Brooding Jersey Giant in nest

pctechtx

In the Brooder
Aug 30, 2021
15
49
49
East Texas
I didn't expect this to happen from reading about JG. I bought an incubator and put 6 eggs in it and apparently a hen decided she wants to race and see who hatches first. God is miraculous. I figure I got 18 days till hatching. She's in a box about 20 inches from floor in the coop. My concerns are her safely having them in the coop. I got 7 hens and a roo. They free range my backyard. I also provide egg laying feed which they weren't eating as much until the temps started to drop. Lows have been in the low 50's here in E TX.

Here are my concerns/questions:
I need to purchase a chick feeder and waterer, correct?
Should I separate her from the flock (not sure on JG mentality, I haven't noticed any very aggressive behaviors)?
Do I need to supplement heat or does the hen do enough to keep them warm this late in the year?
If the hen can safely raise them and if I have success with incubator, can I take those chicks and put with her chicks?
Is there anything beside chick feed that I should purchase before my flock increases?
Any idea on an average weight of the JG when you can tell the sex? (I'm considering freezing the roo's but have no idea how long they need to get big enough or when they'll become a nuisance for my original roo or hens...)
How deep of water can a chick drown in?
Since there is an outdoor tom cat, I will need to provide protection for the chicks? (Or is the mamma hen able to protect them?)

I look forward to your responses,
Blessings🙏
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
34,570
281,752
1,642
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
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I wrote an article on Managing Broody Hens. Give it a read. It will give you answers to many of your questions in more detail.
Have you marked her eggs so that you can remove any eggs another hens places in her nest? You do NOT want a staggered hatch. It complicates everything.
I need to purchase a chick feeder and waterer, correct?
No. The entire flock needs to be put on chick starter or Flock Raiser. Mom feeds the chicks.
Put out a container or two of oyster shell on the side for the active layers. This is the way I feed all the time.
Should I separate her from the flock (not sure on JG mentality, I haven't noticed any very aggressive behaviors)?
I wouldn't.
Do I need to supplement heat or does the hen do enough to keep them warm this late in the year?
Mom is your incubator and your brooder. Far better than anything a human can do.
I had a hen hatch 8 chicks in April in NY. When the chicks were just under a week old, it snowed 3" and night time temps were in the mid 20s, day time high 30s. All the chicks thrived with their mother.
If the hen can safely raise them and if I have success with incubator, can I take those chicks and put with her chicks?
How many eggs total? JGs are pretty big. Are they all on the same day of incubation?
Is there anything beside chick feed that I should purchase before my flock increases?
I would make a baby bottle.
baby bottle close up.png

How large is your coop?
Any idea on an average weight of the JG when you can tell the sex?
It's not weight, it's age. I have had 100% accuracy sexing my own chicks by 6 weeks. Post pictures of them at that age and it's usually pretty easy to tell the cockerels from the pullets.
How deep of water can a chick drown in?
An inch. You don't want them getting wet.
Because your hen is setting in a nest box, you can't move her. There is too much risk in her breaking. Otherwise, I'd tell you to hang the baby bottle in with her on the incubation nest where she can reach it. She would then teach the chicks to drink form it and bring them back to it as needed.
I keep the adult fount waterer up on a block about 8" high. It's too high for the chicks to get into until they can fly at around 2 weeks old. By then, they are big enough to handle it.
Since there is an outdoor tom cat, I will need to provide protection for the chicks? (Or is the mamma hen able to protect them?)
How often does the cat interact with the flock? A chick that wandered off from mom would be vulnerable.
 

