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baby chicks in a blizzard??

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by vtgirls, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. vtgirls

    vtgirls Songster

    May 20, 2010
    Our little Buff Cochin Bantam has gone broody (her first time) and is setting on one of her own eggs and 3 she commandeered from her full size lady hen friends. They all prefer one nest box and climbed in right on top of her - despite protest - to lay their eggs today. I have moved her to the garage (unheated) to hatch out the babies. She is in a nesting box with plenty of hay and some shavings, food and water. This is why I am now posting under raising chicks:

    Once they hatch they will surely freeze if she walks away for more than a moment living in the coop with the others - it will be 20 below here off and on through the end of February. March is usually pretty brutal too, though by April we have MUD...

    Does this plan sound like it will work for them after they hatch:

    I have a 3x5 hoop tractor which I can tarp, put the nest box inside of, some shavings and food - if I use a heat lamp over one end will it be warm enough out in the garage since Mama will be there too? How big of a bulb? Where should I put the lamp - over the nesting box or at the other end? How quickly will they feather out if they will be ok in this set up - faster than if they were from the breeder?

    Thanks ahead for all the advice!!

  2. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    Your plan sounds PERFECT ! ! ! Mama will keep the babies warm. The light will be nice for them all though. I would try the bulb over the nest. Then, they can go to the other end to cool off, if needed. Any watt bulb will provide some heat, really. I like the red 250 watts myself, but they are dangerous, and one must use caution with them, and you wouldn't want it tooooo close to the nest.

    Good luck, and congratulations on the broody and getting prepared!
  3. Rozzie

    Rozzie Songster

    Jul 14, 2010
    In nature, birds do not hatch out chicks in weather that will be 20 below. (I suppose penguins might be an exception. I have no idea. However, I doubt you've crossed chickens & penguins so...)

    Seriously, these birds are not meant by nature to hatch babies in that cold of weather. We need to mimic nature whenever possible. Unless you can guarantee that your chicks won't get cold then you need to find a place inside.

    If you are building a small coop in the garage, ensure that the whole thing will be at a reasonable temperature, even when they are out from under mama. Think about what outdoor temps are during hatching season, and try to have that be the lowest temperature anywhere in their enclosure. Otherwise, I'm afraid you could end up with a high rate of death among your chicks. Mama chicken can only do so much. Her feathered warmth is meant to keep them warm in weather that might get down to 50, or perhaps a bit cooler in some places, not -20. Heck, it's hard enough for an adult chicken to stay warm in that weather, let alone babies.

    Do you have a basement? second bathroom? any place you could move them inside?
  4. DAFox

    DAFox Songster

    Nov 7, 2009
    SW MO in Vernon Co
    When you make your coop in the garage, try to have a thick layer of cardboard or something on the concrete. And then a thick layer of shavings on top of that. I disagree about where to put the heat lamp. I think it should be nearer the food and water, without being on top of them. This way the chicks will be ok when moving around. Mama will keep them warm enough on the nest.
    On the other hand -- before they hatch -- it would probably be better for the heat lamp to be nearer the nest. This way Mama can leave to eat, etc. without too much risk of the eggs getting cold.
    Good luck,
  5. vtgirls

    vtgirls Songster

    May 20, 2010
    After moving pretty Mama to the Ritz of nesting boxes (to help keep peace in the coop and to keep her warmer) she decided to hop off the eggs and not set on them. Out in the coop nest box she'd been setting non stop for several days and nights. I have returned her to her pals so now perhaps she has given up on the broody at the beginning of winter - we shall see how the day continues - for now shes out scratching about with the others. I think that when she lays today perhaps she will not decide to set and we can wait for spring - hopefully!

    I have no basement or extra room, as well as two big dogs and four cats prowling in the house so the garage is really the only option (its a little cape). I will post again if she sets a new clutch!
  6. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

    Sep 1, 2009
    Hastings, MN
    My black java hen hatched out four chicks on Thanksgiving weekend. We put her and her chicks in a rabbit cage on the floor of the coop with food and water and she's doing great. This is our broody's first hatch, and we aren't using a lamp for extra heat. The chicks will run out from under her, eat and drink their fill, then scoot back under Mama for a warm-up. I think we'll keep them boxed up for a few more weeks and then release them to the rest of the flock with Broody protecting the little ones.

    By the way, we are in Minnesota where the temp is particularly brutal at this time of year.
  7. pinkyglory123

    pinkyglory123 Songster

    Jul 3, 2010
    My standard cochin hen hatched two buff orpington chicks 11/28. the temperatures here have been brutal-very low for this area-<20 degrees with howling winds. They have been doing really well. I do have a heat lamp up but it is hung 3-4 feet high since I was using it primarily for supplemental light. It does not allways keep things above freezing. But everyone is doing fine-babies are getting little wing and tail feathers. eating and drinking well-as is mom. They are in the main coop but enclosed in a large wire dog crate. Babies are able to slip between the bars but immeidately return to mom. I would not choose to hatch again this time of year but I am cautiously optimistic this will work out. I am glad she does not have more chicksto keep covered. I am leaving the heat lamp on from 3 AM till sunset to encourage the little ones to be as active as possible figuring that during dark the chicks will be under mom. I think my first step when they are fully feathered will be to open the crate door. I am only keeping the pop hole open due to the weather and will affix a board high enough to keep the chicks from leaving the coop but will allow the hens out. That is the plan anyway. I have to say an excellent mother hen makes things easy.

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