Broody hen with chicks free ranging


In the Brooder
Sep 24, 2019
Hi my hen has been laying on eggs outside the hen house for a month and today i found three baby chicks. I I usually lock the chickens in a house at night and let them free range around during the day but mama hasnt been locked in at night for a moth now. my question is should i just leave mama outside with her babies or try to put them in a safe box somewhere in the house to protect them from predators.. we live in the foothills and have 2 cats and a dog!
I would definitely lock her up at night in a protected space. My hen and her chicks free range but she goes back to a little kennel at night that can be bolted shut. We don’t have too many predators, especially compared to the US but small cheeping chicks are an ideal snack for any wandering animal. To me it just isn’t worth leaving them vulnerable if I can easily protect them.

And welcome to BYC! :welcome:jumpy
Has the mama tried to come back to the rest of the flock and go in the coop on her own with her babies?
Is your coop large enough that you could make a broody area for her and the chicks to stay when you lock up for the night?

I wouldn't keep them in your house. Do you plan to keep all the chicks? If so, you want them to be able to integrate with the rest of the flock and that'll be really difficult for them later if you keep them separated, and the mom may have a hard time earning her place back. Mamas are generally really good at doing the integration work for you.

If you can't keep them all in the coop, they should be protected somewhere though.
She should be fine with them, that's her job. She'll probably sleep with her chicks in a nest box until they're feathered and she'll go back to roosting with the others. It may take a bit after that for the young ones to start roosting too.
For now, you might need to provide a box or comfy spot on the floor if the nest boxes are too high for the chicks.
Along this line, I have a broody hen and chicks coming tomorrow. Assuming all goes well, can I let the hen and chicks "free range" with the other two in my flock when they decide they are ready? I say "free range" because I live in town and they are let out of their run in the backyard when we are home. The yard has a six foot fence and we have 3 dogs (who are mostly afraid of the chickens) so really the only predators are maybe cats, and the occasional hawk. I'm thinking of getting a pop up pen, but I can tell if it's a good idea or not.

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