pctechtx

In the Brooder
Aug 30, 2021
15
49
49
East Texas
I wrote an article on Managing Broody Hens. Give it a read. It will give you answers to many of your questions in more detail.
Have you marked her eggs so that you can remove any eggs another hens places in her nest? You do NOT want a staggered hatch. It complicates everything.
No, I haven't moved her or caught her off the nest. Not sure what she is sitting on.
Are they all on the same day of incubation?
I'm not sure. I know that I put eggs in incubator on the 15th and noticed a hen was staying on a nest the next day. It's likely that it will be offset.
I would make a baby bottle.
View attachment 2871633
Is that a nipple attachment you just add to a bottle? My incubator came with some cups that you can attach to a water bottle. Was thinking of setting it in her nest but read the cups suck for most users because it needs something in the cup moved for it to fill the cup.
How large is your coop?
Their roosting area is about 6ft tall, 6 feet wide and four feet deep. Their protected enclosure is about 20'x 12'.
It's not weight, it's age. I have had 100% accuracy sexing my own chicks by 6 weeks. Post pictures of them at that age and it's usually pretty easy to tell the cockerels from the pullets.
I'm attempting to understand age/weight. I don't want to add roo's. My question is more about what they weigh at 6 weeks (or whenever the roo's will start being sexually active or harassing)
Because your hen is setting in a nest box, you can't move her. There is too much risk in her breaking. Otherwise, I'd tell you to hang the baby bottle in with her on the incubation nest where she can reach it. She would then teach the chicks to drink form it and bring them back to it as needed.
the nest box is big. I believe I could put a small bottle and a feeder in it safely.
How often does the cat interact with the flock? A chick that wandered off from mom would be vulnerable.
I see the cat drinking from the chickens different water containers and watched it attempt to pounce on a few hens unsuccessfully. Not sure what to do. The cat doesn't provide anything useful. Might relocate it. It keeps tearing up window screens and trying to trip everyone. My dad's in his 70's and I don't like the cat being a possibility of causing him to fall.


Thanks for your words. I will check out the article you linked. Blessings
 
Last edited:

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,035
22,664
907
Southeast Louisiana
I need to purchase a chick feeder and waterer, correct?........How deep of water can a chick drown in?
I don't know what you have to work with so I don't know if you have to purchase anything. You need to provide food and water where the chicks can get to it. I don't put any food or water in the nest but wait for the hen to bring them off the nest before they get food or water like chicks hatched by broody hens have been doing for thousands of years. But you can if you want to. I'd be cautious about getting the nest wet. I don't think spolled food would matter.

I've used different waterers both in the brooder when I don't have a broody or out when I'm raising them with the flock. I've settled on this as my preferred waterer when chicks are involved. I use plywood and 2x4's to build a slightly elevated platform and cut a hole in it for the waterer. The chicks can hop up on the plywood and drink. Elevating it a bit and having that platform on the bedding reduces how much bedding gets scratched in the water. With small chicks I fill this with rocks so they can walk on water without drowning or getting wet. They will walk on the rocks and poop in the water so you need to dump this regularly (I do every day). They need clean water plus dumping it keeps the mosquitoes from breeding in it.

Grow out Water.JPG


I've never tried the nipples, some people really love them. I've tried these chick waterers
Chick Waterer.JPG

built my own gravity waterer
Waterer.jpg

and just set a bowl on some bricks. Yes, that is ice, it was +4 F when I took that photo.
Ice.jpg


The gravity waterer and chick waterer need to be very level or they will leak. There are lots of different ways you can provide water. Chicks can drown in pretty shallow water. They can handle getting their feet wet and maybe a little wet on their bottoms, but you don't want them to wet enough that they can chill. Broody hens raise chicks where they get their water from farm ponds or streams so they are not that delicate.

As far as feeders it just needs to be something they can get to. Again, there are all kinds of things you can use. I use these buckets with holes cut in them for the entire flock. When I have baby chicks I set one of these on the ground. By the time the chicks are two weeks old they are flying up to my suspended feeders. So if you don't want your chicks eating a calcium rich diet all the chickens need to be eating the same thing.

Leakage.JPG


Should I separate her from the flock (not sure on JG mentality, I haven't noticed any very aggressive behaviors)?
Some people isolate the broody hen and chicks from the flock no matter what breed. I never do, no matter what breed. That's a personal decision. I have lots of room inside and outside so my broody hens have room to work. Many people don't have that kind of space. It sounds like you do.

