Aug 15, 2013

Caring for Broody Hens: Facilitating Egg-hatching

Managing mother hens can be done the easy way...or the hard way. I’ll discuss both methods of accommodating mother hens, but first, let’s discuss broody basics.
As much as I enjoy pulling up a chair and watching chicks hatch from eggs in an incubator in my kitchen, there is no question that allowing a hen to hatch eggs is significantly easier than monitoring and managing the process in a plastic box. Mother hens handle all of the hatching details from humidity to temperature and egg-turning to raising the chicks. Managing mother hens can be done the easy way...or the hard way. In this article, I’ll discuss the hard way and the easy way to care for broody chickens to facilitate egg-hatching, but first, let’s discuss broody basics.

WHAT IS A BROODY HEN?
A hen that is committed to hatching chicks is known as a broody. The state of being broody is controlled by instinct, hormones and lighting conditions. Left to her own devices, a broody will lay a clutch of eggs, then stop egg-laying and sit on them for 21 days (more or less) until they hatch.
Not every hen will become broody in her lifetime, but those that do are fiercely protective of their nests.
Freida, my White Silkie.
Not every hen will become broody in her lifetime, but those that do are fiercely protective of their nests. Some breeds are more inclined to brood than others; in particular, Silkies, Cochins and Australorps are perpetual contenders for the Broody Mother of the Year Award.
In general, a broody prefers a dark, private, comfortable location in which to set. Her chosen spot can range from a nest box inside the coop to a hidden location away from the coop.
HOW TO IDENTIFY A BROODY HEN
In general, a broody prefers a dark, private, comfortable location in which to set. Her chosen spot can range from a nest box inside the coop to a hidden location away from the coop. She plucks her own breast feathers to expose the warmth and moisture of her skin directly to the eggs (hence the expression "to feather one's nest").
A broody hen plucks her own breast feathers to expose the warmth and moisture of her skin directly to the eggs (hence the expression "to feather one's nest").
The sweetest hen in a flock is barely recognizable when she is broody. When she is approached, she growls, shrieks, puffs out her feathers and pecks at the intruder, trying to be as intimidating as possible in defense of her eggs.

She sits in the nest all day and night, leaving it briefly once or twice a day to eat, drink and relieve herself. Broody poop is distinctive, ginormous and the most foul smelling deposit possible. 
A broody hen sits in the nest all day and night, leaving it briefly once or twice a day to eat, drink and relieve herself. Broody poop is distinctive, ginormous and the most foul smelling deposit possible.
THE QUITTER and the HOMICIDAL HEN
Just because a hen is broody does not mean that she is going to be a successful or dedicated hatching hen. Some abandon the eggs after a number of days or weeks, or worse- they kill the chicks that hatch. Unfortunately, the only way to know whether a hen will be a good mother is by being a good mother. There is no test or method for predicting whether a hen will quit setting before the eggs hatch or become homicidal until it happens.
Just because a hen is broody does not mean that she is going to be a successful or dedicated hatching hen. Some abandon the eggs after a number of days or weeks, or worse- they kill the chicks that hatch. Unfortunately, the only way to know whether a hen will be a good mother is by being a good mother.
Rachel, my Bantam Cochin Frizzle on hatch day. Unfortunately, she is a homicidal broody.

Before purchasing expensive hatching eggs for a broody to hatch, it is wise to put her through the paces with ordinary hatching eggs. I have learned the hard way never to give an unreliable broody a second chance. If she abandoned the nest or harmed chicks once, she will do it again. Past performance is the best predictor of future behavior.

Have a back-up plan in anticipation of a quitter even with the less valuable eggs. Keeping an incubator on-hand in the event a broody abandons the eggs can be life-saving.


HOW TO STOP BROODINESS
If there are no fertile eggs available or the broody sits on an empty nest, broodiness can continue long beyond three weeks, resulting in negative health consequences for her and problems for other hens. A broody eats, drinks and eliminates waste once or twice a day at most. She consumes 80% less feed per day than usual. Over time, her comb becomes pale, her feathers lose sheen and she loses a noticeable amount of weight. This drastic change normal routine is tolerable in 21 day stints but protracted stints are unhealthy for her. When a broody hen is not needed, the behavior should be discouraged by “breaking” her. This article discusses in detail why and how to break a broody hen. 
If there are no fertile eggs available or the broody sits on an empty nest, broodiness can continue long beyond three weeks, resulting in negative health consequences for her and problems for other hens.
A broody hen in "The Broody Breaker."
IS IT POSSIBLE TO MAKE A HEN BROODY?
Nope. Either a hen is broody or she is not- one cannot make a hen broody. However, a hen that is already in the mood to brood may be encouraged to set if she sees a nest full of eggs or another hen brooding as the state seems to be contagious.

A BROODY HEN’S NEEDS: 
MATERNITY WARD vs. COOP NEST BOX
This maternity ward was a pet carrier inside a dog cage in my basement. 
It doubles as a hospital ward for sick or injured birds.
MATERNITY WARD SPECIFICATIONS (The Easy Way)
Ideally, every broody will have her own private, quiet, predator-proof space apart from the flock. Serious breeders have dedicated coops or broody pens for the purpose of housing broodies. A broody does not need much to do her thing: a dark, cozy spot for the eggs, a food and water station and a location in which to relieve herself. After three weeks, the chicks should hatch and she will keep them warm, show them where the food and water is and protect them from intruders.
I use Kuhl nest pads and liners. They're easy to clean and protect the eggs better than any litter material.
I use Kuhl nest pads and liners. They're easy to clean and protect 
eggs better than any litter material.
The bottom of the nest should be soft so to protect the eggs. The weight of the hen, the shifting of position and jostling of eggs on her way into and out of the nest for 21 days can cause eggs to crack and ultimately kill any live embryo inside. To limit the impact to the eggs, I recommend nest box pads and liners either alone or with straw or shavings on top. While straw isn’t necessary with nest pads, broodies like to arrange their nests and straw gives them the opportunity to work their nesting instinct.

