Originally Posted by Ridgerunner
I do it differently. You will see really quickly that there are a lot of different ways to do this. I’ve seen a hen get her newly hatched chicks out of a ten feet high hay loft. Mama flies to the ground, tells them to jump, and they do, then they bounce up and run to her. I personally see no reason to move them to the ground, I just let Mama take care of things.
One potential problem with that is if the nest is so small that the hen sits right on the edge the chicks might fall out. The chicks that hatch first often like to climb up on Mama’s back while she is hatching the late comers. If she is tight to the edge they may miss the nest and fall to the floor. Looking at your nests I don’t see any potential for that at all. I’m mentioning this for other people’s benefit.
I generally let mine hatch with the flock and raise them with the flock. I do not isolate them when they are incubating, just mark the eggs with a Sharpie and check under them every evening to remove any eggs that don’t belong. As long as you remove any new eggs daily you can still use them. If the main coop is really crowded I may move the hen and chicks to an outside coop for a couple of days after she brings them off the nest. After a couple of days she will take them back there at night. The only reason I’d do that is if the main coop is crowded. Otherwise I put food and water where the chicks can get to it and let Mama take care of things. She normally takes them to a corner of the coop to spend the night on the floor. I’ve never lost a chick to another adult flock member doing this.
I did have a 2 week old chick kill its hatchmate. That could have happened with a broody or in a brooder, with the flock or isolated from the flock. I also had a one week old chick get in a pen of 8 week olds where Mama could not protect it. They killed it. Bad things can happen but I’ve never had another adult kill or even harm a chick.
There is nothing wrong with your plan to build a cage around her and the nest. Since it is your first time with a broody it’s probably a good idea for your peace of mind. Once you see a broody in action you might have a lot more confidence in her. Make the cage so no other chicken can fly in and the broody cannot fly out. Make it big enough for food and water. A broody hen should know to not poop in her nest and make a mess but she will not know to not poop in the food or water so you need access to clean. And make the cage with small mesh wire so a chick cannot get out and away from Mama’s protection once they hatch.
Personally I’d remove that cage after she brings them from the nest but if you want to keep them there a day or two, that’s fine. If they are where the rooster can see them he will almost certainly accept them as his offspring. Some roosters help the broody raise the chicks, some don’t. I’ve never had a dominant rooster do anything to harm a chick.
The other hens may initially show a little curiosity but mostly they ignore the chicks unless that chick invades their personally space. Then they usually peck the chick to remind it not to bother its betters. The chick runs back to Mama, who ignores this. But if that other hen tries to follow the chick or do more, Mama politely whips butt. Some broodies are more defensive than others but I’ve never had one fail to protect her chicks. It is important to not have fencing where the chicks can get away from Mama’s protection. Occasionally you get a hen that is more aggressive toward the chicks but my broodies have always been able to handle that. I’ve even seen when the chicks get separated from Mama that the rooster goes to the chicks to take care of them until the broody could figure out how to get back with her chicks. She had gone through a gate and turned back along the fence. Some chicks did not make it out of the gate but followed her along the inside of that fence and could not get through. Chickens sometimes don’t handle the concept of gate really well.
Anyway, welcome to the adventure. You are going to have fun. A broody hen taking care of her chicks is better TV than anything on cable or satellite.