Broody Hen ~ Chick adoption

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by zojo262000, Dec 3, 2014.

  1. zojo262000

    zojo262000 New Egg

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    Nov 15, 2014
    Hi we have had a broody hen for around three weeks now. We been thinking about buying a day old chick to put under her, and have been doing a lot of research but still have a lot of questions.
    * Can I introduce the chick while she's still in the coop with the other hen
    * How should I introduce the chick/s
    * What should I dp if she doesn't accept the chicks
    * The coop/run is secure for hens but there are gaps under the fence and the gaps in the fence are small enough for a chick to get out of, will the chick stay with her mum or do I need to do some major chick proofing
    * We have bought a smaller feeder, drinker, and some chick starter is there anything else I need to worry about?

    Thanks so much, please help soon :)

    Zojo
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Get the chick as young as you can and stick the chick under the hen after it is dark. Hens hatch chicks with the flock all the time so you can certainly do this in the coop with the other hen. The broody hen will feel and hear the chick under her all night and assume she hatched it. The chick can go at least three days from hatch until it needs to eat and drink and probably longer so the hen may not take it off the nest immediately. Give her time so they can bond. Don’t rush it. Let her bring the chick off the nest when she is ready.

    While the hen will probably accept the chick, especially if it is just a day or two old, you are dealing with living animals. However unlikely, it is possible she will not accept the chick. Not all broody hens accept all the chicks that hatch under them. If she does not accept the chick you will need to brood it yourself. Since they are social animals I suggest you get at least two chicks in case you do need to raise it yourself so it will have company growing up.

    Some broody hens are really good at keeping the chicks next to them all the time but some are more relaxed and let them roam more. I suggest you do some chick proofing. Also, if a chick can get out, some predators can squeeze in under the fence. You’d be amazed at how little room some fairly large predators need. What I suggest is that you take some chicken wire or some other fencing material with small holes and attach that to the bottom of your fence. Leave about 12” lying flat on the ground. You can put that on either side of the fence to keep the chicks in but it will be more effective at keeping predators out if it is on the outside of the fence.

    The chicks will eat whatever feed is available. Mama will pick out pieces of Layer and feed that to baby if Layer is available. Within a couple of weeks the baby will fly up to a high feeder to eat on its own. Layer is dangerous to the chick because of the excess calcium. The broody hen is not laying eggs so she does not need the excess calcium either. I suggest feeding all of them the Starter and offer oyster shells on the side. The hen that is still laying will eat whatever calcium she needs for her egg shells and the others will not eat enough to harm themselves.

    Your other hen will probably see any feed you put out for the chick as a special treat for her even if it is the exact same feed as she normally gets in her feeder. Don’t be surprised by that and make sure you put enough for all of them.

    Your biggest problem for water especially will probably be that you need it fairly low so the chicks can get access. The chickens will probably scratch dirt and bedding in there, making it filthy pretty quickly. Dirty water is dangerous water. You need to change it every day anyway to keep bad bugs from growing in there. You need to come up with a way to keep water available but keep it reasonably clean. A piece of plywood or something else will work, but the way I keep water available yet reasonable clean is spread a piece of carpet on top of the bedding in the coop and set a dog bowl on that. I fill the dog bowl with rocks so if the chick walks in there it does not drown. Many people use marbles but for me rocks are free. It won’t hurt for the chick’s feet to get wet but it needs to be able to walk on water, not sink and drown. I regularly have to clean the bedding off that carpet as they scratch bedding on the carpet.

    Good luck with it.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    Traditionally, broody hens do well accepting chicks slipped under them while they're sleeping. Remove any eggs or anything else she's been setting on. She's likely not to come off the nest right away, in her mind there might still be more chicks to hatch so she'll wait a day or so. She'll also be bonding with the baby who will likely be exploring the immediate area.

    I keep my broody mommas in the flock whenever possible. Momma lets the other hens know to leave the baby alone, and the baby grows up as part of the flock and learns good manners.

    My chicks have been great about finding any gaps,etc in the fence after about a week or so. At first they hang pretty tight with momma, after that they get a little bold and explore. You'll need to shore up the fencing. And remember, if a chicks can get out, a weasel or rat can get in [​IMG].