FOOD & WATER
A broody consumes 80% less feed than usual and stops laying eggs while setting. Since layer feed has calcium added for eggshell production, a hen doesn't need layer feed while brooding. I give my broodies chick starter ration since that’s the chicks will eat after they hatch; it's higher in protein and lower in calcium than layer feed, which works well for broodies since they're not laying eggs anyway. Scratch can also be offered to the broody hen as the high carbohydrate content will provide her some extra calories during her three week crash diet. Keep the food and water close to the nest to ensure that less adventurous broodies avail themselves of at least one meal a day.

Fresh, cool water is critical to the health of a broody hen and should be made available at all times. A dehydrated hen can die very quickly.   
Fresh, cool water is critical to the health of a broody hen and should be made available at all times. A dehydrated hen can die very quickly.

HOW MANY EGGS?

A hen can manage to cover and keep warm approximately 12 eggs proportionate to her size, meaning: if she is a bantam, it is reasonable to expect that she can care for 12 bantam sized eggs, fewer if the eggs are from a larger hen. If the broody is a large fowl breed, she can handle 12-15 eggs of the size she would ordinarily lay, more if they are bantam eggs.  Much more about acquisition of and handling of the hatching eggs, here.  
A hen can manage to cover and keep warm approximately 12 eggs proportionate to her size, meaning: if she is a bantam, it is reasonable to expect that she can care for 12 bantam sized eggs, fewer if the eggs are from a larger hen.
MOVING THE BROODY
A broody hen doesn't usually have the good sense to make a reservation for a room in the maternity ward, she usually parks herself inside a coop nest box, which means that she must be moved to the maternity ward, which can be tricky. Some broodies are more attached to their chosen location than others and will protest mightily while trying to return to it if moved. Moving a broody hen is best done at night when she is less likely to be upset by the change of scenery. The feed, water and makeshift run should be in place before the move is made.
Moving a broody hen is best done at night when she is less likely to be upset by the change of scenery. The feed, water and makeshift run should be in place before the move is made.
CANDLING  
Candling is the term used for shining a light through an eggshell to determine whether an embryo is developing or not. The egg candler used in the photo below is a Brinsea Ovascope. Eggs without developing embryos or with embryos that have died should be removed from the hen's nest. Candling eggs should be done after dark if at all, so as to limit the stress to the broody.
 Eggs without developing embryos or with embryos that have died should be removed from the hen's nest.
This egg had begun to develop, but stopped. This is known as a "quitter."
When I candle broody eggs, I do it twice at most, at day 10 and 17. By day 10 any egg that has not begun to develop will be obvious and should be removed. After day 18 the embryo begins to assume the hatching position and should no longer be moved, so I like to candle on day 17 at the latest. The photo below shows what an embryo three days away from hatching looks like from the inside (left) and when candling from the outside (right).
This photo shows what an embryo three days away from hatching looks like from the inside (left) and when candling from the outside (right).
Contrary to popular belief, a hen does not necessarily kick bad eggs out of the nest. Sometimes eggs found outside the nest are viable and sometimes she continues to sit on rotten eggs until the bitter end. I wish I had a nickel for every rotten egg I have discovered in the nest after a hen has left it to care for her brood. I have also rescued more than one developing egg that a broody has kicked out of the nest. When finding an egg outside the nest, it should be candled it to assess its viability and the stage of development and if it’s on track, put back under the broody, under a different broody hen or in an incubator
Rotten eggs can often be detected from a considerable distance and must be removed from the clutch so as not to jeopardize the entire hatch.
I highly recommend performing the sniff test on hatching eggs whenever possible even if it’s just trying to get a whiff while passing by the broody’s nest. Rotten eggs can often be detected from a considerable distance and must be removed from the clutch so as not to jeopardize the entire hatch. More on rotten eggs, here. 

MAINTENANCE
Keep the nest clean and dry. Bacteria plus eggs=dead embryos and rotten eggs. Accidents do happen from broken eggs to poop and soiled nests should be cleaned upon discovery to limit the exposure of bacteria to the eggs. Broodies leave the nest at approximately the same time daily to eat/drink/poop/dust bathe, which is a good time to check and change the bedding.


Nine out of ten times I miss a broody taking her daily break from the nest to eat/drink/poop, but I always watch for broody poop in the yard or coop to be sure she is eating. Some broodies must be physically removed from the nest in order to ensure they are getting the minimum daily intake of water and food. A broody who does not poop has not eaten, which is a hazard to her health. Keep the feed and water near the nest so she doesn't have far to travel to reach it. 

Broodies leave the nest at approximately the same time daily to eat/drink/poop/dust bathe, which is a good time to check and change the bedding.
Brooder with EcoGlow radiant heater instead of a dangerous heat lamp.

BROODER ON STANDBY
Pay attention to the expected date of hatch and begin listening for cheeping chicks any time after day 19. Chicks will begin cheeping inside the egg prior to hatching and at this point, it's prudent to watch the hen for hostility or rejection. Sometime it is necessary to rescue a chick from a broody hen either because the hen attacks, rejects, or abandons them. I always have a brooder set-up ready on hatch day in the event of rejection by the mother hen.
 Sometime it is necessary to rescue a chick from a broody hen either because the hen attacks, rejects, or abandons them. I always have a brooder set-up ready on hatch day in the event of rejection by the mother hen.
FEEDING MOTHER HEN & CHICKS
By providing starter feed in the maternity ward for the broody there are no special preparations required for feeding the chicks. The mother hen will bring them to the feed and water and teach them to eat and drink. 



