Broody hen hatched eggs...Help!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Juliechickens, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. Juliechickens

    Juliechickens Songster

    Apr 7, 2007
    Memphis, TN
    So my silkie broody hen has managed to hatch a couple of her eggs so far today. It was a surprise even though I knew we were getting close as she has been sitting on her eggs a while now. She also has a foster hen who is broody helping with the hatching process. They are very good friends. Anyways,,,I have never done this with a broody hen. I have hatched my own eggs in incubators and then placed the chicks in the brooder. I need to know exactly what I should do to help my 2 broody hens.
    They are both still on about 12-15 more eggs waiting to hatch. I took the 2 chicks that hatched and put them in my brooder which was already set up anyways with a red light. I added food and water and made the 2 chicks take a drink before I put them in the brooder. They are both real strong and looking perfect! Cute fluffy yellow chicks. Now,,,,I ran and grabbed my chicken books and started reading what to do in this instance but they are not real specific. One book says to take the chicks from the mom and place them into a brooder during the day and return the chicks to the nest with mom at night while she continues to hatch more of her eggs. Do you all agree with this???
    I don't want to take moms off the nest as they still have more eggs to hatch but I also don't want them to panic that I took their babies either. What do I do??? What do yall recommend?? The broody hens are in a nest in the barn. My brooder is inside my house and it is comfy and cozy for the newly hatched chicks. Should I return the chicks to the nest tonight or not? Please advise. P.S. I'm curious,,,how do the momma hens feed those chicks after they hatch?? I realize the chick absorbs the egg before it hatches but I mean after does a momma hen feed it's chick or does it? My nesting boxes are up off the ground so there was no way for the babies to get down to the ground. It's a good thing I found them when I did. I'm just in a small panic as this is new to me. Please write [​IMG] Thank you, Julie [​IMG]
  2. jaime

    jaime In the Brooder

    Jun 21, 2007
    Hi, I would say to leave the babies in the nest with the momma and let them manage the babies for now. I let my OE bantam go throught this exactly last season. Even with lowered temperatures the hen will be enitrely able to keep them warm and protected. I think that you should let the nest take its course, at least for awhile longer, so as to let the other eggs hatch and reduce disturbance.

    AS for feeding, the chicks are self-sufficient on their acquired nutrients/yolk matter left from the egg. The absorption of this matter lets them be able to manage without food temporarily in the first day or two. When I did this, I put a chick feeder with chick feed near the hen (up in the nesting area) and a hamster waterer (the kind that has a little metal tube with a ball in the tip, so drips are this to the chicks there). Show them the food too. It might be pretty close to the hen/nest but that is fine. I have a ramp to my nesting area, and, after 10 days she carefully let them follow her down the ramp. A ramp might be useful to you. You can see mine in my photos and videos sections of my myspace page: The first day or two i had to helpthe chicks get back up the ramp at dusk, but then they learned for themselves--I even have a movie of that on my myspace. If you want, you can move them to the brooder when they are all hatched, but, I let them hen do it and it was an awesome learning experience.
  3. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    Since your nest box is up off the ground, I would definately take the babies and put them in the brooder. I dont think the moms will notice too much, since there are so many eggs in the nest yet. When they are finished hatching, is there a place you can put momma's and babies away from the others? Maybe start now building a place, and when the last one hatches, after the babies back under momma's in thier safe place. Its so fun to watch the hens with thier babies.
  4. jaime

    jaime In the Brooder

    Jun 21, 2007
    julie, do remember to buy a good chick feed. (it doesnt really matter if the hen eats it too). Oh, and when I say show the food and water to the chicks, I mean to touch their beaks to the food and water.
  5. austinhart123

    austinhart123 Songster

    Mar 12, 2008
    Los Angeles CA
    It is best to let the moms do their job, they will be able to manage the chicks. give the babies back to mom and once more hatch, move the nest to the ground.
  6. Juliechickens

