Broody and chicks: am I doing this right?


13 Years
Mar 29, 2009
Coastal Southern California
I've successfully introduced chicks to broodies twice before but I'm still nervous about this:confused:

I slipped two chicks under my broody Buff Orpington last night. They are beneath her and I've pulled them out to check on them (making her very angry) and they seem okay, but I can't tell if she is "bonding" with them. And they aren't coming out for food and water, although they did have plenty last night before I transferred them to her.

Maybe I am worrying too much?

Here they are:
How old/young are the chicks you snuck under?
Is she is fussing at you I'd say she is doing her job.
Hi @KikisGirls I picked up the chicks at the feed store yesterday. The Blue Cochins had literally just come in off the truck. The Ameraucana might have been a day older. So I'm guessing two or three days old, max?

She yells at me when I approach. And is irritable when one of the chicks comes out from underneath her but then settles when they go back under her. So I think that's good? She has pecked at them when I bring them out from under her (I know, I need to just leave them alone) but not like she is :attacking: them. She just seems kind of in shock when she looks at them. But is at peace when they are under her.
Leave them alone!
I mean that nicely. Let her be the momma...
I'd just make sure they are able to easily (not having to jump out) able to get out of the nest to the food and water.
Is she in a separate area with the chicks..away from other chickens, so that she will feel safe bringing them out of the nest?
How long was your hen broody before you gave her the chicks. Sometimes if you give them chicks too soon they are still in "incubation mode" and take a few days to snap out of it and start caring for the chicks. I had this problem with a broody that I used to rear two abandoned wild pheasant chicks. She accepted them under her to keep them warm but she wasn't encouraging them to eat and drink and just stayed plonked down like a pancake. Thankfully the chicks were really independent in that respect and fed themselves even at just a few days old and then wriggled back under her when they needed a warm, but it took 3-4 days before she really stopped trying to hatch and started bonding and trying to care for them. Unfortunately the pheasant chicks are not really bonded with her and she has been at her wits end trying to keep them with her and look after them. Sadly one didn't make it and I've had to confine her and the other one to a crate for the chicks safety, which I hate doing.
Broodies are interesting and also fearsome creatures. There's no changing their minds about anything. They have their own internal programming.

Chicks aren't very hungry for the first few days following hatch, but you do need to make sure those chicks know how to drink and know where to find food when they're ready. Place these things within easy reach of the broody nest, which ideally should be at floor level.

If you haven't done it, make sure each chick gets its beak dipped in water and takes a sip or two. Sprinkle a few chick crumbles on the floor next to the water so they see the food. They're more likely to be interested in food if it's on the floor.

By the second or third day, the chicks should be coming out of the nest on their own to search for food regardless of the broody, but keep an eye on them to be sure.
Leave them alone!

Broodies are interesting and also fearsome creatures. There's no changing their minds about anything. They have their own internal programming

So much wisdom here! Thank you all. About an hour after I posted I was hovering over them and little Miss Chick #1 scooted out from under my broody and proceeded to vigorously peck mama on the wattle. I held my breath. Broody Bella gazed at the chick intently - and did absolutely nothing At that moment I knew we were home free.

In answer to the question, Bella had been broody three weeks. In the past I gave chicks to broodies after two weeks and it worked fine. I was a little hesitant about this one because she is only a year old and I didn't know if they need to be more "mature". But it seems to be going splendidly. Mama and chicks so happy - now I can relax.

Thank you for hand-holding.
I just introduced 2 baby chicks to my broody hen and I am a nervous wreck! She's 2 weeks broody and only got off the nest once a day for 20min max. I just put them underneath her when it was dark and closed the nesting box. I stayed for 10 min and everything was pretty quiet, just a few soft peeps of the chicks. I tried to reach in and check if they were really covered underneath her, but she pecked on me very hard, so I guess that's a good sign..? Should I check back and make sure she didn't kick them out or pecked them or rather leave alone? I couldn't see them, so they seemed to be covered when I left. I'm still so nervous. I check back first thing in the morning. The chicks are about 4 days old and I had them under the heat lamp for about 3 hrs and they ate and drank. Any advice here? Does this sound okay?

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