Farmers are usually cautious about using new technologies before they are sure of the benefits they will bring. They often adapt new ideas rather than adopting the whole technology.
Few grassroots farmers use the new technology of artificial incubators. Incubators are expensive and require electricity or fuel. Instead, they use natural incubation by a mother hen.
Normally it takes a broody hen three weeks to hatch out eggs. The chicks stay with the hen until they are old enough to find their own food. It is many months before the mother hen begins to lay eggs again.
Here is a simple idea, which will shorten the time taken for the hen to begin laying again. Allow the hen to hatch out the eggs and to look after the chicks for two weeks. This length of time allows the chicks to adapt to their new environment and build up some disease resistance. The two weeks also allow the hen to rest and regain energy. The mother and chicks should be provided with plenty of food during this time. After the two weeks, take the chicks away from the hen and place them in a large basket. Place sawdust or dried grass on the floor and use a hurricane lamp to provide heat.
(CAUTION: fire hazard!) Provide plenty of food, water and fresh green leaves. When the chicks are a few weeks old, allow them to leave the basket and scratch for food, preferably in a pen or room to protect them from predators.
The hen, thinking she has lost the chicks, will begin laying again after just a week or so. It is likely she will lay even more eggs to increase the survival chances of the new chicks. Within two months she is likely to have laid and hatched out another clutch of eggs. Make sure that good, nutritious food is available for both hen and chicks.
Bodzewan Blasius Kongnuy Murudev-Bamenda c/o Mr Bime Patrick CNPS Box 487 Bamenda Cameroon.