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Broody hen hatching some babies in upper nest box- Ok to lower?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by artist chick, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. artist chick

    artist chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Several weeks ago we had a hen go broody (our first one!!) and since we'd been taking everybody's eggs all along, we just put the next three eggs anyone laid under her.

    Problem is that she is in an upper nesting box. I seriously didn't think any of these would hatch and didn't really worry about it beyond trying to move her (and the eggs) to a lower box early on. She went right back up, so we put the eggs back up under her.

    Well! One of them hatched today! So now what do we do? All the info I find on babies has to do with raising them without a mama- since we have a mama to do her thing, I'm mostly concerned about how high up this box is.

    We have a chicken tractor- should we try to move her and the baby/babies to the tractor tonight? We can put a chick waterer and feeder in there and create a safer environment on the ground and away from the other adult chickens we have.

    If so- any recommendations as to the safest way to do this? This is our first time and my instinct says to move them, but I just wanted to check with all you seasoned chicken owners!

    Thank you!
     
  2. newchickmom

    newchickmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had a broody that hatched her chicks in an upper nest box. I thought I would wait till they all hatched, then move them the next day. Too Late! The next day, when I went to move them, she already had them down and was showing them where the food was! [​IMG] They were all fine. She made thier new home under the nest boxes then.
    My top tier of nest boxes is about 28" from the floor and the bottom one is about 15".
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    You are raising two questions, concerns about the height of the nesting box and whether to move them. You will likely get different opinions on both. I think both answers depend a lot on your specific set-up.

    How high is the box? I've seen a hen hatch out chicks in a hay loft 10 feet off the ground and the chicks wound up on the ground. The only way they could get there was to jump. I've seen a few posts on here of similar siuations. I'm not saying there is not a risk in this as I am sure there is some risk. I just don't know how much. This will have to be your call.

    In my opinion, whether to separate the hen and chicks depends on how much room you have. If mama has sufficient room to keep the chicks out from underfoot of the other chickens, she will protect her babies. There are always exceptions, but what normally happens is that a hen will peck at a chick, mama will severely reprimand the hen, and there are no further problems with that hen or any other. I think there are a lot of benefits of raising the babies with the flock, mainly because there are no integration issues later on. But it depends on how much room mama has to work with.

    The chicken tractor idea should work well if you decide to go that way. One complicating factor is that you don't know when mama may decide to take her chicks from the nest. I you move them too early, you may wind up with an egg not hatching that otherwise would. And if you wait too late, you may find the hen and chicks on the ground. It's a good life if you don't weaken, but sometimes it can get a little complicated.

    Hope this helps but ultimately it is your decision. Hope all 3 hatch.
     
  4. artist chick

    artist chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, ridgerunner! Good points to bring up. If we move them to the tractor, we'd do it all at once- My son will pick up the hen, i'll pick up the chick, my dh the other two eggs, we'd dash to the tractor and put them all in the spot already prepared. At least that's the plan...

    The nesting box is a 5 gallon bucket about 4 feet off the ground. so there's not much space in it, and nowhere to put water or food. I figure if we move them to the tractor we can put a small waterer and baby chick food there and they'll be easily accessible.

    Thank you so much for responding!
     
  5. artist chick

    artist chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, newchickmom! I missed your post a minute ago. Maybe everything will be fine if I just leave them alone, but I don't know! It's a bit nerve-wracking the first time! [​IMG]

    Thank you for letting me know what happened with yours!
     
  6. Three Cedars Silkies

    Three Cedars Silkies Overrun With Chickens

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    I would move them all at once...The babies will likely stay right under momma for a few days while the other chicks hatch.
     
  7. Wendyba29

    Wendyba29 Out Of The Brooder

    I have a hen that just went broody this weekend, My first one!! [​IMG] I was wondering if I let her raise the babies with the rest of the flock will the rooster harm the babies or will she protect them from him as well as the rest of the hens? I have her separated in a dog house in the coop so she can still see everyone but there is screen between them. Thanks!! [​IMG]
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:She will protect her babies. Doesn't matter if it is from a hen or a rooster.
     

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