In the Brooder
Jun 29, 2022
Hi All! Our broody French Black Copper Marans hen, Rowena, has been sitting on stone eggs for ten days now and is super broody. She is a year old and has been broody about six times already. Since we don't have a rooster, we've had to break her, but this time we thought bit might be fun to let her raise some chicks. She puffs up when we approach her, pecks us to defend eggs, and leaves her nest only once per day. We purchased three Lavender Orpington chicks at the feed store yesterday, and let them have feed, water & electrolyte, and a nice long nap under their heat plate all afternoon and night. As per the research I had done, we woke up around 4 AM and took the baby chicks to the coop. Before opening the door we let the chickens peep and played baby chicken recording for about 10 minutes, then we carefully removed the stone eggs and shoved the three chicks underneath her from behind. She pecked our hands like crazy, but the mamma and babies fell asleep right away and just sat. She didn't even seem to notice them. A couple of times, one of the chicks peeped out from underneath and she pecked it a couple of times. It didn't make a distress call, just went under her again and the mamma was quiet. This continued for about an hour and we watched vigilantly. When one again tried to come out, she began pecking it and actually had its little foot in her beak! We grabbed the chicks and they were not hurt, so we tried to shove them under her from behind again. She reached under and pecked them a little but still no distress peeping from the little ones. She hopped off her nest and just stared at the babies, then went into the run and aggressively scared off another hen. She went back in and stared, then out, then back in again, and then she jumped back into the nest and sat down with the chicks under her. She stood up and started pecking again, so we grabbed the chicks for a second time. As we prepared to shove them under her again, she pecked one hard in the eye! We put her stone eggs back in the nest and put the chicks in the brooder. The chicks are not injured, and only distress peeped a few times in this whole hour and a half that we tried to introduce them, so they are thankfully okay and in the brooder enjoying a late breakfast.
To further complicate matters, we have another Olive Egger hen who is also broody, but only has been sitting one day thus far.
Am I doing something wrong introducing them? Has Rowena not been sitting long enough? I had been led to believe from YouTube and Internet articles that at least a week or two is long enough for them to adopt chicks. Should I even consider trying to introduce them again later today or tonight, or should I just raise these Orpington babies in the brooder? Should I try and get the Olive Egger to take them even though she hasn't been sitting long? I would really appreciate any advice or tips anyone who has tried this before could offer. Thanks!
Thanks for the advice! I reintroduced Rowena and the chicks early this morning and Rowena is doing great. She is not attacking the chicks, and isn't just brooding or getting distressed like before. She is definitely trying to get the chicks under her by clucking, gently pecking their heads when they get close, and raising up to let them under her.
The chicks, however, are a different story. They are huddling in the corner and won't go under Rowena, but they will go near her. I have reason to believe that they are likely around 2 weeks old rather than 1 as I thought. (All their wing feathers are in.)
The chicks don't seem terrified, but they aren't going under Rowena at all. Is it worth it to continue to let them try to settle in? Is it possible that the chicks are too old or rejecting Rowena as their mom?
Your problem is the chick's age. That is an important piece of information. Now some of what you said makes more sense.

Some broody hens will adopt practically any chick of any age but most don't. You get much better success with really young chicks. Two or three days old is usually young enough.

But it is not just the hen. The chicks need to imprint on her. They haven't. That's why they are acting that way. She may be able to overcome that with time or she may not. As long as she is not attacking them you can let her try. I don't know how that will turn out.

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