broody hen must be seperated to hatch?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by green eggs and spam, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. green eggs and spam

    green eggs and spam New Egg

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    Mar 13, 2010
    i have a broody cochin/silkie mix... its about the time of year i can find hatching eggs and new chicks
    if i want to let her raise my chicks this year instead of having to set them up in the house i have some questions:

    1. will she take to a couple of chicks if i place them under her after a couple weeks of sitting on eggs? or should i get fertile eggs?
    2. to what extent is it necessary to seperate her from the rest of the flock; more info about flock below incase that sways answer.
    3. if she is raising them and it stays above freezing (its been about 40 at night/50 day temp here) do i need to suppliment with a heat lamp still?
    4. anything else i should know about letting a hen raise a couple chicks? (i have raised chicks the last two years myself in a brooder)

    thanks!

    about my flock: 2 yr mille-fleur d'uccle bantam, 2 yr silkie, 1 yr americana, 1 yr cochin/silkie (broody)
    they have large house with attached 8x8 pen, but free range on non-rainy days

    i do have a small pen i can seperate her into if i need to but what is acceptable bedding for a momma hen house? same as a nesting box?
     
  2. noitulover

    noitulover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1. my broody silkie took day old chicks when I slipped them under her at night after she had sat for a few weeks. I think most of the time, this works. Just be sure to watch her for a bit and check on them first thing in the morning.

    2. I would separate them completely. A broody has enough work to do when hatching eggs/mothering chicks, than to worry about the rest of the flock trying to peck at her chicks (and they will). My flock is VERY tame. I've never had feather pulling/fighting/pecking/etc. problems, but they DID try to peck at a smaller chick once. I tried integrating a 6 week old bantam chick into the flock and they tried to peck her! If hens aren't broody, they just don't "get" what a chick is...

    3. I would supplement with a heat lamp. I wouldn't put it directly on her, nor would I make it as hot as I would for chicks without a broody. I put one over one end of the larger "broody" brooder, and that way the hen and chicks can choose to be under it or not.

    4. Keep plenty of water and chick starter with them and you should be good to go! I noticed my chicks raised by a broody are "smarter" than the average hen and better at foraging. They also never get pasty butt as chicks!
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    1. will she take to a couple of chicks if i place them under her after a couple weeks of sitting on eggs? or should i get fertile eggs?

    Most will take to very young chicks placed under them. It is not a sure thing but it usually works. Cochin and Silkies are both broody breeds, so I think your chances are really good. I have had luck putting the chicks under the broody at night with it completely dark, using as little light and commotion as possible. The danger time is when the hen wakes up in the morning. The younger the chicks the better chance of it working.

    Fertile eggs are also an option. There are risks associated with both methods but either should work. If you do decide on fertile eggs, you might want to read this link. Whether you decide to separate here or not while brooding, there is good information. If you do decide to not isolate her, please pay attention to the marking eggs and checking under her every day comments.

    Isolate a Broody? Thread
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=213218


    2. to what extent is it necessary to separate her from the rest of the flock; more info about flock below incase that sways answer.

    People have been successfully doing this both ways for a long time. There are risks and advantages both ways. I prefer to have the broody raise them with the flock so Mama handles the integration issues. They still have to handle their own pecking order issues when they are weaned and those can sometimes be a bit rough, but the integration issues are the most dangerous. My normal method is to separate the hen and chicks for a couple of days in their own area so the chicks can learn to eat and drink without interference from the older hens, but then put them with the flock.

    Which works best for you will depend on a few things. Partly, how good a broody is your hen? Most broodies are very protective of their chicks. If another chicken threatens her babies, Mama usually goes ballistic. She has such a bad attitude that the other chickens usually very quickly learn to leave her chicks alone when they are around Mama. Now if they wander off on their own or get where Mama cannot protect them, then you have another issue. I remember a specific poster on here that locked them up in a separate pen. The chicks could get through the fence but Mama could not. That was not good when the chicks made their way out to the rest of the flock. Mama could do absolutely nothing to protect her babies. Sometimes you get a broody that does not protect her babies, but that is fairly rare.

    A second consideration is the personalities of your other chickens. Some chickens are brutes. Some individual chickens will go out of their way to kill any chick they can. In my experience the other hens are the worst, but it is also possible that a rooster could be a threat. My flock is pretty laid back. I've had 2 week old chicks eating out of a feeder next to grown hens, with Mama several feet away. Sometimes the other hens let the chick eat next to them, but often another hen gives the chick a pretty good peck to remind it that in chicken etiquette it is bad manners for a chick to eat with its elders. The chick then runs at top speed back to Mama. Mama, in this case, comforts the chick but does nothing to the other hen. I guess it takes a flock to properly raise a chick and teach it manners.

