Broody hen placement, need some advice!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by WyoChickenMamma, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. WyoChickenMamma

    WyoChickenMamma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Two weeks ago I gave my broody seven eggs. I tried to move her a few times from the nesting box that she was in, as it is a high box and in the "general" use coop. All the attempts to move her resulted in her leaving the eggs and not wanting to be anywhere but that nest. So I gave in and put the eggs back under her in that nest. Of the seven, 5 show growth. We are currently at day 14. So then less than a week later another hen kept trying to steal the eggs and kept sitting on them as well. She has been known to be broody in the past as well. So I gave her eggs as well. She is in the box right next door to the first broody. So here they are about 4 feet off the ground in the general coop, sitting on 12 growing embryos between the two of them. We are still dealing with a few of my other hens wanting to lay in those boxes, but it appears to be lessening each day.

    So what should I do with them. Do I let them hatch them in those high boxes, and then move the momma and the babies down to the floor? Should I move them to another coop? ( I do have a vacant one that has 2 boxes at ground level.) If I move the first girl after she hatches out her five, then a week later move the second one with her babies will there be fighting? Should I build I really long ramp from the current nesting boxes down to the floor? Should I attempt to move them now to the other coop? They have both used that coop last summer, but it has been vacant over the winter, as the current coop is nicer. TIA to any suggestions or ideas.
     
  2. SamJacobbe

    SamJacobbe Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 13, 2012
    Wellington Florida
    There are a few things you should do.

    1. Get an incubator ready if you can.
    2. If you don't have an incubator, then move only one hen right now.

    Okay, so I would go at night and move the one hen that is farther along and her eggs into the other coop and place them in a nice dark nest box. Place her on the ground near the eggs, but not on top. She could freak out and brake them. Take a dim flashlight and shine it on the eggs so she can see them. Give her a little bit to get accustom to the new area, the eggs can go about half an hour without the hen, or more sometimes.

    If...

    If she decided she truly doesn't want to set there, move her back to the old nest and let her see if she'll set there again. Two things can happen now:
    1. She takes the eggs back and continues setting. Great!
    2. She decided this is too stressful and leaves. Uh Oh...

    Here's what you do if number 2 happens:

    Take the eggs and place them under the other hen if she can fit them, or place them in the incubator if you have one. The other hen can incubate them until they hatch and then you can move them to a brooder and she can continue with hers.

    If she continues to set then here's what you do:

    You can add a larger lip on the side of the nest box: When the hen does hatch them, they can't climb over or fall out. I also suggest putting some padding down underneath the nest boxes if there isn't some already. There is always the chance that one gets out, and it's nice to land on something soft.
    Make sure you are there on hatch day: To be able to help any chicks that fall. You really won't need to help the chicks out of the eggs, so just leave them. Let nature do it's job.
    Move her again: Once all of the eggs hatch (After about two days or so) candle the other eggs to see if there are any others. If there are some still alive, again, place them either in the incubator or under the other hen. Once they hatch you can move them with momma again. If you move momma now, she will stay and take care of her chicks more likely than leave them. Also, even if she does leave them, you can always put them in a brooder and they should be fine.

    When the chicks hatch:

    Make sure there is plenty of water, as a hen with even five little ones will drink tons of it after a few days, try adding electrolytes to it.
    Also make sure that there is food with lots of nutrients for the hen, as she will have lost a lot while she was setting. Try to make a little feed area that only the chicks can get to and put in grower feed. This will give them all the nutrients they need to grow, and chicks grow a lot in the first few weeks.

    Fighting:

    I cannot say that all hens will not fight. Mine did when they hatched out chicks, but it was mostly over who got to keep most of the chicks for the night. Mothering hens are protective of their chicks, but shouldn't fight with each other as long as there is space, food, and water. They might even share a nest box in order to keep all the chicks warm.

    I cannot express this enough Make sure you are there on hatch day!!
    Many things can happen and you want to be there should your help be needed.

    Hope this helped and if you need anything else, just ask :) Good Luck! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  3. WyoChickenMamma

    WyoChickenMamma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 6, 2011
    Thank you so much for the advice! I am such a newbie at this whole hen hatching, I have always ordered day olds or bought pullets. This is all new to all of us..including my two broodies! So far they are doing a great job though. The one that is further along is very low on the pecking order and I do worry about her not standing her ground, but perhaps she will be different as a mother. :)
     
  4. SamJacobbe

    SamJacobbe Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 13, 2012
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    As added advice:

    Sometimes, even with hens low on the pecking order, the hens will be higher while their mothers, as they become more aggressive. I have had my lowest hen go up to being number two or three when she was a mother, and back down again when she finished with the chicks. I would suggest letting the other chickens be able to see, but not make contact to, the chicks when they hatch. Allows them to already get a feel for them so it isn't as hectic when introducing them.

    I used to be a newbie, but I had one faithful hen that goes broody almost every month; she taught me all I need to know. Hopefully yours will do the same :D
     

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