Originally Posted by yammafarmer
So you don't section off the mom and eggs? Fancy Nancy has set up shop in the nesting boxes a foot off the ground. I was thinking that I'd put her in a chicken wire cage of sorts with a nest inside the coop (at floor level) when all was ready to go. I wasn't sure what to do when the chicks hatched. Fancy is super sweet, but certainly not wimpy. Perhaps I should trust her to fend off any unwelcome attention from the other girls.
Topsy had 3 broods in 2012. That was her 1st year of brooding. She will be 70 weeks old on Weds. The 1st and 2nd broods were shipped eggs. The 3rd one was with her eggs with the partridge silky rooster.
The first two times I put her in a special sectioned off area of the coop - it was a bit of a pain, but it made me feel better about putting shipped eggs under her. The last time I let her hatch her own eggs. She wouldn't leave the nestbox - so I just left 5 eggs under her. Only one egg ever got smooshed - it wasn't viable and I think she purposefully smooshed it. Boy did it stink! When the eggs finally hatched I thought I would have to intervene somehow - but no. She got all four babies down herself. They were running around on the floor of the coop with her when I went out to clean up. She moved them to another area of the coop - in a corner and that's where they have stayed. Topsy abandoned them around the 6th week, but Vanilla Ice stayed with them. Then Vanilla finally abandoned them around week 10 and moved up on the roost. She is now 24 weeks old and starting to be mated by the rooster - so she needed to move on. Topsy was trying to go broody again and the babies had joined her on the floor on the coop. She's since abandoned being broody - but hasn't left the floor nest at night - so the three 12 week old babies (one disappeared a week ago) huddle with her on the floor.
This was one of my earlier broods - Smokey on the left and Topsy on the right divided with landscape fabric from each other and hardware cloth from the rest of the flock.
Here's another one of my early attempts at helping the broodies - neither one stayed in the broody containers I provided. They moved their eggs out onto the straw or shavings.
Here's the nest box area of my coop. Topsy sat the entire time in the favorite box - the one on the right that has the White Leghorn in it in this pic. She was joined by her previous "daughter" Vanilla Ice who sat in the box with her pretty much the whole time after Vanilla's hatchmate was killed by a hawk. Vanilla was never broody - she just helped with the momma aspect of it. So cutte to watch them both calling the chicks to food.
Topsy is the black silkie and her baby Vanilla Ice is the white/splash silkie mix. The 4 little silkies are against the run door.
Here is Vanilla Ice forcing her way into the nest box with Topsy shortly after her hatchmate was killed by a hawk. I just let Topsy hatch here because I wasn't worried about the cost of the eggs if they didn't make it. Plus it was easier on me.
I forgot to put in this post that the chicks that Topsy hatched in the nest box, that is 20" off the ground, were silky chicks. They were teeny tiny and by the 2nd day she had them out of the nestbox and down on the floor of the coop - without my help. I didn't watch them get down. They might have fluttered down to the ladder first then hopped to the ground. But judging from the way they exited the coop the first time - I think they probably just jumped from the edge down. It's also possible that Topsy brought them down herself as I have seen her carry ping pong balls under her wings.
I say all this to help reduce your fears about the babies dying from falling out of the nest box. Does it happen - yes it could - but that doesn't mean it will.
Edited by bobbieschicks - 2/1/13 at 5:20am