A dark, well ventilated, quite place without much disturbance is preferred by all hens for the purpose of brooding. A basket with a mouth dimension of 45-50 cm is most commonly used in the villages. A broad mouthed mud pot broken horizontally just below the shoulders and kept mouth downwards supported by bricks at the bottom to prevent tilting, is also used by some people. A cheap packing case about 2 ft long, 2 ft broad and 1 ft high, is also very handy as a nest.
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The container must be half filled with moist sand and covered on top with cut straw, paddy husk or saw dust. Some wood ash may be spread on top and pressed to form a compact base with shallow depression. Wood ash also acts as a disinfectant to prevent ants and lice. Sulphur powder mixed with wood ash, sodium flouride and tobacco dust can be dusted on the container to keep off vermin.
The nest must be more or less circular with a shallow depression at the centre to hold the eggs together. It should be deep as there is the possibility of the eggs rolling to the centre and breaking.
Best time to start hatching
The best time to raise chicken altogether depends upon the climate in which they are to be raised. July, August and September are the most favorable months for raising chicken in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh because of low rainfall and suitable room temperature. Before July the heat is more and after September the winter starts and is much cold. Both the conditions are unfavourable for chicken.
In places like Simla, Nainital, Darjeeling and other hill areas where the cold is severe during winter and summer is moist, March, April, May and June are the favourable months for raising chicken.
In West Bengal and other places where there are no hot winds, chicken can be most successfully raised from October to end of March.
Best time to set hen
The best time to set a hen is at night, as at this time she is more likely to settle down. Besides, when eggs are put under the hen at night the chicken are more likely to hatch out on the night of the 21st day, and will have the whole night to rest and gain strength.
Setting the eggs for hatching
Ordinarily 10-15 average size hen's eggs can be placed under one broody hen. After the hen settles down, she has to be watched for sometime. She will slowly' keep all the eggs under her chest, cover them well with her spread out wings and sit on them comfortably.
When the eggs are in their normal position, the yolk containing the germ (embryo) comes to the top because of lower specific gravity than the albumen (white). Thus a sitting hen transmits her body temperature through the eggs to the yolk (germ). After the hen returns from rest. she is invariably seen to shuffle the eggs by which the object of turning is accomplished. If the eggs remain in the same position without being shuffled, there is the possibility of the developing embryo sticking to one side of the shell and consequently death of the embryo.