We have two hens sitting on 5 eggs each, these should hatch in about a week we hope. Once the chicks hatch should we move the hens and chicks to a new coop and run or can they be left with the rest of the flock? Also we have 4 Silkies can these be integrated into our flock of Chanticlairs or should they be kept separate? We got them because everything we read was that they are very good brooders. We were told to but eggs into the nesting boxes to promote brooding but so far they don't seem to be interested in sitting on a nest, in fact we have had them for 2 months and they were 9 months old when we got them and they have only laid 3 eggs to date...is this normal? We are newbies at raising chickens and would appreciate any and all help.
Not sure your set up now. Where are they sitting?
If you can block off a section of the coop that should work. I did that with my little group of chicks and worked out very well. I put a large dog crate into the coop and they had that area with food and water for about 2 weeks (the weather went nuts here about the time they hatched) momma has had them out and about now and the coop is back to normal with no crate etc.
Silkies do make good brooders from what I hear but I integrating depends on the temperament of your other birds. Silkies can tend to get picked on since they are so docile. I am not very familiar with them so hopefully some else will chime in.
As far as not laying they should start to pick up production soon. One the weather can effect and two stress/change can cause a period of non laying. It will take them some time to settle into their new home. After which hopefully they get to work for you ya.
Leave it open for free movement. I moved mine into the crate before they hatched for many reasons. Big one being I didn't want the other hens to keep leaving more eggs for her and I also did not want the chicks or hatching eggs to get damaged by others walking on them etc. Around day 18 mom will go on lock-down and will not get off the nest until they hatch.
Just be ready to change water often because momma will scratch around and kick up a lot of shavings. Momma will decide when to venture out and normally they stick close to the coop for a few days. Good luck!
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There is no one right way to do this. We do it all kinds of different ways. Hens have been hatching and raising chicks with the flock ever since there have been chickens. People have been isolating hens while they hatch and/or raise chicks for a long time. There are advantages and risks each way. Sometimes your facilities or flock may make one way better than another. We are all unique. And you are dealing with living animals. Different animals will react differently.
How tight your facilities are can make a difference. A broody hen needs a little room to work but the big need for room comes after she weans them and leaves them on their own with the flock. I’ve had hens wean their chicks at three weeks, leaving them totally alone to make their own way with the flock. I’ve had some not wean them until after two months. She had already integrated them into the flock but they have to handle the pecking order. Young chicks rank at the bottom of the pecking order until they mature enough to force their way into the flock pecking order. They handle this by forming a separate sub-flock and avoiding the adults as much as they can. Having enough room to avoid the adults is important. If your space is too tight for this, you are very likely to have integration issues later if you separate them. If you separate them you will have to handle integration your own, maybe with the hen when she weans them as well as with the chicks when they are grown enough.
I’ve never had a mature rooster even threaten to harm a chick. I have had mature roosters (not all but some) help Mama take care of the chicks. If the rooster is introduced to the chicks while they are still young he normally sees them as his offspring and wants to protect them. If you wait until they are big enough for him to see them as rivals you may have issues with a rooster.
It is pretty rare for one of my adult hens to go out of their way to bother a chick. If the chick invades the personal space of another hen she might or might not peck the chick to remind it that it is bad chicken etiquette for that chick to bother its betters. If she does peck it that chick runs back to Mama and life is good. But occasionally a hen will actually try to harm the chick or chase it. That’s when Mama goes into protective mode. She promptly whips butt. Nobody hurts her chicks. I’ve never lost a chick to another adult flock member as long as the broody can get there to protect the chick. This brings up a very important point. If you decide to isolate the hen and chicks, make very sure the chicks cannot escape and join the rest of the flock when Mama can’t be there to protect them. Very young chicks are in danger from the other hens or other immature pullets or cockerels if they are older than the chicks.