    You'll always need to be prepared to possibly brood the chicks yourself when grafting to a broody. It's pretty rare, but occasionally she won't take them. In that case, decide if you really want to brood them, or simply sell them.
     
  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    Hens tend to accept orphan chicks that are younger than her own chicks than she will accept chicks older than her own. Like another poster has already mentioned every chicken is different, so nothing is written in stone. That said, a three weeks difference in age is asking a lot. Even if she mothers the orphan she may just leave her chicks and yours to fend for themselves on the coldest night of the year. Her babies will make it, your baby chick likely will not.

    If you wish to have her raise a replacement chick for you yes she will likely accept it. However it is best to give her 6 or a half-dozen chicks to better cover every base and to cover all loses.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2014
  5. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    You've gotten some good advice above, but I would like to add a couple of things I've learned with fostering feed store chicks since my experiences have not always gone so swimmingly. I add them to the discussion in case you run into some of the same issues I've dealt with in the past. I have had to actually work to foster chicks.

    From my experiences, it totally depends on the hen as to whether she will foster a chick that she hasn't hatched. Some will, some won't, but most hens in a deep brood will. The more broody breeds, like a Silkie or Cochin, almost certainly will. Typically the hen is accepting of the new chick (unless she has older chicks of her own and she sees the new one as an intruder...which can happen if her chicks are more than just a day or two old...but it sounds like you are placing chicks with a hen that has not hatched any, so that won't be an issue).

    My fostering issues haven't been with the hen but with the feed store chicks as they have already imprinted and adapted to being brooded by a bright light. (Which is why you want to get them as young as possible...chicks quickly lose the sense to run to the hen to be brooded in the dark beneath her.) For this reason, some run right to the hen and jump in, but others do not. They may fear the big scary hen and even run away from her. Some hens are especially good at gently scooping them back under, but other hens coo and expect the chicks to come to warmth. This is not effective if the chick is fearful and tries to hide or run away. You may have to stand by and replace them until they get the idea, and then keep a close watch for the next couple of days to make sure all is going well.

    Cold weather works against you as the chicks can chill very quickly until they figure out the big hen is where home is. (I actually prefer to place fosters in warm weather as it stresses the fosters less.) I find it best to quarter off the hen from the other flock members so that foster chicks can't hide away from her and succumb to the cold, until they've all bonded well...at least 2 or 3 days...unless you plan to place a heat lamp so they can warm themselves if they won't go to the hen (but that can defeat the purpose of placing them with the broody in the first place).

    When you place the chick, do so by holding the chick in one hand (right), then with the other hand (left) gently lift the hen's tail and with a swooping motion quickly place the chick deep under her blocking her head from seeing what you are doing with your arm that is lifting her tail. What you want to avoid is having the hen try to peck you and alarm the chick. Broody hens almost always peck at the hand that moves them, and I've had hens hit the chick scaring it so they do not want to stay with her causing the bonding to take a lot longer or fail altogether. Adding at night helps with this as momma is sleepy, but it can still happen as the hen often startles awake.

    It is true the general rule of thumb is to place the chick at night so the hen thinks it is hers and it eases the placement, .however, I have learned that if the day old chick has recently made the trip to the store from the hatchery, and then makes the trip to your home, and then is held in a holding spot until placing at night, it simply can be too many travel transitions for some chicks, and I have had transition losses. I have better success placing them immediately with the hen. It's just one less transition the chick has to make and if you are placing in winter, you are taking advantage of warmer daytime weather. Of course this only works if you have a really broody hen who accepts chicks well.

    I also recommend loading the chicks up with Chick Saver/Electrolytes when you get home from the feed store before placing with the hen. Use a dropper to give them a couple of drops in the beak. It will take them a little bit to figure out mom and their new surroundings (ie food and water), and while chicks technically don't need food/water the first 3 days, having some water and electrolytes can help with the transition stresses. I have had better luck with foster chicks when I did that. I keep the Chick Saver in the water dispenser for at least 3 or 4 days until I see that they are over travel and transition stress. It honestly doesn't hurt to add some antibiotics in it either, as I've learned the number one cause of death of chicks during travel stress is an overgrowth of bacteria. You can get antibiotics at the feed store to add to the water for a few days for up to a week.

