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Eggs Hatched, now what...

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

To summarize: I had a hen that went broody, we skipped a day collecting eggs and she claimed the pile, as all my hens lay in the same box even though I have 10 boxes. The brainchild chicken got up to get food and water and came back to the nest and sat on a new pile and abandoned the ones about to hatch. I moved her but I was not hopeful because they were pretty cool when I found her.

 

 

Fast forward to yesterday and 4 have hatched, there could be more today, I didn't want to disturb her much in case it caused her to do something else stupid.  I have never had a chicken raise chicks, I always buy mine at a day old and use a brooder. I have ordered chicks that will be coming soon though so I plan to let her raise these herself.

 

A few questions though.

 

1.) The are in a nesting box that is hanging on the side of the wall about 3 feet high. How do I need to get them on the ground?

 

2.) I plan on adding a wire cage that has wire spaced far enough that babies can go in and out to keep the chick feed and water in there. My chicken waterers are too tall for chicks. Should I lock the hen up in there with them a day or two and then let them out so they learn where they get food or should I do it differently?

 

3.) How long should I get the other eggs to hatch before I toss them?

post #2 of 6

Hi, here are my thoughts...

 

Maybe leave the nest where it is until 48 hours after the first chick hatched, then move them all to the wire cage. Depending on the weather where you are, you can either leave the door to the cage open and let momma make the decisions, or keep them inside for a couple of days. Either way, once you do open the cage, momma will make all the decisions - you can sit back and enjoy it. I fretted with my first hatch, but these days, i simply put momma and chicks on the coop floor and let her do her thing (with food and water provided, of course).

 

All the best

CT

Nairobi, Kenya
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Nairobi, Kenya
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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKen View Post
 

Hi, here are my thoughts...

 

Maybe leave the nest where it is until 48 hours after the first chick hatched, then move them all to the wire cage. Depending on the weather where you are, you can either leave the door to the cage open and let momma make the decisions, or keep them inside for a couple of days. Either way, once you do open the cage, momma will make all the decisions - you can sit back and enjoy it. I fretted with my first hatch, but these days, i simply put momma and chicks on the coop floor and let her do her thing (with food and water provided, of course).

 

All the best

CT


Thanks!

 

My only concerns are, I am afraid the other chickens will drink their water and eat their feed if they can get to it also. If I close the door behind them the chicks will be able to run in and out as they please but will momma let them. I guess I can purchase some smaller waterers to use while the babies are small. Also, will the babies eat the layer feed if they can get to it. I am going to put chick starter out as well but I know layer feed can damage their kidneys and I wasn't sure if they had the option of one or the other that they would choose the one they need?

post #4 of 6
I’ve seen a broody hen get chicks down from a ten feet high hay loft. Mama said jump and they did, then bounced up and ran to her. My suggestion is to leave her alone and let her decide when they need to come off the nest. If you do decide to move them, be careful. Chicks like to crawl up under the hen’s wings and in the feathers. I crushed a chick once when picking up a broody hen. The more I interfere the more damage I generally cause. I don’t interfere much with a broody any more.

One danger with waterers is that the chicks can get in them and not be able to get out so they drown. I suggest you fill the waterers with rocks or something (some people use marbles but rocks are free here) so the chicks can walk on top of the water.

You do need water where the chicks can get to it. I don’t know what kind of waterers you have or how they are set up so it’s hard to get too specific with suggestions. In my brooder I use this. I have set this up on a paver where the chicks can get to it when they are raised with the flock, but now I use something different.



I make a platform around a dog bowl (black rubber in winter or inside the coop so it can be emptied if it freezes, white plastic in summer in the sun so it stays cooler) and fill the bowl with rocks when I have young chicks. They can hop up better than most people think. In the coop I spread a piece of plywood on top of the bedding and place this in the middle to help reduce the shavings being scratched in the water.



Many people isolate the broody hen and chicks when they eggs hatch. Some totally isolate them until the chicks are practically grown. Many isolate them for a day or two to help them get more mobile, then let them loose with the flock. Mama will protect them if they need it. Usually mine don’t need much protection but occasionally Mama whips butt if any chick threatens her babies.

I generally just let Mama bring them off the nest whenever she decides to and let her raise them with the flock. There is no specific right way or wrong way to do any of this, mainly just the way we choose. It’s possible there is something about your flock or your set-up that indicates one way might be better than another. If your space is tight it can be harder for Mama to raise them with the flock. But if your space is that tight you will probably have trouble integrating them later anyway. The biggest risk to the chicks if your space is tight is not when Mama is raising them but after she weans them and leaves them on their own with the flock. I’ve had a couple of hens wean their chicks at three weeks in warm weather and those chicks were fine with the flock, but I’ve got a lot of room. Most broodies wean them between 4 to 9 weeks of age.

After a chick internal pips the chick still in the egg starts talking to the hen. The hen knows when more are coming. I’ve had hens bring their chicks off the nest within 24 hours of the first chick hatching, I’ve had some wait more than three full days. I usually open the unhatched eggs to see at what stage they stopped developing. I’ve never had a hen leave a live chick behind. But mine are always started at the same time, I mark the ones I want her to hatch and check daily to remove any others. I think yours were all started at the same time, I hope so. I think you have the best chance of getting the most chicks to hatch by letting the hen decide when to bring her chicks off the nest. If I don’t interfere I am less likely to cause harm.

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

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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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

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #5 of 6
I see you posted while I was typing. The chicks will eat layer feed. If they can’t get to it Mama will feed it to them. Within a few days the chicks will be flying up to eat it on their own. A standard way to handle this is to feed them all a feed safe for the chicks and offer oyster shell on the side. The ones that need the calcium for egg shells seem to know this instinctively while the ones that don’t need it don/’t eat enough to harm themselves.

The older chickens will just devour anything you set up differently for the chicks, even if it is the exact same feed. They just seem to think it is a special treat. I don’t do anything differently when I have chicks, just lower my feeder so the chicks can get to it. But many people use a creep feeder of some type or another. I made this at one time but don’t use it any more. This fits over a chick feeder.



Having some place the chicks can get into but the adults cannot and putting feed in there is a standard method to handle the adults eating all the feed for the chicks. The broody hen doesn’t have to be able to get in there, he chicks will find it.

Another word of warning. If you decide to isolate the hen and chicks make very sure the chicks cannot escape and join the other chickens. Without Mama to protect them they are in danger from the other chickens, mainly the hens. I’ve never had a rooster threaten chicks, he assumes they are his and may help take care of them. But Mama needs to be able to protect her babies so make sure her babies can’t get away from her protection.

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

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply

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

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you for all the helpful information @Ridgerunner. I think what I am going to do is set up a creep system like you mentioned with feed and water so that the chicks can get to it if they choose. I will let mom bring them down on her own and not separate them. Right now the flock drinks out of 2.5 gallon buckets so I am going to see what I can do to work something else out bc the chicks will be able to jump into those and drown. I can't wait to get a better look and them and see what all we have!

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