Do I need to supplement heat or does the hen do enough to keep them warm this late in the year?
You do not need to supplement heat. All that will do is confuse your hen and chicks. Trust your broody, they almost always know more by instinct than we will ever know.

If the hen can safely raise them and if I have success with incubator, can I take those chicks and put with her chicks?
You can try. The closer in age they are the better your chances. Some hens will raise any chick, some don't, so I can't give you any guarantees. But if they are less than 3 days apart in age I'd try it. Often when I have a hen go broody I stick some eggs in the incubator, all started at the same time. Sometimes things go wrong under a hen or in the incubator. This way the hen has chicks to raise.

Is there anything beside chick feed that I should purchase before my flock increases?
I don't know what you already have or what your facilities look like. Since you say they free range and you have a large coop I think they will be fine as long as they can get to food and water. Depending on the condition of your turf in the yard, you may be surprised at how little feed they actually eat and how much time the hen has them foraging in the yard.

Any idea on an average weight of the JG when you can tell the sex? (I'm considering freezing the roo's but have no idea how long they need to get big enough or when they'll become a nuisance for my original roo or hens...)
All this is going to be a personal decision. Go by what you see, not some predetermined schedule.

Since there is an outdoor tom cat, I will need to provide protection for the chicks? (Or is the mamma hen able to protect them?)
I have no idea. Some cats are perfectly safe around chicks, some are not. Most broody hens protect their chicks and cats can be real cowards when a hen stands up to them. But a cat might ambush a chick before the hen has time to respond. Many farms with broody hens ranging with their chicks have cats for rodent control. Often it is not a problem but the risk is there.

I like having a cat on rodent patrol. From what you said about the cat, especially about your concerns for your Dad, that cat would still be gone if it were my choice.

She's in a box about 20 inches from floor in the coop. .......... the nest box is big.
I've seen a broody hen get chicks out of a hayloft 10' high. She said jump and they did, then bounced up and ran to her. I've had a broody hen hatch in a nest about 4' off the coop floor. The hen has never had a problem getting her chicks safely to the coop floor. If your nest were small I'd have some concerns but it's not small.

I leave my broody hens alone until they decide to bring the chicks to the coop floor. I leave that decision to them, I trust my broody hens. When the chicks get hungry they tell the hen. All I do is have food and water on the coop floor where the chicks can get to it. They never go back to the nest. At night the broody settles down on the coop floor and takes care of her chicks from there.

Have you marked her eggs so that you can remove any eggs another hens places in her nest? You do NOT want a staggered hatch. It complicates everything.
This is definitely worth repeating. The other hens can be laying eggs in the broody hen's nest. That's not good for different reasons. I strongly suggest you mark the eggs (I use a black sharpie) so you can tell which eggs belong. Then every day after the others have finished laying check under her and remove any that don't belong. As long as you check every day you can still use the new eggs.

You can pick her out of the nest and set her on the coop floor. She will probably lay there for a minute or two and them either go back to her nest or run outside to get some food and water, probably take a dump. If she is truly broody this will not break her from being broody. I usually just reach in and lift the broody up so I can look under her..
A broody hen can peck and it can hurt. When I was a kid my job was to collect the eggs every day. That included under broody hens that had the eggs marked. Most broody hens weren't that bad but occasionally one would peck hard. That can hurt. But I still checked. No way was I going to tell my Dad that I was afraid of a broody hen. I did not use gloves or long sleeves. You have that option if she hurts.

You may have noticed that Dobie and I do things differently. That's really common on this forum, we do these things all sorts of different ways. It's not that there is only one way to do anything, usually there are several different ways that can work. Our individual circumstances may point to one way being better than another for some of us but don't get hung up on the idea that there is only one right way.

