Broody hen in nesting box

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by fireflaps, Jun 15, 2016.

  1. fireflaps

    fireflaps New Egg

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    Jun 15, 2016
    Scotland
    I have four hens and one is currently sitting on 6 bought-in fertisilised eggs.
    I did not move her when she went broody and when I since tried, she refused to go back on the eggs until I moved them back.

    The four hens live in a chicken coop with two nesting boxes and two roosting perches. They have a run but it's currently left open and they get the whole of my back yard.

    Do I wait until the chicks are born then move mum and chicks into the run and close them in there while the chicks grow bigger? That way the others will still see them, and will have access to the seperate coop. Will mum be fine sitting in a box on its side full of straw with the chicks at night?

    This is my first go at raising chicks - I had no intention of doing so until I saw my hen go broody and hadnt the heart to not let her have a shot at it!

    Thanks
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    There are many different ways to do this. For thousands of years hens have been raising chicks with the flock with no isolation or separation. It’s the way I do it. I consider it the most stress-free method, let Mama do all the work. I’ve never lost a chick to another adult flock member doing it this way. I know others have.

    For their own reasons some people like to isolate the broody hen and her chicks, many isolating the hen while she incubates and hatches. Then they have to worry about the things you are worrying about, how and when do I separate them, how and when do I reintegrate the hen, how and when do I integrate the chicks. Since I don’t do it that way I’ll let others discuss how they do it. Lots of people do it that way. It works too.

    I let the hen hatch with the flock, bring her chicks off the nest when she is ready, and let her take care of the chicks from then until she weans them. After she brings them off the nest I clean out the nest. Before she brings them off the nest I have food and water where the chicks can get to them. That’s basically all I do, Mama does the rest. At night Mama normally takes them to a corner of the coop where they sleep on the ground.
     
  3. fireflaps

    fireflaps New Egg

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    Jun 15, 2016
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    That is really helpful thanks! I'd like to do it as naturally as possible as that does make sense to me too (and is far less labour intensive!)
    My only worry now is that when the chicks try to venture out of the nesting box they will fall straight into the poop under the roosting perches in the coop and many not be able to clamber out and down the little ramp. When they start wandering is that the time to clean up their nest and put a new one at floor level in the run for them and mum?
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’m not sure what your set-up looks like. I don’t know how high it is or where it is positioned relative to other things in the coop. I’ve seen hens get baby chicks out of a ten foot high hat loft. Mama says jump and they do, then they bounce up and run to Mama. Pure height doesn’t bother me and evidently it doesn’t bother the chicks. I do have one caveat to that. How big is the nest? Hos close to an edge does the hen sit? I once had a hen hatch in a 7-1/2” x 11-1/2” kitty litter bucket. The first baby chicks that hatch often like to climb up on Mama’s back. If Mama is sitting real close to an edge they might miss the nest when they fall off. I had to toss chicks back in with Mama four times that hatch, then I retired that nest. If your nest is normal sized, and especially if it is mostly enclosed, and she is not sitting right at the edge this is not a problem. That’s the only time I’ve ever had that happen, with that tiny nest.

    The chicks probably won’t use the ramp, they’ll probably just jump down. It depends a lot on what Mama tells them to do.

    I don’t know what your broody hen will do when it is bedtime. Mine normally take the chicks to a corner of the coop and spend the night on the floor with them. I do not provide a nest for them. You can if you want to, Mama might use it. She might even try to take them back up the ramp to a nest. Mine don’t do that but some people on the forum say theirs have.

    I think it is a good idea to go down there at bedtime just to see what is going on. Everything will probably be fine but I think it is a good precaution just to make sure.

    A warning. Chicks like to crawl up under Mama’s wings and in her feathers. Be very careful if you try to pick up the broody hen. I killed a chick once when I picked up a broody to see what color her chicks were after she brought them off the nest. One was under her wing and I crushed it. That taught me to leave a broody hen and her chicks alone.

    After the hen brings her chicks off the nest and onto the coop floor, remove the old nesting material and put in new. That old bedding is messed up.
     
  5. fireflaps

    fireflaps New Egg

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    Jun 15, 2016
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    This is my coop and run. The last pic shows Bob sitting on her eggs in the right hand nesting box...
    Will the chicks be able to navigate over the roosting area/straw/poop etc to get to the ramp and outside do you think?
    I was considering portioning the inside of the coop into two parts for the first day or two, stopping the chicks and mum getting out and lay a board over half of the roosting area to put the chick feed on...?

    Loving your help so far by the way,
    Thanks!

    Sarah
     
  6. Chicky1981

    Chicky1981 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello. I have just hatched off eggs for the first time. I was worried about keeping my chicks within the flock but I am glad I did. I built a barrier in my house out of chicken wire the day before the eggs were due to hatch to protect mum and chicks and give them time to bond. It meant my other 2 girls could see the chicks and know they are there. I put food and water in the house for mum and chicks. After a week I removed the barrier and mum and chicks are now living with my other 2 ladies. I do let the other 2 out in the garden for some of the day but they always visit the run to say hi to mum and the chicks. I plan to let them have a bit of free range time tomorrow in the sectioned off bit I have around the coop. My garden is not very chick friendly (too many places for them to get out) so they will have to wait until they have grown a bit bigger before they get the whole garden. My chicks will be 2 weeks old tomorrow. That was my experience but go with your gut and what you think will work for you and your flock. You know the nature of your birds and how you think they will react. I have 1 chicken that I was worried how she would react but she has been fine with the chicks. Good luck with your hatch.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2016
  7. Crystele77

    Crystele77 New Egg

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    Jun 23, 2016
    I currently have 4 broody hens in my coop. One of which just hatched 3 chicks a couple days ago. I have kept them in the coop during the day, as I was worried the chick's would fall out and not be able to get back in at night.
     

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