Broody hen and hatching chicks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mandamay28, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. mandamay28

    mandamay28 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2016
    If my hen is broody and I give her eggs to hatch, will the flock accept the chicks or are they likely to pick on them? Will I need to remove them and introduce them as I would a new chicken?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    For thousands of years, even before they were domesticated but also on farms around the world after they were domesticated, hens have been hatching and raising chicks with the flock. For many of us a broody hen hatching and raising her chicks with the flock is by far the preferred way to go. But there are also a lot of people that isolate the hen while she is hatching and/or raising the chicks. Just like practically everything with chickens there is not one way that is right for everyone while everything else is wrong. There are multiple ways that work. Sometimes certain things work better for certain people for various reasons. And something that is often missed, there are risks no matter which way you go. Dealing with living animals is like that.

    There are some things to consider. How much room do you have? In general the more room you have the easier any of this is. What is your flock make-up? This is pure personal preference but I like having a mature rooster in the flock. Most mature roosters either help the hen raise the chicks or as a minimum do them no harm. What risk you have from adults is almost certainly going to come from the hens or immature chickens, pullets or cockerels.

    In spite of a lot you read on here, if you have sufficient room the other hens don’t offer that much of a threat to start with. When a threat done happen, my broody hens have always been very capable of protecting their chicks. Others have had some problems with that. When you deal with different living animals in different set-ups and flock make-ups you can have different results.

    Whether you elect to let the hen hatch with the flock or not, collect all the eggs you want to give her and start them all at the same time. Starting them at the same time is very important so they hatch at the same time. You see some stressful posts on here from people that don’t start them at the same time, the staggered hatch drama can get pretty thick.

    It’s always a good idea to mark the eggs you want her to hatch, I use a black Sharpie and draw circles the short way and long way so I can instantly tell which ones belong. If the broody hen’s nest is open to the flock, it is always possible another hen will lay an egg in her nest. You need to check under her each day fairly late in the day after all of them have laid and remove any eggs that don’t belong. As long as you remove them daily, they are fine to eat. There are two main reasons to collect hem daily. One is to avoid staggered hatches. The other is that if the eggs build up to where she can’t cover them all, some can get pushed out, cool off, and die. Then that egg gets pulled back under and another is pushed out to die. Not good.

    If you let the hen raise the chicks with the flock, she will handle integration for you. The chicks will still have to handle pecking order issues themselves as they mature but at least they are integrated. This I another area where room is important. The more room they have the easier it is for the chicks to handle those pecking order issues once they are weaned. But if your room is that tight you will probably have integration issues when you try to integrate them if you let the hen raise them separately.

    In my opinion here is no right or wrong way to do this. There are many different variations on the general theme of allowing the hen to do all the work for you or doing part of it yourself. It’s your decision which way you want to go. Good luck!
    2 people like this.
  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK

    Providing you have enough space, the other hens should accept them and the broody hen should defend them if any of the hens do step out of line. If your broody is bottom of the pecking order and space is tight, that is when problems might occur. My broody hens all rear their chicks within a large mixed free range flock including several cockerels and I don't have any problems at all even with low ranking broody hens, but there is plenty of space for chickens to head off and forage. If they were confined to a small coop together, then there might be problems, just like any situation with overcrowding.
  4. This is the way I was told to Brood Chicks with a Hen.......Separate in a look no touch pen for the first two weeks.....Then allow the Hen and Chicks out to free range with the flock....By the time they are let out to forage with the Hen, the others are used to the sound of peeping.......The Hen will try to protect her Chicks.....It usually goes real well.....

  5. mandamay28

    mandamay28 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2016
    Thanks everyone. We have plenty of room in the coop and run and they free range most of the time. My broody hen is not at the top of the pecking order but she is not bottom either. Heres to hoping all goes well!
  6. wamtazlady

    wamtazlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2013
    Kalispell MT
    My broody even made sure the geese didn't bother her chicks. Other chickens wouldn't have had a chance to mess with her little ones. Nothing like a protective broody hen to keep chicks safe.
  7. I have one sitting on Duck eggs right

  8. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    The real reason IMO that chicks need to be sequestered for their first two weeks of life is to be sure that they stay close to mama so that she can better keep them warm and dry.

    A new chick that becomes wet is a goner.

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