Chicks do not need grit to digest most commercial starter feeds. Starter feed is designed to be digested by saliva with no need for further grinding with grit in the gizzard. Any time chicks are given treats or fibrous foods or whole grain feed, they should be provided with grit, however. Don’t rush the treats/extras/snacks with chicks. They need every bit of nutrition in their starter feed and treats interfere with a balanced diet.
Any time chicks are given treats or fibrous foods or whole grain feed, they should be provided with grit, however. Don’t rush the treats/extras/snacks with chicks. They need every bit of nutrition in their starter feed and treats interfere with a balanced diet.
The hen will need layer feed approximately a month after hatching since she may begin to lay eggs any time after 5 weeks. It is at that point that most broodies begin to distance themselves from her babies, although there are exceptions. (see Freida below with chicks that are bigger than she and still clinging close to her side)  
Freida tends to spend a lot longer with her chicks than most broodies.
Freida tends to spend a lot longer with her chicks than most broodies. 

I see only two disadvantages to a broody pen: first, there isn't much space  to exercise or dust-bathe unless the broody pen is huge and second, both the broody and the chicks must be integrated into the flock when the chicks are old enough to hold their own with bigger birds, which is more challenging than allowing the broody to raise the chicks from day one within the flock. 

TIPS FOR BROODIES SETTING INSIDE THE COOP
(The Hard Way)
Ideally a broody hen will have a private space in which to hatch eggs in peace, but practically, that is not always possible and often broodies hatch eggs in the coop nest boxes. The challenges of caring for a coop broody (CB) are significant. Laying hens still need to use the coop nest boxes regardless of the presence of a CB and will usually join her in it. This can lead to fighting, injuries and jockeying for position that endangers the eggs’ integrity. Certain accommodations must be made in order to maximize the potential for a successful hatch in the chicken coop nest boxes.
Certain accommodations must be made in order to maximize the potential for a successful hatch in the chicken coop nest boxes.
LAYING HENS
CBs tie up nest boxes that laying hens need to use. Laying hens will frequently join a CB in the nest box, deposit her egg then go on her way, but sometimes a laying hen will bully a CB off her nest eggs. The CB may or may not return to the hatching eggs. A less assertive laying hen may decide to lay her eggs in a less hostile environment outside the coop, sending the chicken-keeper on a daily Easter egg hunt. Neither situation is desirable. It can help to add temporary nest boxes throughout the coop and run for laying hens to use while the usual nests are occupado. A 5 gallon bucket, a shallow cardboard box or an empty pet carrier can all serve as temporary nest boxes.
The temporary next box inside the coop, pictured above, was well used this summer as 90% of my nest boxes were occupied by broody hens causing traffic jams like the one shown below.
Another problem unique to CBs is disappearing eggs. Other hens may abscond with the hatching eggs by tucking them underneath their wings, moving them to another location, or eating them. Gross, but true. There’s not much that can be done about this issue except to remove the CB with her remaining eggs to a maternity ward.
MARK THE EGGS
A CB’s hatching eggs should be marked clearly with a permanent marker or pencil and re-marked if the marks wear off. Marking the eggs makes it clear at a glance which eggs in the nest are hatching eggs and which were recently laid by other hens. Eggs should be collected from the coop at least once a day to remove freshly laid eggs. Check underneath a CB daily for freshly laid eggs. If she is especially ornery, collect them after dark using a flashlight.

NEST HEIGHT
If the CB’s nest is more than 12 inches off the ground, the broody should be moved to a lower, temporary nest inside the coop no later than day 18 (3 days before hatch) for the safety of the chicks.

FEEDING CB & CHICKS

The same feeding guidelines as discussed above apply to CBs and their chicks: keep starter feed nearby with clean, fresh, cool water always available. The laying hens in the coop can eat chick starter or chick starter/grower if necessary, but oyster shell will need to be supplied in a separate hopper. Chicks should never be given layer feed because the added calcium can cause kidney damage, gout and other health problems later in life. 
POST-HATCH
The best part of having a broody hen is watching her raise the chicks. She will teach them to eat and drink and should keep them safe from harm. The behavior of other hens towards the CB and her new chicks should be monitored carefully for the first few days. At any sign of hostility from flock members or if it becomes apparent that the CB is not adequately protecting the chicks, they should all be moved to an enclosure.
Freida and Mabel hatched in tandem nest boxes on the floor inside a dog kennel for 3 weeks,  they went on to raise the chicks together as one big family.
Freida and Mabel hatched in tandem nest boxes on the floor inside a dog kennel for 3 weeks, 
they went on to raise the chicks together as one big family.
Freida and Mabel hatched in tandem nest boxes on the floor inside a dog kennel for 3 weeks,  they went on to raise the chicks together as one big family.
CO-PARENTING
It is not uncommon for two broodies to sit on one clutch of eggs or for two broodies to raise chicks together.
It is not uncommon for two broodies to sit on one clutch of eggs or for two broodies to raise chicks together.
BACK ON TRACK: THE BROODY MOLT
While the chicks are growing, a broody hen will work to rebuild her pre-broody body. She needs to replenish her fat and calcium stores and will likely shed quite a lot of feathers. This feather loss that I call a "broody molt" is the result of malnutrition during the setting period and the return to a normal diet afterwards. The higher protein content in starter feed will help her to regenerate feathers, which is a protein-intensive process. 
While the chicks are growing, a broody hen will work to rebuild her pre-broody body. She needs to replenish her fat and calcium stores and will likely shed quite a lot of feathers.
This was my first experience with a broody molt. I was pretty sure Freida was going into the pillow-making business until I realized the cause of the feather loss was the drastic shift in diet post-hatch.
A broody hen will generally begin to distance herself from her brood approximately 5 or 6 weeks after hatching. She can begin egg-laying any time thereafter.
A broody hen will generally begin to distance herself from her brood approximately 5 or 6 weeks after hatching. She can begin egg-laying any time thereafter.
A broody hen will generally begin to distance herself from her brood approximately 5 or 6 weeks after hatching. She can begin egg-laying any time thereafter.
RANDOM RELEVANT INFO

