Getting started. Why raise chickens? 4
Requirements (parts list) for raising chickens 4
Basic breed types and their characteristics 2
Purebred flock vs. assortment 2
Incubators and hatching chicks 3
When things go wrong and predators too! 5
Processing birds 4
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Advantages and Uses of Broody Hens
The really high power laying breeds of chicken generally don’t go broody. They have been selected for this characteristic. The reason for this is that a broody hen stops laying eggs for a minimum of three weeks. Some of the high powered laying breeds, such as certain strains of leghorn (pronounced “legorn”) can lay close to 300 eggs in a year. I’ve heard of an Australorp laying 364 eggs in a year, and I’m sure that some other breeds have matched this.
Most dual purpose breeds, and probably all breeds which go broody, average somewhere around 140 eggs a year. This is just a generalization. Even different strains of the same breed may differ in how well they lay.
So, the question arises, why would anyone want to raise a breed of chicken which goes broody? It seems to cut egg production!
Breeds which have broody hens can perpetuate themselves.
This provides a tremendous resilience to one’s chicken raising endeavor. By keeping a flock of broody type chickens:
- One may perpetuate it indefinitely, and without an incubator.
- It is easy to increase the flock. They may even multiply without your permission!
- A broody hen not only hatches chicks. She also cares for (broods) them, keeping them warm, protecting (to an extent) and even teaching them the finer points of foraging.
A broody hen can be very handy!
- By having a steady source of broody hens, one may start new batches of chicks without as much expense and hardware.
- By having a broody hen can be used to adopt chicks which were just shipped in.
- A broody hen can be used to hatch other kind of fowl, such as ducks, turkeys or geese.
So you really want to raise a high powered egg laying breed. There’s still a way to use a broody hen or two.
One could have most of the advantages of a broody breed by keeping a couple hens which are broody by nature. They could even run with the flock of non broody birds. Just pick a broody which lays a different color egg than the non broody breed you want to keep. Then, when you want to hatch chicks from that breed, put those eggs under the broody hen. She’ll hatch them and raise them as her own.