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Will a broody hen raise chicks?

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 

I have a broody Black Australorp.  She's been broody for at least one month, staying put on her unfertilized eggs all day and night.  I keep collecting them daily, but still she stays put.  I even force her to free range every day, but she pecks and scratches for about 10-15 minutes and then she's right back in the coop.

At this point in time, I am also ready for more baby chicks.  If I buy baby chicks, will she raise them for me, or should I still keep them in my brooder?  If she will raise them, how do I prepare for this?  I am assuming that I can't just plop them in the coop next to her?  I have a small separate coop, 24" x 36", but I don't think that this is big enough for the mamma hen plus 5 baby chicks, is it?
Thanks for any input!

post #2 of 64

I am in the same situation right now.  I have a BSL sitting on infertile eggs - poor girl.  I'm trying to find her a few fertile eggs locally to pick up because in this heat I don't want to risk shipping eggs.  In the event I am unable to pick up some eggs, my back up plan is to try to find chicks to put under her.  Though I've never done it before, I have a couple of friends who have, and as I understand it, the best bet is to wait until its good and dark outside and she is asleep, then slip the chicks under her.  In the morning she will think the eggs hatched and go about the business of raising her brood.  That's the theory anyway.  This even worked for one of my friends when the chicks were 2 1/2 weeks old!  Mama Hen was so proud of "her" babies, and the chicks, despite having been in a brooder for the first 17 days of their life, were just as pleased to find themselves with an adoptive mother.

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Enjoying my 10-acres in the country with 50+ chickens, turkeys and muscovy ducks!  Blog is here.

 

Read about my fox attack here

A fox attack survival story

My hoop house

Should I add supplemental heat?

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post #3 of 64

Yes, I've slipped chicks under a broody after dark a few times now, and she raised them as if she'd hatched them.  And yes, this is best done after dark, though sometimes they will accept them during the day if simply put near her.  I even had one broody begin pacing and clucking through a chicken wire wall one morning, wanting to be "reunited" with the week old chicks which were being brooded in a pen.  Sure enough, she "raised" them for a month after.

All you have to do is put chick feed and water where she can teach them to eat it.  IMO mamas do a better job than we do; chicks seem to mature faster, and don't get cocci or pasty butt.  No heat, even in cold weather, mama takes care of that, too.  Feed mama the chick food.  You can have oyster shell in a separate bowl, though she probably won't bother with it til she starts laying again, or gets close.  Actually you can feed grower or flock raiser to all the chickens with the oyster shell on the side.  I haven't bought layer for nearly a year.

Ventilation -- may be the most important aspect of coop design

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

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Ventilation -- may be the most important aspect of coop design

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

14 hatchery and mutt hens

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post #4 of 64

Often, especially if the hen is of a commonly broody breed and strain, yes, she'll take in chicks that weren't originally from her eggs.


In fact, I one time introduced a broody hen (who had nothing to take care of) to a mother hen and her one chick. To my surprise, the broody hen instantly took possession of the chick, as she was far more caring and much bigger and fluffier, and, so, the chick had a new foster mom.

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post #5 of 64
Thread Starter 

OK, I am excited to try this!  But still, one question- Do I put the baby chicks in with my broody right where she is?  She has claimed a spot on the floor of the coop, off to the side, away from the nesting boxes and the roosts.  The coop is 2.5 feet off the ground, with a ramp leading up to it.  Will baby chicks be OK in the coop or will they fall out?  I can easily set up food and water in there.  There's plenty of room, too, it's a 4'x8' coop with 5 chickens (hence the new baby chicks)!

post #6 of 64

They'll be fine.  They may fly or jump out; not likely to fall out.  The broody will be upset less if you don't try to move her.  She will move if she needs to, to be able to cover her chicks at night.

Ventilation -- may be the most important aspect of coop design

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

14 hatchery and mutt hens

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Ventilation -- may be the most important aspect of coop design

BYC Troubleshooting article -- click here

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due.

14 hatchery and mutt hens

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post #7 of 64
Thread Starter 

Thanks DDawn and everyone else!  Will the chicks go up and down the ramp or do they stay in the coop?  Will the other chickens bother the chicks?

post #8 of 64

I would think if she accepts them they will go up the ramp bc she will lead them up

post #9 of 64

If the hen accepts the chicks they will stick close to her and should be fine with the other chickens. I tried giving my broody hens chicks but they never seem to accept them as there own. Even had to rescue some that one of my hen hatched but then started pecking at D: I was very surprised.

1 Araucana Hen; 2 Silver Laced Wyndot Hens;1 White Silkie Roo;  1 Araucana Roo

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1 Araucana Hen; 2 Silver Laced Wyndot Hens;1 White Silkie Roo;  1 Araucana Roo

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post #10 of 64
Thread Starter 

Ok so now you knowledgeable people are talking about something that I know nothing about.  What is this notion of my hen "accepting" the chicks?  Even if she is broody, then she still might not take care of the chicks?  She might peck at them?  Would she peck them to death?  So how does this really work?  I need details, please.  If I put the chicks in with her at night, do I stay there and watch with a flashlight?  Do I set up a lawn chair and watch her the whole next day? Is this potentially dangerous for the chicks?  How long before I know if she accepts the chicks?  Once she accepts them , is it a done deal?  Might she reject them later?  HELP!

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