While some hens will brood several times per year if permitted, serial-brooding should be discouraged due to the physical toll it takes on a hen. 

It is possible for a pullet to go broody before she ever lays her first egg.
It is possible for a pullet to go broody before she ever lays her first egg.
To the extent possible, leave broodies alone. 
One never knows when she will quit the gig mid-stream due to interruptions.
To the extent possible, leave broodies alone. One never knows when she will quit the gig mid-stream due to interruptions.
While I am a proponent of herbs to spruce up the coop and nest boxes, I do not recommend putting fresh herbs inside a broody’s nest. The warmth and humidity generated by a broody can cause the herbs to decay and get moldy, setting up an environment ripe for bacterial growth and embryo death. If interested in using natural pest deterrents during the setting period, stick with dried herbal blends.
 If interested in using natural pest deterrents during the setting period, stick with dried herbal blends.
Disclaimer, The Chicken Chick®
Kathy Shea Mormino, The Chicken Chick®



501 comments :

  1. Cindy Crager8/15/13, 9:03 PM

    Love to when the cartons!! Blog is great!!

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  2. Angel Macias Wiles8/15/13, 9:04 PM

    Very helpful info! Thank you!

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  3. Karen White8/15/13, 9:04 PM

    Would love to win these cartons. Thanks!!

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  4. Tina Favara8/15/13, 9:05 PM

    Another home run blog post...love it!

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  5. thank you again

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  6. TheChickenChick8/15/13, 9:08 PM

    Thank you, Tina. ♥

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  7. Excellent info, as usual. Thanks for all you do!

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  8. JessicaHughett8/15/13, 9:09 PM

    I am currently constructing a broody breaker thanks to one of your post! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wonderful pictures! (Not to mention the amazing giveaways! ) :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Joyce Urban8/15/13, 9:11 PM

    Thank you so much I have a broody girl, we just got our 1st rooster and she will not leave the nesting box. This helps a lot.

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  10. Jenn Werner-Williams8/15/13, 9:13 PM

    Thank you for this! I read your blog to my baby for reading time!

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  11. Gail Presley8/15/13, 9:14 PM

    Love fresh eggs. Would love to win the egg cartons to put the eggs and share with family and friends....I'm am so hooked on your blog....awesomeness!!!!!

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  12. Tina Lilley Mairs8/15/13, 9:17 PM

    great info! Thanks for sharing! Learning lots!

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  13. Your blog is filled with so much useful information. I wish I had read this prior to having a hen hatch four chicks earlier this year. She started with ten eggs and it was her first time. I had no idea what I was doing. I truly need those 100 cartons as I have hens laying 24 eggs/day at this time. We sell the eggs at a local farmers market. Thank you.

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  14. Kristi Sanger Pahlas8/15/13, 9:20 PM

    I learned a few more things thanks to the fantastic blog!! The hen will turn the eggs?? Who knew?!! Thanks Kathy.

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  15. Lots of great useful information

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  16. chickenmomma8/15/13, 9:21 PM

    Great info. I have one just like Freida, her name is Pearl, always going broody. Would love to win the cartons. I sell my eggs and I'm always looking for some. Thanks!

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  17. Vicki Haggerty8/15/13, 9:21 PM

    awesome post great info

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  18. Great article! Timely as I have a coop broody who just hatched 4 eggs. I wish I had known that I could have put more eggs under her. I put 9 under her, 1 was not fertilized, 3 were quitters, and 1 disappeared! Feather sexing the chicks makes me think she hatched 4 roosters, so I hope I'm wrong! Thanks for sharing your expertise with us newbies!

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  19. I could use these

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  20. Tracy Angus-DarkHuntress8/15/13, 9:25 PM

    thanks for all the great info and tips you share.. Larry is still crowing strong waiting for his new home.

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  21. Tonya Kelley-Parks8/15/13, 9:26 PM

    Excellent post! Thank you for all the great info! And, I would love the egg cartons, then I wouldn't have to store all my eggs in one basket.... LOL

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  22. winning the cartons would be frosting, the cake you serve up in your blogs is better than sweet treats. Thank you for great articles.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Erin Stewart8/15/13, 9:29 PM

    Love your blog! I have a broody who is about 6 weeks out of raising her chicks and we were discussing tonight how long she would keep at it.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Cyn Van Antwerp8/15/13, 9:31 PM

    more wonderful info! thanks!

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  25. Kellie Pittsley8/15/13, 9:32 PM

    Love all the info!!!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Elizabeth Sherrill8/15/13, 9:33 PM

    Great article! I know why you're so tired after writing it. That's a lot of information.

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  27. You've outdone yourself with this one. Very informative - thanks!