    Juliechickens Songster

    Apr 7, 2007
    Memphis, TN
    Hey Ladies! It's good to hear from my ole friends. I apologize for not jumping on here too often. It seems I only come when I have a problem! I'm sorry. I'm just not a big computer gooroo. I used to be but not I have taken up crocheting and I enjoy that in my free time instead of the computer [​IMG] Anyways, though I thank you for your great answers! They all make since. Let me explain my nesting boxes situation a little better. My barn is small. It was a new shed we converted into a chicken house [​IMG] My hubby added roosting bars and a bunch of nesting boxes along the back wall. We have 2 rows of nesting boxes from wall to wall. The 2 broody hens are in the bottom row. It's about a 1foot jump to the bottom of the box they are in. Well,,,actually,,,it may be about 2 feet. I've never used a ramp as the hens have always managed to jump into the boxes as they need to. Plus there is a bar that goes in front of each box so they can perch on that if they want. Anyways,,,during the day of course,,,,all the other birds leave the barn and go wandering around the yard and such except when another hen wants to lay an egg she will go back to the barn. But at night,,,,allllll the birds sleep in the barn. I have 3 silkie roos and one bantam frizzle roo along with about 15 hens of various breeds. Some are standards, some are bantams but they all get along great. It's really funny. The roosters are very protective right now especially the leader roo who tries to peck at my feet when I go collect eggs. He is only doing his job of course while the 2 girls are broody. Normally, he would never peck at me. Anyways,,,my point here is that I've never used a ramp for the birds to get out of the boxes and if I put one in there I don't believe momma birds would even use it to help the chicks down. Also,,,I have to wonder how the rest of the flock would treat the 2 little babies I have. I have both babies in the brooder and they have been eating and drinking non-stop so I know they must have been hungry. They look at least a day old maybe older to me. Very strong and healthy chicks. They are very content under their red light with food and water. I just went out to the barn to check on my broody hens and they are very relaxed looking and don't seem to notice that the 2 chicks are gone. I'm actually glad I brought them in for the time being so they could eat and all.
    Now as far as putting food in the nest box with the broody hens and eggs,,,welll,,,,,it's a tight nitch right now. It's a 12x12 wood box and one silkie hen (who is small of course) but the other broody hen who is sharing in motherhood with her is actually a standard white cochin! She is one of my leader hens. Both of the 2 are leader hens of the flock. Because of the big white standard cochin hen being in with the silkie and all the eggs underneath,,,there is not much room for food or drink [​IMG] I could place a little food down in the back where I found the chicks but I don't have anything to latch a waterer on to since it's solid wood boxes....understand? Oh and by the way,,,not to worry,,,I always keep Macmurray chick starter and feed handy! [​IMG]
    Sooooo,,,the 2 chicks are content in the brooder and the momma birds are content in the barn still at work trying to hatch more eggs. I may leave things as they are but I guess if somebody looks panicked I will return the chicks to the barn with their moms. After all the chicks have hatched and all this is over,,,I will bring the silkie inside with the babies so she can stay with them and be momma. I'm just a little nervous about how the rest of the flock of birds will do if I placed the little chicks in the barn outside of the nest. I don't "think" the birds would mess with them but I have no clue as I've never expeirienced this before and I would hate to take a chance and one of the babies gets pecked on the head [​IMG] I have 2 6 month old silkie roosters that I have kept inside my house their whole life expcept for day time outings when the flock isn't time I let them out amoung the flock and one of my roosters pecked my 5 month old roosters on the head and his head has been a little strange ever since. He sometimes holds it sideways,,,,but that's a whole other story. Strange things is,,,the rooster is a silkie who did this to the other silkie young rooster [​IMG] I have no idea why except for maybe because the young one is a buff silkie and he looks different. I have 2 buff silkies but only one got pecked. I was so mad. Since then , I keep my buff silkies inside at night instead of the barn with the others. They are still young and small so I'm a little over protective. One of them is starting to crow though...oh my gosh,,,,you know that horrid sound they make when they first learn,,,,it makes my skin crawl....YUK! It's funny though. Oh well,,,didn't mean to write yall a book,,,just haven't chatted in so long , I always have to catch up with everyone. Hey thanks for comforting me. It was quite a surprise to find the babies this morning. Over the winter I had 2 other birds go broody and they sat on their nest for a month with not a bird hatching in the bunch. Finally, they got over it and left the nest. I got my hubby to go collect the old eggs after they finally got up.....and one exploded as my hubby gathered it...ROFLOLLLLL...ohhhh it was so funny and he was so mad,,,,I'm so glad it happened to him instead of me!! LOL Anyways,,,my point is that because we didn't get a hatch last time,,,I wasn't so sure if this one would work out or not. I knew we were getting close to day 21 though and this morning my hubby found an egg shell on the floor barn that had been kicked out and it had blood vessles in it. He showed it to me and asked me if I thought that had been a fertille egg or not,,,I said "absolutely",,,,it took about 3 seconds before it registered in my head that the egg looked exactly like the egg shells did after I had hatched chicks in an incubator. I took off running to the barn gently lifted up the 2 momma bird's tails and "BOOP" out popped 2 little chicky heads chirping! Ohhh so cute!!!! I was so excited, I ran and got my daughter to come help me get the brooder ready with food and water and clean paper and such. I use newspapers with paper towels on top for bedding at first in my brooder. Like I said,,,the chicks were hungry as they stood and ate for a solid hour after I placed them in the brooder. Now they are resting happily. I'm proud of my 2 momma hens,,,,little silkie hen who I've always called "Lovey" since she is very loving and calm. The big white cochin hen I'm just calling Momma Bird now [​IMG] They are side by side in the nesting box. Very cute. They look like different species performing the same job side by side. What a good day for me today [​IMG] If you think of anything else I need to know,,,please add on!!! [​IMG] And thank you all for your time , I really appreciate the help and comfort. Julie [​IMG]
  7. hippichick

