Adding chicks to mama hen 2 days after hatch

Tahl

Hatching
Oct 25, 2020
6
7
5
Hi,
Sorry to ask a question straight away but I’ve searched the forum and can’t find anything specifically on this topic.

I have a lovely, very maternal Light Sussex who went broody three weeks ago and I snuck 6 Barnvelder eggs under her. She sat on them like a champ but unbeknownst to me, she’d stashed a Light Sussex egg deep in the box and it hatched 2 days ago. She’s being a stellar mama but abandoned the other 5.

I rescued them and popped them in my incubator. They’ve started hatching today, 2 days later, but now I have a quandary! My one brooder box has three, 4 week old chicks in it. What’s the best thing to do with these new hatchlings? Sneak them under mama hen? Hope the 4 week olds don’t persecute them too much?

I hadn’t prepared for this!!
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
24,491
186,488
1,592
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
Hi,
Sorry to ask a question straight away but I’ve searched the forum and can’t find anything specifically on this topic.

I have a lovely, very maternal Light Sussex who went broody three weeks ago and I snuck 6 Barnvelder eggs under her. She sat on them like a champ but unbeknownst to me, she’d stashed a Light Sussex egg deep in the box and it hatched 2 days ago. She’s being a stellar mama but abandoned the other 5.

I rescued them and popped them in my incubator. They’ve started hatching today, 2 days later, but now I have a quandary! My one brooder box has three, 4 week old chicks in it. What’s the best thing to do with these new hatchlings? Sneak them under mama hen? Hope the 4 week olds don’t persecute them too much?

I hadn’t prepared for this!!
Can you set up a brooder area for the late hatchers in the coop where mom and her lone chick are? She may see them and want to adopt them if she is that docile.

I had an unusual situation where a broody hen adopted 6 bantam chicks that I had taken away from their "mother" that hatched them. The second broody was sitting on her nest right outside the brooder (which is built into the coop with 1/2" HC walls) and she was able to see these chicks all along. She had no issues taking the lone chick she hatched in with the 3 week olds and raised them all together.
 

Tahl

Hatching
Oct 25, 2020
6
7
5
Can you set up a brooder area for the late hatchers in the coop where mom and her lone chick are? She may see them and want to adopt them if she is that docile.

I had an unusual situation where a broody hen adopted 6 bantam chicks that I had taken away from their "mother" that hatched them. The second broody was sitting on her nest right outside the brooder (which is built into the coop with 1/2" HC walls) and she was able to see these chicks all along. She had no issues taking the lone chick she hatched in with the 3 week olds and raised them all together.
Thanks for your reply!

I don’t have a spare heat source. I only set up one brooder and the 4 week olds are in there. Otherwise I’m sure I could put them in the coop with the mama hen in a cardboard box but I’d be worried they’d get cold fast.

What are your thoughts?
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
24,491
186,488
1,592
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
Thanks for your reply!

I don’t have a spare heat source. I only set up one brooder and the 4 week olds are in there. Otherwise I’m sure I could put them in the coop with the mama hen in a cardboard box but I’d be worried they’d get cold fast.

What are your thoughts?
Where are the 4 week olds? If they are in the house you might be able to get them feathered out with just a huddle box for warmth. Then set up the coop brooder with your heat source. Fence off a corner of the coop for the brooder where mom can see the chicks.
 

Tahl

Hatching
Oct 25, 2020
6
7
5
Where are the 4 week olds? If they are in the house you might be able to get them feathered out with just a huddle box for warmth. Then set up the coop brooder with your heat source. Fence off a corner of the coop for the brooder where mom can see the chicks.
The 4 week olds are in a non-heated out building with a screen door to keep our cat out. I can’t bring them inside because of same cat. Good idea though!

I’m thinking I might have to try sneaking them under mama tonight and watch closely. If that fails I might have to have them inside tonight with a wrapped hot water bottle and then give them away :(
 

AOrchard

Chirping
May 27, 2020
58
103
63
Wisconsin
If you want to try now, you can "kidnap" her chick for a few minutes so it starts peepping loudly for her. Once her baby is peeping up a storm and she's all concerned return her baby plus one of the new chicks. She'll probably be so glad to make her sad baby happy again, that she won't even realize there's more of them. My hen refused to let me stash chicks under her at night, but this worked for her. The other thing I like about this method is you know immediately if it takes, if she pecks at the new chick a couple times you are right there to remove it and get it warmed up again, if she calls both chicks over to food, you're all set no worries. You'll need to observe the new chick for the first hour and check in on it often the first day, to make sure it learns to go to Mama's cluck (if they're in a small pen you don't need to as much since the new chick can't accidently stray). When I did this with mine, I introduced two chicks, waited an hour, all looked good, then introduced the last two. Mama did notice that something had changed... But she couldn't quite figure it out, and she was satisfied that they came to eat when she called. She happily raised them all!
 

Tahl

Hatching
Oct 25, 2020
6
7
5
If you want to try now, you can "kidnap" her chick for a few minutes so it starts peepping loudly for her. Once her baby is peeping up a storm and she's all concerned return her baby plus one of the new chicks. She'll probably be so glad to make her sad baby happy again, that she won't even realize there's more of them. My hen refused to let me stash chicks under her at night, but this worked for her. The other thing I like about this method is you know immediately if it takes, if she pecks at the new chick a couple times you are right there to remove it and get it warmed up again, if she calls both chicks over to food, you're all set no worries. You'll need to observe the new chick for the first hour and check in on it often the first day, to make sure it learns to go to Mama's cluck (if they're in a small pen you don't need to as much since the new chick can't accidently stray). When I did this with mine, I introduced two chicks, waited an hour, all looked good, then introduced the last two. Mama did notice that something had changed... But she couldn't quite figure it out, and she was satisfied that they came to eat when she called. She happily raised them all!
This seemed like a great idea to me and I tried it. After two rounds of “kidnap the chick(s)” (sorry chicks!) she’d happily adopted the four extra. She tucked them up under and clucked happily, heckling at me if I came close. There were one or two random pecks but then she seemed to settle.

I checked on them frequently and all seemed well. When night fell she’d nestled in with all five so I left her to it.

Sadly this morning she’d abandoned all but her own. Two had died and three needed emergency warming, but pulled through. It’s like she woke up and suddenly thought, hang on a minute!!

This morning I hastily built a new brooder for my older chicks to move to, freeing up the newborn brooder with the heating plate for the rescued chicks. The 4 week olds will need twice daily “hot water bottle” changes but it’s the best I can do.

A sad end to something that seemed to be going so well!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
87,695
105,694
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SW Michigan
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If you want to try now, you can "kidnap" her chick for a few minutes so it starts peepping loudly for her. Once her baby is peeping up a storm and she's all concerned return her baby plus one of the new chicks. She'll probably be so glad to make her sad baby happy again, that she won't even realize there's more of them.
I love this technique!!

Sadly this morning she’d abandoned all but her own.
Bummer, but not surprising with 4 week age of chicks.
 

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
4,024
6,706
406
USA
Bummer, but not surprising with 4 week age of chicks.
???

There are three groups of chicks:

--a few days old, with the hen
--just hatched, rejected by the hen
--4 week olds that had nothing to do with the hen. They just now got moved out of their cozy brooder so the rejected babies can have the brooder.
 

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