang when she has chicks. So no I don't think she'd be upset that she is alone.
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Old 11-03-2007, 10:59 PM  
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I went digging around in my photo bucket to see if I had a pic of my cage. If your interested in building something like this I can try and get better pics of it.

It was a bird cage originally. I took off a panel and built a box and attached it to it to turn it into a rabbit cage. Then I discovered it works for my bantam hens when they have chicks.

The cage is behind the goats head.

My flaws are....the hen doesn't like those hanging out under the wire floor. That would be the cats. So closer to the floor would be better or use a tray under it.

I wouldn't use chicken wire as I've seen chicks pass right through it. My cage has one half by one inch wire. Another plus to that is rats and cats can't get in.

My box could be bigger. Looks cozy doesn't it.

The top lifts off the box.

Notice the hole is a ways from the floor. To high for the chicks to get out so I put a rock in front of the hole. Now the chicks can get out if they want. The water-er is in the wire part of the cage. Keeps the box dry.

Just some suggestions. Good luck and hope you have a successful hatch. Maybe Thanksgiving chicks?
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Old 11-04-2007, 08:33 AM  
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Well she laid the tenth egg today so she should start sitting now.

Wow farmergal, that's a fancy nest you've got set-up. We have a loft in the milkhouse that I was thinking of using. That or a dog kennel rigged up so they couldn't get out. I don't know what I'm going to do just yet but thanks for the ideas. Here's hoping theses guys actually make it. They won't however be Thanksgiving babies as our Thanksgiving has already come & gone. But maybe an early Christmas gift perhaps?

P:S: I love the pic of the hen....you can almost read her mind!
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Old 11-05-2007, 03:21 AM  
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Not sure what breed of chicken we are talking about but my hens didn't stop at 10 eggs.

We have been having some really cold nights. Are your eggs protected from freezing?
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Old 11-05-2007, 10:45 AM  
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Mine are all bantees & they have always stopped at ten. My grandfather said his always came back with nearly 2 dozen chicks when he kept bantees, but mine never lay more than ten. Last I saw, she was either sitting or laying (have to check on her after I get off of here). They aren't protected from freezing which is why I started this thread to find out if there is any possibility of them actually hatching. Doesn't really matter if they do or don't (it's not a living) but it would be nice to have more little fuzzballs running around again.
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Old 11-05-2007, 11:19 AM  
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I'm not sure just how cold an egg can get before it kills the embryo. If she sets and the eggs hatch then I guess you can say they can get pretty darn cold.

The thing to remember is that she warms the eggs every time she sets on the nest to lay the next one. My concern is the ice crystal that can form in them when the nighttime drops into the 20's. If your barn stays fairly warm then it might only get into the mid 30's. That's cold but not frozen.

Hens around here are known to lay in the spring before the last frost but I personally don't recall a hatch from those clutches. Doesn't mean it can't happen though.
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Old 11-05-2007, 07:58 PM  
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Well she is setting the nest now so at least she knows what to do! The milkhouse isn't very big and it's shared with 6 other chickens & five fat ducks so maybe there's enough body heat to keep it warm enough? I'm gonna have to look up what the 20's & 30's faranhiet is as I haven't a clue what that is converted to celcius. Is 20F around the freezing mark?
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