    hippichick Songster

    Apr 13, 2008
    Branch, La
    I have a cochin frizzle bantam hen who has been hatching eggs for 3 days now. She's hatched 3 so far, and I've taken each one from her to put into the brooder. She really doesn't seem to mind, and so far she's stayed on her nest. So as long as the hen doesn't mind , I think its okay to do this. I've found that if I don't do this, they'll hatch a few, then leave the nest to care for the chicks. And eggs that might have hatched are lost.
  8. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    IMO, the whole point of having a broody hen hatch eggs herself is so that you DON'T have to do the work of taking care of the chicks -- the momma does everything. The brooder and heat lamps etc are just poor imitation for perfect hen mothering. I wouldn't take the chicks away from her and give yourself all that unnecessary work!

    When my hen hatched eggs in a place that was in the henhouse with the others, and up high, I built a little temporary pen around them so she could keep hatching and stacked 2 straw bales to put it on their level, so that they could have some separation from the other chickens. After 3-4 days and no more eggs hatching, I moved momma and chickies to a better, separate pen so they could bond and learn the ropes. After a week or two, I let momma take them back into the henhouse where she protected the chickies from the others and the chickies could already fly a little. In my experience, chickies raised by their momma are healthier, smarter, faster, fly sooner, know how to hide from danger, and are more agile than chickies raised in a brooder.

    Also, as for feeding, the momma hen naturally will "show" her chickies how and what to eat. She'll take a morsel of food (piece of corn for example) and will crack it into tiny pieces with her beak. Then she'll signal her chicks to come over and with a special "eat this" call. It's pretty amazing to watch. It takes the chicks a while to figure out why she's calling them over to her, but eventually they get it and start eating the little bits she's broken up for them.

    Best of luck!
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2008
  9. Godiva

    Godiva Songster

    May 17, 2007
    Yup, I would keep them with momma. I have had chicks both ways and I was amazed at the difference there was between the ones that stayed with momma (there was a couple days between the first and last hatching) and she didn't budge off that nest til they were done. The chicks that were with momma were so strong and sharp and just very very different from the ones raised in a brooder. Our hen went broody in the late fall and it was already really cold but Calypso kept them all as snug as bugs! And the little sounds she made to show them the food and water were too sweet for words! Similar to what our roo does when he finds some particularly nice morsel for his ladies. We did have an area closed off for Momma and chicks for quite some time because the chicks are too vulnerable to picking by birds that are so much bigger. It doesn't take long for a big bird to destroy a chick - don't risk it until they are bigger and more able to take care of themselves... good luck figuring out how you're going to do this...

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