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  28. Becky Rathjen8/15/13, 9:36 PM

    would love to win 100 egg cartons. Good article on broody hens. Thanks for posting.

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  29. Melissa Grover8/15/13, 9:36 PM

    excellent source of a ton of information, great blog!

    (only thing I'd not is a typo in the first paragraph "eggs in anincubator in my kitchen" )

    Thank you yet again Kathy! ^^

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  30. Stephanie Bedard8/15/13, 9:40 PM

    I just love all of the information you share with us! Thank you sooo much!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you So much for all the information,

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  32. I absolutely love your blog! Thank You for so much time devoted to educating us all.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Krystal Stone8/15/13, 9:48 PM

    Very helpful a lot of information in one post.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Darlene Beckett Anderson8/15/13, 9:59 PM

    Wonderful information! thank you ;-)

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  35. Great post! I could use those egg cartons, my friends love eggs but seem to have a hard time returning the cartons!

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  36. Melanie Bryan Heusser8/15/13, 10:04 PM

    Great blog post!!!!

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  37. Wonderful! Well worth the time it took you to write this!

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  38. Great article! I have hatched before but always with an incubator but I do hope my silkie goes broody next year (she is young and just started laying) and hatches a few chicks of her own! I do have a duck sitting on 4 eggs right now that are due to hatch the 21st. She is a Khaki Campbell and everything I ever read about them says they are never broody so when she decided to nest I was thrilled. I had tried hatch some of her eggs before in the incubator but they were not fertile (I had an issue with the ducks, their drake and a rogue rooster). I candled these and 4 have developed! Unfortunately she would only nest on her coup floor and refused to be moved.

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  39. Great job!! Can always use cartons :)

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  40. Really Good Info. Thanks So Much For The Time You Out Into Providing All Of This Information.

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  41. Love the blog! My hubby and I would love to win the egg cartons! We have 14 hens that just started laying. :)

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  42. Thanks for the great information

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  43. Randy Francis8/15/13, 10:15 PM

    Good job!

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  44. angela lashley8/15/13, 10:28 PM

    Thanks for the great blog post! I now have 6 Silkies and an Australorp that I keep an eye on in case they go broody on me.

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  45. Laura Aderholdt8/15/13, 10:28 PM

    I am new to raising chickens and was excited to find you on facebook. I have learned a great deal from your blogs. I just wanted to thank you for your efforts and I am sure my babies thank you too.

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  46. Terrific info, thank you!

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  47. Robin Willoughby8/15/13, 10:37 PM

    I LOVE chickens! I don't have my own...YET! But I watch my landlady's chickens all day out of the window of my pottery studio on her small farm. They are fat and sassy and beautiful! And winning the egg cartons would be a huge help for her! We chat all the time about what chickens need and do. It's the same reason I read your blog....someday I'll have my OWN chickens!!

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  48. Linda Marinoski8/15/13, 10:41 PM

    awesome :)

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  49. Eilene Corcoran8/15/13, 10:51 PM

    great post!

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  50. Rebecca Kober8/15/13, 10:59 PM

    I would love to win the egg cartons - the littles are laying now and I am getting lots of wonderful eggs!! :) thanks for the broody info!

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  51. Thanks for all your work for OUR education!

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  52. Jessica Dowdy8/15/13, 11:07 PM

    Thank you, this couldn't have come at a better time for me, as I have my first broody. She's been sitting on her eggs for a week now. I wear gloves to take her food and water because she fiercely protects her eggs! I have been trying to decide what to do because the coop that she's in is about a foot off the ground. I think I'm just going to leave her alone, and get my husband to build a wider ramp that chicks can easily use.
    Anyway, thank you again, this has been very helpful!
    Oh, and I could definitely use those egg cartons!

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  53. Wow,great blog, you rocked it!!!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Laura Windham8/15/13, 11:22 PM

    Great info. Thanks for the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Tina Williams Schroeder8/15/13, 11:24 PM

    Great information. Would love to win the cartons!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Lisa Dowdy Lampman8/15/13, 11:26 PM

    My girls have not even started laying yet (15 weeks) and I am already looking forward to possibly hatching some next spring!! We have two Astralorps, so hoping they aren't too broody!! Will they attempt to hatch eggs in the winter, too?

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  57. Thanks for the good info!

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  58. Allison Phillips8/15/13, 11:41 PM

    Learning so much! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  59. farming mamma8/16/13, 12:27 AM

    Thank you so much for all the information and wonderful pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  60. Raven Locks8/16/13, 1:02 AM

    Really great info! I love coming to your site because I learn something new at every post. I used to think I knew a lot about chickens...I'm humbled to learn so much from you, Kathy!


    PS. I don't think I ever thanked you for a giveaway a month or two ago. I won the bobcat urine. THANKS A BUNCH :) My chickens are much safer now.


    And here's hoping I win this giveaway! ;)


    xo Azu

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  61. Julie Denise Dunk Liberti8/16/13, 1:07 AM

    We've had 6 broody hens this year. 4 have hatched eggs. Now the first 2 broodies are ready to go again. But alas we are done for the year. I have used your broody breaker method a couple of times & it does work. Some hens take a few extra days over others. Thanks for the great info & the egg carton giveaway!

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  62. Really helpful information...thank you!

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  63. AngelEyes898/16/13, 1:32 AM

    Great Post!

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  64. Gina Cara Van Dusen8/16/13, 2:32 AM

    Wonderful blog! Very informative. Dang! Those chickens are so cute!

