Articles about Raising and Breeding Chickens

Baby chick visible at day 19

Hatching Chicks in an Incubator

Once you’ve gained some experience raising chickens, I recommend starting to hatch eggs. You can perpetuate your chickens by hatching eggs from your own flock rather than buy chicks every few years. It’s interesting and enjoyable, and you can learn a lot in the process. Hatching and raising chicks from eggs from your own flocks…

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A broody hen and her chicks

Hatching Under a Broody Hen

Certain times during the year, particularly during the spring, some of your hens may go broody. Some breeds of chickens (and certain strains) are more prone toward broodiness than others. What is broodiness? It’s when a hen decides to sit on eggs to hatch them. Her body goes through certain hormonal changes, and her behavior…

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How do you figure out which hens are laying?

If you aren’t getting as many eggs as you know you should be getting from your flock, how do you tell which hens are laying and which ones aren’t? There are a number of different ways to tell, some practical and some not so practical. I’ll go over the most accurate approach and then the…

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black australorp chicks

How to Get Started Breeding Chickens

If you want to start breeding chickens in order to perpetuate your flock, where is the best place to start? There are several possibilities: hatch fertile eggs — get eggs from a breeder and begin hatching those buy adult birds — get adult (already laying) hens and a rooster from a breeder, begin hatching eggs…

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black australorp chicks

What Are Straight-Run Chickens?

Straight-run simply means that you’re getting the chickens “as-hatched.” No attempt has been made to determine the gender of the chickens. Some people assume that straight-run means half the chickens will be males and half females, but that’s not necessarily the case. When you hatch chicks, they may come out 50-50, but you could also…

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Black Australorp Rooster

Selecting Chickens for Breeding

January to mid-February, is a good time to begin selecting your breeders. It’s important to do this early in the year so that you have time to move your breeding pairs into separate pens several weeks ahead of when you will begin gathering eggs to hatch. In this article, I’ll go over how to select…

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black australorp eggs

When do Black Australorps Start Laying Eggs

When I’ve hatched Black Australorps in Spring and early Summer (April through June), I’ve found that they typically start to lay their first eggs at around 6-7 months of age. Some of that, I believe, has to do with the exact time of year that they reach maturity, though I don’t yet have enough data…

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Black Australorp Roosters

Are Black Australorp Roosters Aggressive?

Are Black Australorp Roosters Aggressive Toward People? In our flock, we’ve never had any serious problems with Black Australorp roosters becoming aggressive toward humans. Our roosters have nearly all had good temperament and are easy to manage. We often pick up and handle the roosters. That said, I think this has as much to do…

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Improving and Perpetuating Your Small Flock

Chickens are remarkable. They produce fresh food in family-sized portions, both meat and eggs. They’re adaptable to a wide range of climates and varied purposes. Their manure, properly managed, can build your land’s soil fertility. They’re excellent foragers. And they’re easy to take care of. Once you’ve begun to raise a flock and have mastered…

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Black Australorp Hen

How to Maintain a Productive Laying Flock

In this article, based on a talk that I’ve given for several years at the Homestead Fair, I’ll give you a basic framework and some techniques to help you keep a productive laying flock. This is written for small-scale production, on a family homestead or small farm, not for large-scale commercial egg laying. What does…

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Black Australorp Rooster

Selective Breeding of Chickens

What is Selective Breeding? Selective breeding is, simply put, breeding with the intent of accomplishing some type of goal. Usually, the goal is multi-faceted. It takes into account various traits, the overall health and vigor of the chicken, the reasons you have for raising the chickens and the way (and place) in which you are…

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black australorp rooster

A Clarification about Selective Breeding

I think it’s important to clarify something about selective breeding because it has, to some degree, gotten a bad rap. Some people take issue with selective breeding because it is an approach that has enabled breeders to produce factory-raised broiler chickens with unnaturally high growth rates and finished size—chickens that can even have difficulty supporting…

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black australorp males

How We Got Started Breeding Black Australorps

My family and I began breeding Black Australorps in 2015. We started with a flock of about 100 Black Australorp chicks. I chose Black Australorps for several reasons: They are good layers (they’re known for being the most prolific heritage breed layer). They are large birds that are good for meat production I knew of…

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GQF Incubators

How Long Does it Take for Chicken Eggs to Hatch

It takes about 21 days for chicken eggs to hatch, once you start incubating them in an egg incubator or after you place them under a broody hen. When I’ve incubated eggs from our flocks in a styrofoam table-top incubator, typically some eggs will hatch at 21 days, but some eggs will still be hatching…

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