Baby chicks in coop with older chickens


Apr 3, 2019
Winnsboro, Texas
One of my hens is brooding in the coop shared with 2 roosters and 6 other hens. right now there does not seem to be a problem, since she is just sitting on the eggs. I am not sure what to expect when the chicks hatch. Are they safe with momma hen to protect them, or should I consider a relocation for her before they hatch. She will be a first time mom and is very protective if I try to look under her. I have to catch her out of the coop in order to see what she has.
No one can know how a first time broody will respond to the challenge of keeping her chicks safe. You can take a wait and see approach and if there's trouble, address it then. Or you can take preventative steps to insure the safety of the chicks.

Many of us will make a floor nest in a corner of the coop for the broody. A barricade of small mesh so tiny chicks can't slip through is best. Moving a broody, though, is not all that simple. Some will accept the new nest after you show her the eggs in it, but sometimes it causes the broody to abandon the eggs.

Another problem with brooding where the other hens have access is that they are likely to want to lay eggs on top of the ones the broody is incubating. This causes the broody's eggs to break and the newer eggs may be mixed up with them. The problem with more eggs is that they may hatch later, and that opens up more issues, and it can get complicated.

This first time, you may want to just watch and see what all happens, note any problems, and then make changes to your coop for the next time you have a broody sit on eggs.
I waited until they hatched and then moved hen and chicks to a safe place. Its risky to leave them with the flock, roosters can be aggressive to "intruders" of his flock. Other hens may peck and chase them or pick on mom as she tries to protect. And I had the exact problem with another hen sitting on top of my broody and adding to her clutch … I had to dispose of viable eggs because she was done sitting after the original eggs hatched. Best of luck!
You received excellent advice here!
I would only add that there are some definite tricks to help the broody accept her new place and eggs should you choose to move her. (I've had only one hen not transfer to a new location out of... an embarrassingly large number of broodies.)
-Pitch black night is best
-I put the hen in the new box and take the eggs one at a time making sure to press them into her breast so she feels them.
-I back off a bit (depending on the broody) and wait. Usually they settle down and that's it! I did have one pace for a while, so I put just a little light on the nesting box and eggs. Eventually she went to the box and settled in.
Whatever you decide, keeping a close watch will be key! :) enjoy your new babies!
I'm in the same boat, but with a smaller flock of 4 hens. My girls will definitely lay on top of my broody, so I've just cordoned off my broody's nest. No roosters, but one of my girls used to tear combs so I'm going to be going see but don't touch for a while. Thankfully, my run and coop are big enough that it won't cramp my big girls to section it off and *finger's crossed*, I'm hoping for a smooth transition. Good luck!
This was my first year letting a broody raise chicks. These were store bought chicks I placed under her when she insisted on staying on the floor for a few days. For fear of the chicks getting hurt, I put them all in a cage on the coop floor. Then I’d move the cage out in the morning and back in in the evening. This was stressing everyone out, so I decided to open the cage door and let momma hen be in control. I should have done that from the beginning. I thought one hen could not protect chicks against eight other hens and way underestimated her abilities. She defended them fiercely, though only one hen tried to get at the chicks. Everyone else steered clear, wanting nothing to do with mama bear, er, hen and her ferocity. Having said that, I don’t have roosters. Do you? I would suggest providing mama a safe place where she can gather her babes, but still have the freedom to bring them out with the others when she’s ready. I agree keeping a close watch will be key.
Sorry, just reread that you have two roosters and six hens. That may be a bit tricker. I defer to those with rooster experience.
Just like with temperament, so much depends upon the individual rooster. Some just seem to ignore the babies, others... well, not so much. Also, dependent upon whether they are cooped up all day, boredom can sometimes create bullying - with helpless chicks as the target.

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