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Help with my new baby chick please!!!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi all
I have never bred chickens before so im like a new mum today! I have two broody hens who have been sitting on a fair few eggs. Well finally one hatched today and im so excited and anxious as well.

I know i need to leave it up to nature but im not sure what i need to do for my part. The chickens made their nest in a cardboard box inside the coop. The sides aren't high but the baby chicks wont be able to get out.

Sorry if these are silly questions but....
Is there any special food i should get for the chicks?
Do i need to keep an eye out on the chicks for signs of anything? Ie mother pecking it
Do i need to add more shavings to the box or around the box and cut one side down so the chick can get out and move around? Or it is too early yet?

Thanks in advance
post #2 of 5

Get chick starter and make it available to both moms and chicks. The moms will encourage their babies to eat when the time is right. Water should be provided that the chicks can reach, but place marbles or rocks in the tray so the chicks won't drown should they stumble into it. Chicks are extremely accident prone during this first week. Try to eliminate anything where they can get trapped or squashed. Make sure any fencing has smaller mesh around the bottom so tiny, curious heads can't fit through and end up being scalped by a curious adult chicken on the other side. (This happened to a baby chick I had, and I learned this lesson the hard way.)


The broodies and chicks should be protected from the rest of the flock, but keep a close eye on them to be sure there's no competition between them for the chicks.


Ideally, the nests the babies are in should be ground level, with sides not so high the chicks can't get out or back in. Yes, I would cut out at least one side of the boxes. Baby chicks aren't able to make jumps higher than just a few inches during the first few days. By one week, they will be getting quite agile, however.


Here's a tip. Grab a hunk of sod from your yard with the dirt securely still attached to the roots, and place it where the chicks will have access to it. During the first week, their immune systems are very receptive to good organisms in the soil that will colonize their guts and get them off to a really good start, and you won't have to worry about when and how to supply grit.


Then relax. The broody hens will know what to do, and the chicks will do the rest.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thank you Azygous. One last question.. another chick just hatched but is laying there chirping. Are the hens supposed to cover it and keep it warm? Or leave it as they are laying on other eggs?
post #4 of 5

There may be an occasional chick that needs to be scooted under the hen. Just gently slip the little feller under her. Keep an eye out that she doesn't scoot it back out. If there's something wrong with the chick, broodies have been known to reject it.

post #5 of 5
We do this so many different ways it’s impossible to say what is the best way. A lot of different things work. I basically provide food and water where the chicks can get to it after the hen brings the chick off the nest. The hen does everything else.

One problem with water at a low level is that chickens scratch a lot. If that water is on the coop floor and you have bedding, the water soon gets filled with bedding unless you are using a nipple system or some other method to stop that. I use a fairly shallow dog bowl but set that on a piece of cardboard or plywood on top of the bedding. That keeps the water a lot cleaner but you have to keep that cardboard clean. I put rocks in it to keep chicks from drowning.

Growing chicks should not eat Layer feed because of the high calcium content. There are plenty of studies that show the calcium levels in Layer can cause damage to the growing chick. But your laying hens need the extra calcium for their egg shells. The way I get around this dilemma is to feed every chicken a low calcium feed, (Starter, Grower, Flock Raiser, something like that) and offer oyster shell on the side. The chickens that need the calcium for their egg shells seem instinctively to know to eat it while the ones that are not laying don’t eat enough to harm themselves.

I’ve seen a broody hen get her chicks to jump into a nest (not the one they hatched in) about a foot off the coop floor. That’s really rare though. Most of the time my broody hens take their chicks to a corner of the coop to spend the night. I saw another hen try that but all her chicks didn’t make it so she abandoned the nest and went to a coop corner.

I don’t know how high the sides of that cardboard nest are, but trimming it so the chicks can get out might be a good idea. I don’t take my hens and chicks out of the nests, I let Mama decide when it is time to abandon the nest and take her chicks to food and water. Sometimes that is within 24 hours of the first one hatching, sometimes it’s more than three days later. The hen knows when the hatch is over and it’s time to take the chicks off the nest. If you started all the eggs at the same time the hen can handle this. If you staggered when the eggs were started you might have some issues with this.

Hens have been hatching and raising chicks with the flock for thousands of years. You are dealing with living animals so bad things can happen, but bad things can happen no matter what you do. I generally leave my broody to raise the chicks with the flock but if the coop is crowded I may move them to another shelter in the run for a couple of days then turn them loose with the flock. The hen will take them back to that shelter at night. If I don’t do that she takes them back into the coop.

This is just the way I do it. I’ve never lost a chick to any adult flock member doing this. You’ll find plenty of people that isolate broody hens during incubation, some that isolate the broody and chicks while she is raising them, and all kinds of variations. There are pros and cons of all of those methods. I find how much room they have makes a difference. Mama needs a little room to work, but if your space is too tight for a broody hen to raise her chicks with the flock you are probably going to have integration issues later.

Congratulations on the hatch. Whichever way you decide to go you are in for an adventure. Watching a broody hen with her chicks is better than anything on cable or satellite.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.


"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith


When you come to a fork in the road, take it.


"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

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