brooding in the hen house

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by cestial225, Nov 10, 2013.

  1. cestial225

    cestial225 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a broody hen setting on eggs right now. They are due next weekend. She is not seperated from the flock. I am really hoping that she can hatch the eggs and take care of her babies right there in the coop with the rest of the chickens. What do you all think? Do I need to worry about the big girls and these chicks? I really don't want to have to move her. I don't really have anywhere to put them.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    There is no right way or wrong way to do this, just the way we decide to do it. Hens have been hatching and raising chicks with the flock for thousands of years. Sometimes bad things happen, but if you try to isolate them, bad things can happen too. Some people do experience problems, maybe with the personality of their individual chickens involved or their set-up. But the majority of the time it works out great.

    My broodies hatch with the flock and just basically don’t have problems. You are dealing with living animals so anything can happen, but I just leave my broody alone. I let her decide when to bring the chicks off the nest. I do have food and water on the floor where the chicks can get to them but leave everything else up to Mama.

    She usually keeps them in the coop a couple of days before she takes them outside. At night she usually takes them to a corner of the coop and they spend the night on the floor. Notice I said usually. They don’t always do what they usually do.

    Good luck.
     
  3. res

    res Chillin' With My Peeps

    I just hatched my first set of chicks under a broody on October 17th. I think I was probably over-protecting the whole process, and I will probably lighten up next time.... But for my first time, I guess I wanted to "hover" a little bit and make sure everything went okay.

    I have 16 hens that are locked in a 8x10 coop/12x20 run at night but free range all day.

    At first, I left the broodie on her nest in the coop along with the other 15 hens having free access to the coop. I had 2 broken eggs right off the bat, and was afraid it was due to the other hens messing with the nest when mama hen was off it. So I locked the other 15 hens out of the coop and kept the mama broodie hen in the coop by herself. I had 2 more eggs break, so I think it was probably a clumsy broodie issue all along, and not the other hens.

    Since it was a bit chilly for newborn chicks outside when they hatched on October 17th, I kept the whole family locked in the coop with a heat lamp. I had to strip the coop of ALL shavings on the 2nd day because the mama hen was digging and scratching all over, and literally buried the waterer and feeder. She had 3' piles and bare floor. Crazy.

    I let the chicks and mama into the run at about a week of age. Still hadn't introduced the rest of the flock to the chicks.... I had them locked out of the run during the day. Mama and chicks still had the coop to themselves at night, too.

    Somewhere after the 2nd week of age, I started letting the mama and chicks into the run with the other 15 hens. Mama hen literally whooped all the other hens' butts, and NOBODY comes near her chicks now.

    On Friday, I let the chicks and mama out to free range with the rest of the flock, and everybody is back in the coop together at night to sleep. One big happy family.

    I haven't had any aggression issues with the other hens, but my mama hen is downright vicious. I don't expect any problems, but if she were a meeker submissive bird, I could easily see there being problems.

    I did switch the entire flock to chick starter now that everyone is together. That means I need to keep an eye on the free-choice oyster shell feeder for my layers. I used medicated starter for the 1st week while the chicks were locked in the coop, but now I am using non-medicated starter.

    That's been my experience so far... It has been a blast to watch the mama and babies together. I've been neglecting housework and just sitting outside and watching them. I hope I get the opportunity to hatch some more.

    My little "family" is 5 chicks that hatched out of 13 eggs. Next time, I won't put so many eggs under her. I am not sure how well things would work out if all 13 had hatched. It might have been too chaotic for her to keep them all safe. I think 5-7 is probably a good number for my set up, but other people may have other experiences.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    The most I’ve had a full-sized hen hatch and raise from full-sized eggs was 13 chicks out of 15 eggs. Hens and eggs come in different sizes. A bantam might have trouble covering 4 eggs, so yes, it can certainly be different. I normally set 12 eggs at a time but thought I’d try 15 that time.

    I’ve had a hen raise 15 chicks, some hers and some from an incubator. In good weather they can handle a lot. In winter, yes I’d cut back.

    The way I got around the shavings scratched into the water dish was to put a big piece of old carpet on the shavings under the dish. That made a world of difference. I use a dog bowl and put a few rocks in it so the chicks can walk in and out of it.

    I have had a few eggs break under a broody. Not very often but it has happened. Practically always they are thin shelled. I think the broody broke them turning them or walking on them, though it could have been another hen laying in the nest. That’s one of those bad things that can happen whether you isolate the broody or not, especially if you start with thin-shelled eggs.
     

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