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  65. Fantastic info, only wish I had it sooner. We muddled through just fine by letting mama do her thing in a what we call our hospital ward. Wow, was she protective of those babies but they are all blending together now. She started laying again at 8 wks and now sleeps with the big girls. The youngsters are still in their separate pen at night because they but co-mingle during the day with no problems and as soon as they're a little bigger will be moving into the coop at night too. Mama lost nearly all her feathers after the hatch and her new feathers came back better than ever, she's the prettiest girl in the yard! This has been the easiest way to raise hatchlings and so interesting.

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  66. cathyspears8/16/13, 4:10 AM

    thanks for opportunity to win egg cartons.

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  67. Toodles' Mom8/16/13, 5:50 AM

    Another very helpful blog post! I appreciate all the good info. sally.flood@ ameritech.net

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  68. Love the post!

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  69. I'm definitely saving this blog! I had a hen go broody a couple weeks ago, and with my inexperience I broke her from setting. All in all the best outcome as no eggs were fertile....

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  70. Cindy Mollohan Littlejohn8/16/13, 8:13 AM

    I need some egg cartons...I get at least 15 eggs each day. dragonfly4044@hotmail.com

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  71. Great info. Saving for future read when needed. Haven't had a broody yet they are 16mo.
    poochs@hotmail.com

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  72. Cherish Leppert Holland8/16/13, 8:32 AM

    Awesome article very informative!! Thank you Kathy! We have 2 incubators and purchased 3 silkies just for their broodiness,my husband calls them our walking incubators! What other breeds are extremely broody? I know leghorns rarely go broody and have read that Buff Orps are sneaky when it comes to hiding their nest.....read that one BO duel nested and ending up hatching 17/21 eggs from 2 hidden nests.

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  73. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 8:57 AM

    LOL, Jenn! That must lull her right to sleep! :D

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  74. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 8:58 AM

    Thanks Bj. ;)

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  75. Debbie_Bruening8/16/13, 9:04 AM

    This is a great post. I always love your pictures and humorous choice of words! Please enter me in the free egg carton drawing!

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  76. Sarah Eller8/16/13, 9:36 AM

    Wow, nicely done. :)

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  77. Enjoyed your article, I have 2 hens that have been broody for about 3 months, can't seem to get out of their mood. Then in our Leghorn pen, 2 hens have become broody and Leghorns don't get broody usually. We've had white Leghorns for years, this is a first. So your information has been very helpful. Thanks again. Marcie marringt@gmail.com

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  78. I asked you a while back what you did with all your eggs. Now I know....I can't believe how many friends, co-workers etc. want my hens' eggs! But I need more cartons!!! Thanks!

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  79. Jenn Werner-Williams8/16/13, 10:19 AM

    He seems to enjoy it! He will be a great chicken keeper before he can walk!!!!

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  80. Christy Amburgey Asn8/16/13, 10:52 AM

    I'm so happy you did a blog on this! Just broke my first broody.....and yes it is contagious! Broody central over here...lots of naked bellys!

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  81. Pamela Brooking Harris8/16/13, 10:56 AM

    This was amazing to read! Thank you so much for the information. My 4 babies are a little over 4 months old now and I can't wait for them to start having eggs. I'm excited! I would love to be able to have 2 of my Buff Cochins have babies. Thank you!

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  82. Evelyn Qualls8/16/13, 11:00 AM

    I have never had a hen go broody. We collect eggs 4 times a day! i could really use the egg cartons. After reading this article, I feel that I am prepared in the event that one of our hens does go broody.I would love the experience; it would be a first for me. Thanks Kathy for all the terrific information. @Hillside Happy Hens

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  83. I love your blog! I've learned so very much from you! I was able to treat leg mites successfully because of your terrific advice! Thank you!

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  84. Very good info! My hens are nearly to laying age, so I'm sure I will encounter this at some point!



    The egg cartons would be great for collecting eggs!

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  85. You can never have too many egg cartons!

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  86. Ashley Capps8/16/13, 11:21 AM

    Love your site! :D

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  87. Jennifer Path8/16/13, 11:23 AM

    Another great giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity to win these egg cartons! I could certainly use them.

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  88. Micah Fenton8/16/13, 11:24 AM

    Love all the info!!

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  89. hannahking008/16/13, 11:26 AM

    I love all of these tips! Thanks for all the giveaways and info!

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  90. This is extremely helpful and very timely for me!

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  91. Good post, as usual!

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  92. Carolynn Popp8/16/13, 11:56 AM

    When is the best time of day to sneak day old chicks under a broody?

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  93. I learned to break broodiness HERE!! Thanx Chicken Chick!!!

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  94. Love the blog!!

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  95. Michele Summer Daae8/16/13, 12:31 PM

    Excited about the possibilities of some new egg cartons.
    Loved this article. High valued content. Will print out to place in my chicken binder. Great, usable information about broody chickens.

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  96. We are ordering 25 new chicks this month SO these REALLY will come in handy ;-) Thank You for ALL of your Great Giveaways Kathy!!!!!!

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  97. Thanks for the great egg carton giveaway ... please enter me.

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  98. Bonnie Schlautmann8/16/13, 12:57 PM

    No broody yet but I will be saving this for the future.

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  99. I can always use egg cartons! Great article on broody hens. I tried to hatch my first chicks with a broody hen but the eggs weren't viable so I bought day old chicks to substitute for the eggs one night and it worked perfectly. Ezzie was a perfect mother, accepting the chicks as her own from the get go.


    oldboss_2000@yahoo.com

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  100. Wonderful information! Broodies sure do become different creatures!

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  101. Arliss Friend-Wells8/16/13, 1:00 PM

    Love the info! My pullets should start laying in a few weeks, so the eg cartons would come in handy.

