Baby chicks born in the winter! HELP!!


In the Brooder
9 Years
Feb 22, 2010
I went out to feed the chickens this morning to find baby chicks in one of my nesting boxes. Mamma is taking good care of them but do I need to put momma and babies in a seperate pen away from the other chickens? Should I feed the babies and mom lay crumbles or feed the mom and babies starter crumbles? It's now getting down into the 30's at night, should I leave babies and momma outside or bring them in? HELP!!


The decision is up to you. I live in MIchigan, the year before last I had a hen hatch chicks on Christmas day. I put them in the garage in a wire cage and a heat lamp. I lost one of the 5 chicks, but the rest and mother survived and did well. My fear wasn't that the mother couldn't keep them warm, it was that they wouldn't be able to leave her to eat or her to leave them to eat safely. A word of warning though. When its time to reunite the hen with the flock its the same as introducing a new bird to the flock. I ended up with them in the garage until spring. To me it was worth it. The cage I had them in was roughly 2' x 4'.x4' and by the middle of January I put a young guinea that wasn't doing well in with them with no problems at all.
Thanks for the response! Do you think the other chickens will injure the chicks if I leave them in there. She is the dominant hen.
Yes I am in the same situation, when I found momma sitting on five eggs I brought them all indoors in a fleece lined shoe box in rabbit cage in my living room. She pushed three eggs out of the nest a week later so I took them out. One hatched last night and I am hoping the last one will soon. I don't have a heat lamp on them because the cage is so small and surrounded by blankets so there is no draft. Should I put a lamp on them anyway? I was worried about a fire hazard because the cage is part plastic and the blankets are fleece.

And I have the same question about food- should I put the medicated chick starter in there for mom and babies to eat or stick with the layer crumbles until the chicks are a little older and eating more on their own. Will the medicated feed hurt the mother? I cut a small door out so when the chicks are ready they can get in and out of the nesting box
A few months back we were blessed with a baby. We have 3 hens silkie bantum and 1 roo bantum. I decided to let nature take its course and mom and aunties did a wonderful job raising it. Last night while closing up I noticed a new chick sitting in the hay. It looked as though mom was pecking at it so I ran in and took it out. After about 10minutes I decided again to let nature take its course. We so want to nurture but thats what those moms are for. We tucked it back under mom and this morning all seems well. Its getting pretty cold 27 last night but we have a constant heat lamp where they can lay under or not. I am on my way out to move the crumbles and water closer to mom and baby so they don't have far to go. I have a feeling she may have something else brewing under her. Stepping in isn't always the right thing to do. Plenty of warmth, food/water, dry bedding should work. Good luck. Gotta go check on mine.
Just feed them the usual chick crumb for both chickss and mother - I'm pretty sure I read somewhere layers crumble is too high in protein or calcium or someting for chicks. Both momma and chicks will do fine on chick crumb then at ten weeks or so you can start introducing hard food with some grit. The chicks will need a heat lamp for the first week of life to be safe because it is at this age they have no control over their temperature. I had some chicks hatch five weeks ago, took them away from the mum (she has a history of killing her chicks) and raised them in my room. Had heat lamp on for the first four weeks of life and am just starting to let them outside for short periods of time. I'll only let the three of them out permnantly once they are about nine weeks because this is when they're fully feathered.
Granted, this is my first hatch - chicks are a week old and we've only had chickens since March. However, one of my hens went broody, so I decided to let her try. Temps have been around freezing the whole time with one week in the upper teens/low 20s. Mama hatched out 7 of the 8! She was in a separate cage in the coop while brooding, but once the chicks hatched I opened it so mama could move about. I've had no problems at all! Their food and water is just outside the broody cage, under a plastic crate so the rest of the flock don't eat it all (holes are big enough for the chicks to go into to eat/drink and a few times a day one of us goes out to open it up so mama can "teach" the chicks how to eat. She mostly seems to keep the chicks near their cage/food/water, but they venture around the coop a bit and yesterday a couple of them made it outside with mama.

We have 17 hens and 2 roosters in the flock. I don't heat or light the coop at all. The chickens free-range most of the day. Haven't had issues with any of the other hens or roosters picking on the new chicks even though the roosters are rather aggresive. I think the mama may be near the top of the pecking order, but not sure. She is quite docile, though.

Good luck with your little chickies! I think they'll do fine in the coop with mama.
Hens have been raising chicks with the flock for thousands of years. They are living animals and anything can happen, but they have been successful enough raising them that way that they are not yet extinct.

There is no right answer or wrong answer to this. We all have different flocks, conditions, and set-ups. I really think how much room Mama has to work is important to the overall success, but if space is too crowded for her to raise the chicks with the flock, how are you going to integrate them later? You won't have room.

I prefer Mama to integrate the chicks herself, but I have plenty of room. I integrate incubator hatched chicks a lot without problems. But some people have a history of problems so keeping them separate works for them.

As far as the feed, there are plenty of studies that clearly show eating Layer can be bad for the growing chicks. I'm not talking about people that once saw a chick eat a bite of Layer feed and did not drop dead immediately so all that is a load of bunk but studies where Layer was regularly fed to the chicks and medical professionals cut the chicks open and saw what damage was done to the internal organs.

The problem is the extra calcium in layer. One bite will not kill them. They need to eat it regularly for a few days to suffer harm. And it is not about the percent calcium in the feed that counts. It’s about the total amount of calcium they eat. If they are foraging for a lot of their food and not eating much Layer they are not likely to be harmed.

Broodies will take feed out of a high feeder and drop it on the ground for their chicks. By the time they are two weeks old, those chicks will be flying up there to eat it by themselves.
What I suggest is feeding the entire flock what you want the chicks to eat and offer oyster shell on the side. The ones that need the extra calcium from the eggs should eat enough oyster shell to get what they need. The ones that don’t need it may experiment a bit with it but shouldn’t eat enough to cause themselves any harm.

As others have mentioned the hen will keep them warm. Her heater never has a power outage. Winter time is not the best time for a hen to raise chicks, but many do it successfully.

I don’t know enough about what your set-up looks like but if you have space I’d suggest let Mama handle it in the time honored way. I can’t give you any guarantees that nothing bad will happen, but no one can honestly give you any guarantees that nothing bad will happen if you go a different route.

Good luck!!!
What I did when the mother had hatched out chicks was put them in a seperate cage. They had their own little space, yet they still could see the other chickens and the other chickens could see them. Also, since it is getting cold, you should move them and put a heat lamp with them so they stay warm, but also allow room so they have the choice to move away from the lamp if they get to hot. If it was hot outside you wouldn't need a lamp or heat source during the day or night. The mom should be able to keep them warm enough at night though when the babies go under her; they just need to stay warm during the day since its cold and they have to have a set body temperature. Mama and babies all eat the same food so give them chick starter, medicated or non medicated. It doesn't hurt the hen. She just doesn't produce eggs. When she is ready to go back to the flock, they should readily accept her. Just minimal fighting since the pecking order was changed a bit.

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