    That peck was a pecking order type peck. Hard but not meant to kill. There is another type if pecking which is a flat out intent to kill. This is where Mama usually quickly steps in. It depends on the individual chickens. I cannot tell you what the personality of your chickens is.

    The other thing is room. If they free range, Mama has plenty of room to work with. Your pen is kind of small. If Mama has enough room to work with, she can usually protect her babies. The more room she has, the better job she can do.

    I can't tell you what the right way is for you; just try to mention some of the possible problems I see.

    3. if she is raising them and it stays above freezing (its been about 40 at night/50 day temp here) do i need to suppliment with a heat lamp still?

    I never would. Mama's heater does not go out with a power outage. If they get cold they will go to her for warmth. You will probably be surprised at how often and for how long they enjoy being out in the cooler weather.

    Good luck!
     
  4. green eggs and spam

    green eggs and spam New Egg

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    Mar 13, 2010
    thank you for the answers!

    i think i will try a couple chicks under her without seperating her from the flock (but i will watch them close)

    my silkie has gone broody several times but i never would do this with her because she has struggled with being the underdog in the flock (they picked on her relentlessly until i bought the cochin/silkie cross in hopes her at least having a friend- but it worked wonders, because not only did they become friends but the cochin cross is really spunky and well liked by the rest of the girls and now they all get along great without even picking on my silkie anymore)
    so point being the cochin cross holds her own and then some so i think she would perfect for this, assuming she is a good mom, but i think she will be!

    new questions though:

    5. if i do end up seperating her and the chicks (but keeping them in a small pen in the run so the are visible to the flock) how many weeks until i consider joining them? (and i would rejoin them free range of course, i know space is a big part of it!)

    6. if i don't end up seperating them, should i create a place they can get to that a big chicken can't? or is that their mother?

    7. do you provide adult feed to the mother or is just the chick feed sufficient while she is mothering?
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    5. if i do end up seperating her and the chicks (but keeping them in a small pen in the run so the are visible to the flock) how many weeks until i consider joining them? (and i would rejoin them free range of course, i know space is a big part of it!)

    Hard to answer. I normally let them out two or three days after I put them in, just giving them time to learn to get around well and learn to eat. As long as you let them out before the hen stops mothering them, she should take care of integration issues, not pecking order issues but integration issues. Sometimes she stops mothering them at 4 weeks, sometimes 9 weeks.

    6. if i don't end up seperating them, should i create a place they can get to that a big chicken can't? or is that their mother?

    Many people do this when they don't have a broody but are trying to integrate chicks without broodies. In that case it is probably a good idea especially when you don't have a lot of room. I suppose some do this when they have broodies, but I don't. They should not need this. Either Mama takes care of them or she does not.

    I have had a broody get on one side of a fence and some of her chicks stuck on the other side. She walked out a gate and walked back along the fence while her chicks did not follow her closely. When they saw her through the fence, they ran back along the fence away from the gate. Neither the chicks nor the broody understood to go to the gate. A few times when that happened I saw my rooster go sit by the separated chicks until Mama figured it out. Not all roosters are that protective, but none of the other hens bothered the chicks when that happened. Point to this story, I don't like creating ways for chicks to get separated from the broody. It does not always work out well.

    7. do you provide adult feed to the mother or is just the chick feed sufficient while she is mothering?

    With all I just said, I do create an area the chicks can go that the big ones can't. Gritsar just had a thread about chickens enjoying stolen food. If I put feed in a separate container on the ground where the chicks can reach it, the older chickens wipe that out first before the chicks can get to it and ignore their regular feeder. So I quickly built this so the adults can't eat all the feed. The adults cannot get their head through these holes and the chicks can go in or out through the ends. It needs a bit of repair.

    [​IMG]

    When I have young chicks with the flock, the entire flock eats the same thing. I do not feed layer at all. I've seen Mama stand by the hanging feeder that the chicks can't get to and drop feed on the ground so the chicks can get to it. Besides, within a week the chicks are flying up to the adult feeder and eating on their own. The first bag I get is usually a combined 20% Starter/Grower, then after that it is usually 15% Grower/Finisher. Mine free range so this is mainly supplemental feed. If they were only eating what I fed them, I'd probably do it differently. I put oyster shell on the side for the adults to eat if they want to. Mine don't eat that much oyster shell and the egg shells are still plenty hard.
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2011
  7. green eggs and spam

    green eggs and spam New Egg

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    Mar 13, 2010
    you guys rock! I feel prepared to take on this new adventure in chicken keeping! thanks so much!
     

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