Broody hen refusing to relocate to new nest ... where new babies will be waiting!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by MisfitMarie, Mar 15, 2016.

  1. MisfitMarie

    MisfitMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 20, 2014
    Portland, OR
    I have an Orpington that has decided to hatch eggs. She's been broody for about three weeks now and is more determined than ever to hatch the eggs she has literally flattened herself over. She had gone broody while I was away for a week, and over that week, grew rather attached to her nest. She's currently sitting on infertile eggs, but I have chicks hatching in the incubator as of today!

    I've tried moving her six or seven different times: all in the dark of night. Each time, I place her on top of her relocated eggs inside a reinforced doghouse with fencing in front for protection (I've also tried a couple extra hutches that I have numerous times)... She settles down immediately but upon checking her in the morning, she is frantically trying to escape and leaves the nest cold. As soon as I let her out, she heads straight for her specific nesting box and flattens back down again, in a frantic huff.

    So, I have some chicks for her hatching now... but I'm worried about putting them under her at night if I can't protect the babies from the rest of the flock. I'm worried that if I simply let her raise them among the rest of the flock, there will be some casualties. Some of my hens are rather bossy and aggressive towards one another.

    So... I can't move my hen. She's determined to hatch eggs where she is while her soon-to-be adopted chickie-babies are hatching in my incubator, as we speak.

    What do I do? [​IMG]

    * I'm also not exaggerating when I say that I have REPEATEDLY attempted to move her to at least three or four different comfortable, safe places to rear her chicks. She's super stubborn.
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
  2. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2015
    One of my serama hens is at the bottom of the pecking order. When she tried to brood, other birds would force her off the nest-not a lot but enough to ruin the eggs. Not wanting the eggs to be ruined, I put them under a silkie hen to be hatched. Wanting the very tame, friendly serama to raise the chicks, I took the hatched egg shells and put them beside her. Then I held a chick close and waited for it to chirp. When it did the hen clucked, calling to the chick. When I gave it to her she accepted it immediately. When I gave her the rest she acted a bit flustered but settled down-all this during daylight. Since this hen is unable to protect her chicks, I keep them separated from the flock until the chicks are able to run away from danger quickly then put them back with the flock. This is the hen's third batch of chicks. Each time I have kept her separated for awhile. It has worked out well. Note-my hen is an experienced mother. If yours isn't, giving her chicks during the day may not work.

    You can give the chicks to her in the dark and then remove the whole family early in the morning before it gets light or soon after.

    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Its been my experience that adult chickens rarely attack baby chicks - they tend to start teaching them chicken manners when they are around 4 weeks old. Whilst I do use my alpha hen to sit, I have read here on BYC that members have had similar success with lower ranking hens.

    I should add they I free range my chickens, and the chicks are hatched in the main coop. I have a mini coop that i transfer mum and chicks to once they have hatched. They stay there for a day or so, then i open the door and let mum take her little ones out - she always brings them back for food and water. On a night time, mum and chicks are in the mini-coop and I simply close the door.

    All the best
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Hens have been raising their chicks with the flock for thousands of years. I let my hens hatch with the flock and raise their chicks with the flock regardless of their rank in the pecking order. Any time you do anything with living animals there are risks, whether you isolate them or not, but I have never lost a chick to another adult flock member doing this. I know others have, but I haven’t. I think having enough room really makes a difference, but if you don’t have enough room for a broody hen to raise chicks with the flock you will probably have trouble when you do try to reintegrate the hen and integrate the chicks anyway.

    The biggest risk to the chicks is not when they ae with the broody hen, but after she weans them. If they have enough room to avoid the adults during the day they will be fine but if space is tight they are at greater risk. I had a hen wean her chicks at three weeks and those chicks made it on their own fine with the flock.

    But you probably don’t trust what I say (I don’t blame you, I’m just a stranger over the internet), so what I suggest is that you build a pen around the hen’s current nest to keep her in and keep the other hens out. If you can do that you don’t have to move her. It does not have to be big at all but a little food and water in there is a good idea. Fix the water so baby chicks can’t drown in it. I put some small rocks in it, some people like to buy a bunch of marbles.

    Then at night after it is dark, remove her eggs and put the new chicks in with the hen. You don’t have to put them under her, just in the nest with her is fine. They will make their way under her. If you do put them under her be careful not to crush them doing that.

    The next morning in be out there pretty early to see how it is going. The odds are you won’t be able to see much, which would be good. Don’t interfere unless you see a good reason.

    Eventually the hen will lead them off of the nest. That may be the next day, that may be two or even three days. The chicks can go a long time without eating and drinking because they absorb the yolk before hatch. I had one chick that hatched on a Monday and the hen did not bring them off until Friday. That was a miserable long drawn-out hatch but all chicks were fine. They are a lot tougher than many people give them credit for. When she brings them off the nest, they will have bonded. You can then move them to any isolation confinement you want to.

    A couple of warnings. When you pick up the broody hen be careful. The chicks will sometimes crawl up under her wings. You don’t want to crush a chick when you pick her up.

    One of the risks when you isolate them is that a chick can escape the broody’s protection and go mingle with the rest of the flock. If the broody hen cannot get to the chick to protect it, that chick is in danger from the other hens. A rooster should not harm the chick, he’s more likely to protect it, a good rooster protects all his flock members, but not all roosters are that good. So when you build your isolation be sure to use wire with openings small enough and make sure a chick can’t squeeze under it or through a crack in the gate.

    Good luck! You can manage this. And next time, after you’ve seen the broody with her chicks, you won’t be nearly as nervous.
    1 person likes this.
  5. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 24, 2009
    Don't mover her... just put the chicks under her at night in her nest. If she accepts them she will guard them from the other hens no problem.
  6. varidgerunner

    varidgerunner Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 16, 2013
    Move them at night with warm eggs under them.lock them down a couple days, if they are really broody they will set eggs, or what is left of the eggs after they try to get out. Your only option now is to slip chicks under her and hope for the best. A good broody will protect her chicks from the flock, and yes other chickens might see chicks as food rather than valued flock members. A lot of instincts are severely lacking in breeds that have been selected for production, so relying on thousand year old instincts might not work.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by