    After those first few days, I also prefer to keep the foster chicks on medicated chick feed for coccidiosis, for they were hatched off my premises and not exposed to the cocci of my soil from hatch. Feeding medicated feed is another reason I don't integrate my foster chicks and their broodies with the flock as I don't care to have my layer flock eating the medicated feed. I actually wait until they are 6 to 8 weeks old to integrate.

    Absolutely chick proof your area. If there is a small hole, they WILL go through it, strand themselves and chill to death. I once lost a chick through a hole so that it got between 2 fences that run along my property. It took me 2 hours to coax it back to where I could grab it. Fortunately it was summer and the warm weather kept it from getting overly chilled. And yes, predators love little chicken nuggets and will be drawn to the peeping sounds, so the advice of shoring up your runs and coop is well given, and add hawk netting if you don't have it. I have a Cooper's Hawk that would sit on the fence post staring at all the little chicken tenders under the hawk netting with momma screaming away.

    Good luck on finding a couple of chicks for your broody. It is a lot of fun to watch them grow up the 'natural' way.

    Lady of McCamley
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2014
  6. zojo262000

    zojo262000 New Egg

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    Nov 15, 2014
    Hi we got the baby chicks today and going to introduce them in an hour or so. We were just wondering, the nesting box opening is quite tall and we were just wondering how a baby chick would get out or if we need to make a ramp or something...
    Thanks for the replies by the way.
    ZoJo
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I don’t know what you mean by “quite tall”. I’ve seen a hen get her newly hatched chicks out of a ten feet high hay loft. Mama says jump and they do, then bounce up and run to her. I doubt your quite tall opening is anywhere near that high.

    You can build a ramp if you wish. You can pile bedding under the nest to give them a softer landing area if you wish. Whatever you do like that, you won’t bother Mama. She’ll get them down.

    It is unlikely Mama will have any interest in taking them back to the nest at night after they come out unless the nest is within a foot of the floor. Even then she is more likely to take them to a corner of the coop to spend the night. But it is a good idea to check on them when they settle down for the night. I have seen a hen take her chicks to a nest about a foot of the floor (not the one she hatched in but a lower one). Most of the chicks followed her up there but a couple didn’t make it the first night. I had to help them.
     
  8. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    I agree with RidgeRunner that mom can get them down, if they can get over the lip of the box (if that is what you meant by tall), even if the coop is raised above ground.

    If the whole coop is raised, the chicks will need a ramp until they begin to fly which is about 2 weeks of age. Until then, they can tumble down, but they can't tumble up, and will need a ramp.
    ....or Mom just sets up shop on the ground. If that is safe, that is fine...however I need them in the coop as I lock them up each night for raccoon and other predator concerns.

    If you do have a raised coop with a ramp (like I do), be prepared to help guide a chick or two the first night or two until they get the hang of going up the ramp. Mom will call them, but they may peep and peep without figuring out to just go up the ramp. I usually have 1 or 2 "slow" chicks. Put them up half way on the ramp so they have to navigate the last half, and they figure it out faster.

    Lady of McCamley
     
  9. pfields

    pfields Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our BA hen has been broody for 3+ weeks. Before our new baby chicks arrived I did some research online and found out she might take them in as her own. So we moved her into a quiet place with 6 fake eggs. First I just took out one egg and slipped in one baby chick and did the same again with another chick when that one was still safe. Later that day I took out another egg and slipped in three more chicks. All was well this morning so I took out the remaining eggs and put in 22 chicks. She is in heaven.
     
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  10. sscrain

    sscrain New Egg

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    Thank you so much to everyone who has posted on this thread. I just got some baby chicks to give to my broody hen and the information here has been extremely helpful. I have a buff laced wyandotte hen who goes broody quite easily. I have broken her from this several times, but she is determined to be a momma. Since my flock has dropped down to 2 chickens I figured now would be a good time to add some new blood. :) fingers crossed everything goes well and she takes good care of them. Thanks again for the great info and advice!
     

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