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  102. Great post, lots of information.

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  103. Kathryn Wetzel8/16/13, 1:32 PM

    Love reading everything you write about! Would love some of there egg cartons too�� thanks so much!

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  104. These would be perfect! Started selling eggs to co-workers and friends and I'm running out of places to put the eggs!!!! :) Love the blog!

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  105. You're right- epic post! I hope not to have this prob, but will turn to you (as always) if it comes up.
    Lovin' on those cartons, btw; prize me!

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  106. Michelle Chun8/16/13, 2:41 PM

    My Golden Buff just laid her very first egg yesterday! So would love to win the egg cartons.

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  107. Lolita Hestand8/16/13, 2:44 PM

    Very interesting article, especially since I hate my first clutch with a brooder about a month ago and have another brooder setting on a clutch of eggs right now!!!! Had to learn the hard way about some of the tips/tricks provided here. Now I have a maternity ward and everything!!!

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  108. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 2:46 PM

    Thanks Jessie!

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  109. Thank you for the broody chicken info. You help me more than you know. Thank you for all you do, and now I feel confident over broody control. Well as much control as the hen will allow. Have a blessed day!

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  110. I absolutely love your blog, everytime I have any problem with my girls your blog is always the first place I come. I have recently hatched 10 babies and they are all doing great from the advice I get from your blog, im always learning more and more! Thanks

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  111. Kasi Flores8/16/13, 3:22 PM

    We have been lucky to not have any hens go broody on us but now I say this one will go.

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  112. Laura Graham8/16/13, 3:57 PM

    Great post with lots of important info. You are always right on target. Thanks for finding an egg carton sponsor. They would come in handy.

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  113. Thanks for your informative blog...all this time I thought I was the only one with a homicidal hen! ...and those egg cartons would be put to good use here with the new girls starting to lay..

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  114. Valarie Rude8/16/13, 4:31 PM

    Can a person really have too many egg cartons? I think NOT!! Thanks for the great information!

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  115. great info..
    the worst part of hatching is the exploding eggs if you hatch enough it will happen..alway wear protective eyewear when checking eggs.

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  116. Emma Pattee8/16/13, 5:11 PM

    Thanks for the post!

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  117. Every chicken owner needs more egg cartons! Thanks! graceinapril@gmail.com

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  118. belinda jones8/16/13, 6:00 PM

    The article is excellent; a great source of information. Thank you!

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  119. Joyce Zaleski8/16/13, 6:39 PM

    Absolutely wonderful blog post and so informative and helpful. Thanks so much for all your hard work.

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  120. I give away eggs to neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family members. I can always use more. Thank you for your information and ability to win prizes.

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  121. Carrie Beuerlein8/16/13, 7:01 PM

    You have such valuable insight on all of your post.

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  122. Lots of great info--thanks!

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  123. Janell Bradley8/16/13, 8:26 PM

    Great information if I ever decide to let one of my broody hens sit on eggs (at present I don't have a rooster.) Would love to win the egg cartons as I have 26 new pullets that should come into laying any day!

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  124. I run about 4 cartons short every week and more chicks on the way :)

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  125. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 8:45 PM

    Thank you, Carrie. I hope it helps!

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  126. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 8:46 PM

    Let me know how it works out for you, Jessica!

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  127. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 8:46 PM

    Aw, thanks Carolyn. :)

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  128. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 8:47 PM

    Thank you Tomi. ♥

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  129. Dawn E. Sarver8/16/13, 8:47 PM

    love your blog! would love to win! right now gonna go read about broody hens. none of mine have ever gone broody, dont know why.

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  130. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 8:48 PM

    Thanks Elizabeth. I've been working on it for quite some time. My hens have taught me a lot about broodiness, but so much of their behavior is still a major mystery!

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  131. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 8:49 PM

    Thanks for the proof-reading, Melissa! (and I can't let this one go...the only thing I would note is that the "note" in your note reads "not." LOL!) Hee hee.

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  132. Laura Aderholdt8/16/13, 8:52 PM

    Hoping one of mine will brood

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  133. Laura Beard8/16/13, 8:55 PM

    I would very happy to have new cartons. I have had no Brody hens after a year of laying.

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  134. enjoy the blogs and could use some egg cartons. thanks

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  135. Kryss Jackson8/16/13, 9:10 PM

    Lots of good information. Definitely some food for thought and some ideas for next year when I'll try again with hatching eggs via chicken.

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  136. Linda Powell8/16/13, 9:28 PM

    I truly enjoy your posts!

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  137. I need some nice egg cartons. Hope to win them here.

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  138. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 9:35 PM

    Thank you Laura. It's nice to have you here and with me on Facebook too!

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  139. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 9:35 PM

    Good for you, Robin. I hope it's sooner rather than later. :)

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  140. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 9:36 PM

    Some breeds will, Lisa. Freida certainly doesn't take season into account!

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  141. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 9:36 PM

    Thanks Azu!

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  142. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 9:37 PM

    Thanks Sarah. ♥

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  143. Larkin Correia8/16/13, 9:41 PM

    Great info Kathy! I have a hen setting and should have some hatching on 8/21. Can't wait!

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  144. kschickygirl8/16/13, 9:47 PM

    thanks for the info about broodie's i did not know you could feed the hens chick feed, do you use medicated ? do need more egg cartons

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  145. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:08 PM

    Thank you, Pamela!

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  146. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:09 PM

    I'm so happy to hear it, Robin!

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  147. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:09 PM

    I do it a few hours after nightfall.

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  148. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:10 PM

    Thank you, Michele!