Good luck. I'm feeling fairly good about your chances, especially with all that room.
 

pctechtx

In the Brooder
Aug 30, 2021
15
49
49
East Texas
I don't know what you have to work with so I don't know if you have to purchase anything. You need to provide food and water where the chicks can get to it. I don't put any food or water in the nest but wait for the hen to bring them off the nest before they get food or water like chicks hatched by broody hens have been doing for thousands of years. But you can if you want to. I'd be cautious about getting the nest wet. I don't think spolled food would matter.

I've used different waterers both in the brooder when I don't have a broody or out when I'm raising them with the flock. I've settled on this as my preferred waterer when chicks are involved. I use plywood and 2x4's to build a slightly elevated platform and cut a hole in it for the waterer. The chicks can hop up on the plywood and drink. Elevating it a bit and having that platform on the bedding reduces how much bedding gets scratched in the water. With small chicks I fill this with rocks so they can walk on water without drowning or getting wet. They will walk on the rocks and poop in the water so you need to dump this regularly (I do every day). They need clean water plus dumping it keeps the mosquitoes from breeding in it.

View attachment 2873488

I've never tried the nipples, some people really love them. I've tried these chick waterers
View attachment 2873496
built my own gravity waterer
View attachment 2873498
and just set a bowl on some bricks. Yes, that is ice, it was +4 F when I took that photo.
View attachment 2873497

The gravity waterer and chick waterer need to be very level or they will leak. There are lots of different ways you can provide water. Chicks can drown in pretty shallow water. They can handle getting their feet wet and maybe a little wet on their bottoms, but you don't want them to wet enough that they can chill. Broody hens raise chicks where they get their water from farm ponds or streams so they are not that delicate.

As far as feeders it just needs to be something they can get to. Again, there are all kinds of things you can use. I use these buckets with holes cut in them for the entire flock. When I have baby chicks I set one of these on the ground. By the time the chicks are two weeks old they are flying up to my suspended feeders. So if you don't want your chicks eating a calcium rich diet all the chickens need to be eating the same thing.

View attachment 2873509


Some people isolate the broody hen and chicks from the flock no matter what breed. I never do, no matter what breed. That's a personal decision. I have lots of room inside and outside so my broody hens have room to work. Many people don't have that kind of space. It sounds like you do.


You do not need to supplement heat. All that will do is confuse your hen and chicks. Trust your broody, they almost always know more by instinct than we will ever know.


You can try. The closer in age they are the better your chances. Some hens will raise any chick, some don't, so I can't give you any guarantees. But if they are less than 3 days apart in age I'd try it. Often when I have a hen go broody I stick some eggs in the incubator, all started at the same time. Sometimes things go wrong under a hen or in the incubator. This way the hen has chicks to raise.


I don't know what you already have or what your facilities look like. Since you say they free range and you have a large coop I think they will be fine as long as they can get to food and water. Depending on the condition of your turf in the yard, you may be surprised at how little feed they actually eat and how much time the hen has them foraging in the yard.


All this is going to be a personal decision. Go by what you see, not some predetermined schedule.


I have no idea. Some cats are perfectly safe around chicks, some are not. Most broody hens protect their chicks and cats can be real cowards when a hen stands up to them. But a cat might ambush a chick before the hen has time to respond. Many farms with broody hens ranging with their chicks have cats for rodent control. Often it is not a problem but the risk is there.

I like having a cat on rodent patrol. From what you said about the cat, especially about your concerns for your Dad, that cat would still be gone if it were my choice.


I've seen a broody hen get chicks out of a hayloft 10' high. She said jump and they did, then bounced up and ran to her. I've had a broody hen hatch in a nest about 4' off the coop floor. The hen has never had a problem getting her chicks safely to the coop floor. If your nest were small I'd have some concerns but it's not small.

I leave my broody hens alone until they decide to bring the chicks to the coop floor. I leave that decision to them, I trust my broody hens. When the chicks get hungry they tell the hen. All I do is have food and water on the coop floor where the chicks can get to it. They never go back to the nest. At night the broody settles down on the coop floor and takes care of her chicks from there.