I’ve seen a hen get her chicks out of a 10’ high hay loft. Mama said jump and they did, then they bounced up and ran to her. The height of your nests does not bother me at all. One potential issue is if a chick falls out it can’t get back up. With the size of your milk crates and the way it is set up I don’t see a problem with that. If your nests were smaller where the hen was sitting next to the edge I would be concerned. The chicks that hatch first often climb up on Mama’s back while she is hatching the later ones. If she is real close to the edge they might miss the nest on the way down. I don’t see that happening with your nests even without the curtains.
Occasionally I will move a broody hen and her chicks to another coop, usually because my main coop is pretty full. I wait until the broody hen brings her chicks off the nest then move them and isolate them in there for two nights. After that I turn them loose with the flock. The broody hen will take them back to that smaller coop to sleep after that. If I leave her alone instead when she brings them off the nest she does not return to the nest but instead takes her chicks to a corner of the coop and keeps them on the floor overnight.
One word of warning. Really young chicks like to crawl up under Mama’s wings or hide in her feathers. If you pick a broody hen up, be very careful to not crush a chick hiding like that. I learned the hard way.
I have a lot of room and like my hens to handle basic integration for me. Others isolate their broodies and chicks for their own reasons. There is nothing wrong with that, just a different way to do things.
Also we have 4 Silkies can these be integrated into our flock of Chanticlairs or should they be kept separate?
Many people have no problems at all integrating Silkies into their flocks, other people have problems. Some of that depends on the personality of your individual chickens, some on how much room you have, and some on your techniques. In general any integration goes better if you have lots of room, feed and water in separate places so they don’t have to compete for food and water, and you house them side by side for a while so they get used to each other. That lots of room doesn’t just mean coop and run space but roost space. Silkies cannot fly so you may have nest height and roost height issues with them.
We were told to but eggs into the nesting boxes to promote brooding but so far they don't seem to be interested in sitting on a nest,
I’ve tried that a few times. Once I got a broody hen but she went broody in a different nest. I don’t think that counts. So it has always been unsuccessful with me.
in fact we have had them for 2 months and they were 9 months old when we got them and they have only laid 3 eggs to date...is this normal?
Yes and no. Are they hiding a nest? Other than the molt that’s the biggest reason hens that should be laying aren’t. Are they molting. Sometimes the stress of a move can trigger a molt. Stress of a move or other stress can temporarily stop them from laying. After two months yours should be over that. But how were they laying before you got them? Silkies are not known to be great layers. They may be waiting on the weather changing to really start, especially at that age.
You will find that with chickens there are no hard and fast answers to practically anything. There are always exceptions to what anybody says or sees. The best we can do is tell you things we’ve seen and things we would expect most chickens to do. Good luck!
Thank you all for your advise! I think we will leave them in the coop with the rest of the flock. Since there are two hens brooding I'm not sure how well putting the dog carrier in for nesting and feeding will work I think I will set the chick feed and water stations up under the nesting boxes for shelter. Right now with the 4 nesting boxes that we have the other hens are laying in the other two so that is not an issue. Our Silkies coop doesn't have to many places for them to hide a nest and the run is not complete so they have not been outside as of yet. We got them in the middle of winter on the spur of the moment and was not able to build a run. Our Chanteclers run was covered all but one side to keep the snow out so they were able to spend days that it was snowing out side but our of the elements. On days that it wasn`t snowing they still liked to free range although some days the snow was just to deep they would do a flying jump off the ramp land in the snow up over their heads then very quickly flap their way back to the ramp and into the run.
Thank you all for your great advise. We have 7 Chicks to date and one hen still sitting on 8 eggs. Not sure when these will hatch since the sneeky hens laid more eggs in the nest that we did not know about or date so we have 8 eggs that could hatch anytime in the next two weeks. We noticed the extra eggs last week 4 days before the hatching date when one of the hens was off of her nest eating.
Hello all, Got another question. My Hen that has been sitting on the eggs has now left the nest and is outside with the chicks has been off for about 1/2 hour. How long can she be off of the eggs before they are not viable any longer? The eggs were cold to the touch and it's only about 50 or 55 in the coop. This is the first year for us and our hens for brooding and I'm not sure what to do if anything?? Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
Edited by Ian Clelland - 5/12/16 at 9:54am