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  149. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:12 PM

    I'm still recovering from it. ;)

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  150. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:12 PM

    Congratulations Michelle!

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  151. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:13 PM

    I had to learn the hard way about most of them too, Lolita!

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  152. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:13 PM

    Thanks Ellen. :)

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  153. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:15 PM

    Congratulations on your new babies, Beki!

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  154. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:18 PM

    Thanks Belinda. :)

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  155. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:19 PM

    Woo-hoo! Send pics, Larkin!

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  156. TheChickenChick8/16/13, 10:19 PM

    No, I do not use medicated chick starter.

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  157. Charlotte Reed8/16/13, 10:35 PM

    Love all the information I learn on your blog posts

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  158. One of my Leghorns kept going broody this year, and I was thinking of letting her hatch some eggs. What is the latest in the year you let them hatch before winter sets in?

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  159. Amanda Caldwell8/16/13, 10:59 PM

    Great article, thanks :) I can always use more egg cartons!

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  160. Melissa Grover8/16/13, 11:08 PM

    rofl!!! XD do as I say, not as I do!! I blame it on incubator insomnia :3

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  161. What a great informative article! I'm just getting into chickens this year and started letting the hens sit on their eggs! Silkies here we come! Great info! Thank you!

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  162. Pegg Greenan8/16/13, 11:26 PM

    Love all of your posts & pictures. BTW my shirt came in today - love it.

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  163. Katie Brown Stafford8/16/13, 11:48 PM

    My flock is getting ready for first eggs...so maybe next year for babies, I will refer back!

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  164. Larkin Correia8/17/13, 12:22 AM

    Will do!

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  165. Very informative

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  166. Thanks, they are getting very big now! They are so cute and watching them dustbathe in some soil is hilarious bless them

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  167. Ali Nazario8/17/13, 7:49 AM

    I would love to win the cartons :)

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  168. Thank you for all your great posts!!! I'm new at this and I have learned a ton from your site and blog. Would love the egg cartons!! I think once all of my girlz start laying, we will go through cartons quickly!! Can't wait!!!

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  169. JessicaHughett8/17/13, 11:28 AM

    I cannot thank you enough! Your post are so insightful and inspiring. You've inspired me to start taking more chicken photos!
    This is one of my rescue chicks that is slowly getting her feathers after a lot of TLC. :-)

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  170. I could use some cartons...Thanks

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  171. Thank you for all the useful information. I can always use egg cartons.

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  172. Jessica Stegman8/17/13, 1:40 PM

    Subscribed (for a LONG time now!) and commenting! Would LOVE to win some egg cartons!

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  173. Nicole Batzle Mobus8/17/13, 1:41 PM

    Thanks for the info!!! Love everything you post

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  174. As always, greaty info!

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  175. Sabrina Nicander8/17/13, 1:44 PM

    Great omfp...thx!

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  176. Although I am not hatching any eggs I find the informaton interesting and will become useful when I do decide to. BTW I could use some egg cartons. ;)

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  177. I could definatly use these !

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  178. Diane Ayers8/17/13, 1:51 PM

    Great information! Thanks!

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  179. Scott Mills8/17/13, 1:53 PM

    Come on Cartons! Good broody article.

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  180. Heather Warnock8/17/13, 1:54 PM

    I didn't realize australorps were on the best momma list! Here I was putting all my hopes and dreams for broodiness on one little silkie haha :)
    Great article!

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  181. Debra Huff White8/17/13, 1:58 PM

    Love the blog, need the cartons :)

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  182. Elizabeth Flippo8/17/13, 2:00 PM

    Great information once again....thank u so much for the knowledge :)

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  183. Great info I have one hen who is a chronic broody hen I need to work on her

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  184. Laura Pasicznyk-Abdnor8/17/13, 2:03 PM

    We have had a broody hen for a year now!!! I guess that is her job in the chicken world. :) Would love to have some new egg cartons!!

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  185. We always need cartons :)

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  186. Kathryn Wetzel8/17/13, 2:08 PM

    Love love all you di����

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  187. Jim Henegar8/17/13, 2:08 PM

    You have been a big help in getting us started with chickens, thank you for all the free information you put forth :) Have a blessed day

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  188. Jim Henegar8/17/13, 2:09 PM

    Thanks for helping us get started with chickens. You have been a tremendous help.

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  189. Great info! Can't wait for a broody of my own!

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  190. Amanda McFarland8/17/13, 2:13 PM

    ..running low on egg cartons, would love to win those! :D :D

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  191. What an awesome prise

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  192. Would love the egg cartons!!!

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  193. Pam Waltz Ellis8/17/13, 2:23 PM

    I love the design of your broody breaker pen. I have silkies and cochins so we always have someone going broody. i have limited success with a pen break but I will be redesigning to have a better pen. Thanks for sharing.

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  194. Sandie Moore8/17/13, 2:23 PM

    Thanks so much for the info, it is always so useful and very interesting!

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  195. I could sure use some egg cartons. Thanks for your give-aways and all your helpful info!

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  196. Virgie Hinson8/17/13, 2:27 PM

    ohhhhh- egg cartons-my 9 will be laying soon and they would be wonderful-great article-thanks

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  197. jubileemaid8/17/13, 2:33 PM

    Great article about broody hens. Have used your method very successfully.

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  198. Lisa Butler8/17/13, 2:35 PM

    I love reading your post and I learn so much from them. I really enjoy my chickens they are so much fun to take care of

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  199. I really love all your pictures. I share your love of chickens. Just like all animals each one has its very own personality. Keep up good work. :)

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