This is definitely worth repeating. The other hens can be laying eggs in the broody hen's nest. That's not good for different reasons. I strongly suggest you mark the eggs (I use a black sharpie) so you can tell which eggs belong. Then every day after the others have finished laying check under her and remove any that don't belong. As long as you check every day you can still use the new eggs.

You can pick her out of the nest and set her on the coop floor. She will probably lay there for a minute or two and them either go back to her nest or run outside to get some food and water, probably take a dump. If she is truly broody this will not break her from being broody. I usually just reach in and lift the broody up so I can look under her..
A broody hen can peck and it can hurt. When I was a kid my job was to collect the eggs every day. That included under broody hens that had the eggs marked. Most broody hens weren't that bad but occasionally one would peck hard. That can hurt. But I still checked. No way was I going to tell my Dad that I was afraid of a broody hen. I did not use gloves or long sleeves. You have that option if she hurts.

You may have noticed that Dobie and I do things differently. That's really common on this forum, we do these things all sorts of different ways. It's not that there is only one way to do anything, usually there are several different ways that can work. Our individual circumstances may point to one way being better than another for some of us but don't get hung up on the idea that there is only one right way.

Good luck. I'm feeling fairly good about your chances, especially with all that room.

I really appreciate all this information and difference in perspective.
I think I have enough information to make things as safe as possible.

Couple more question:
does mamma hen pick up the chicks similar to dogs and cats?
My lowest roost rung is probably 3 -3.5' from ground. Should I add a shorter one? If yes, what height would you suggest from y'all's experience?

Blessings and thank y'all very much.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,035
22,664
907
Southeast Louisiana
does mamma hen pick up the chicks similar to dogs and cats?
I have not seen that.

My lowest roost rung is probably 3 -3.5' from ground. Should I add a shorter one? If yes, what height would you suggest from y'all's experience?
I would not if you are thinking about the chicks. At some point Mama will probably take them to the roosts. That's typically around 4 to 5 weeks of age for mine. Until then they sleep on the coop floor under or with Mama. In warm weather I've seen some chicks sleep on or next to Mama, not all of them slept under her.

The youngest I've seen a broody take her chicks to my 5' high roosts was two weeks. They flew up to the top of one of my nests, which was about 3 feet up. Then they flew another two feet up and three feet horizontally. From watching them it was obvious they could have gone further if they really wanted to. If your broody tries to take them to the roost they can probably make it.

I've had broody hens wean their chicks as young as 3 weeks. Some wait until after they are 2 months old to wean them. Mama never took the ones weaned at 3 weeks to the roost, they hade to find their own way on their schedule. You never know for sure what will happen.
 

pctechtx

In the Brooder
Aug 30, 2021
15
49
49
East Texas
I have not seen that.


I would not if you are thinking about the chicks. At some point Mama will probably take them to the roosts. That's typically around 4 to 5 weeks of age for mine. Until then they sleep on the coop floor under or with Mama. In warm weather I've seen some chicks sleep on or next to Mama, not all of them slept under her.

The youngest I've seen a broody take her chicks to my 5' high roosts was two weeks. They flew up to the top of one of my nests, which was about 3 feet up. Then they flew another two feet up and three feet horizontally. From watching them it was obvious they could have gone further if they really wanted to. If your broody tries to take them to the roost they can probably make it.

I've had broody hens wean their chicks as young as 3 weeks. Some wait until after they are 2 months old to wean them. Mama never took the ones weaned at 3 weeks to the roost, they hade to find their own way on their schedule. You never know for sure what will happen.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I appreciate y'all helping me understand chicken behavior better. Many blessings.
 

pctechtx

In the Brooder
Aug 30, 2021
15
49
49
East Texas
Just an update, she's only sitting on one egg and a dummy egg.
Question for y'all.
Once she hatches the one, what are the odds that if I take my incubated eggs that hatch and I put the chicks with her in the nest that she'll adopt?
Or is better for me to make a brooder and raise them in it?
 

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