Broody Hens Help (first time using Broody to hatch)

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Cyclonechick, Mar 28, 2018.

  1. Cyclonechick

    Cyclonechick In the Brooder

    28
    3
    49
    Nov 22, 2015
    Hi everyone (sorry for the long post)
    We recently had 3 of our hens go broody - our 3 Black Marans. The first one started sitting on her small clutch of 5 eggs (3 were fake) about 25 days ago. But shortly after she did, her two sisters started to take turns with her or go in the nest box next to her and find other eggs to sit on. I tried to manage it but since they are identical, I was losing the battle of which mama should be on the eggs. We put the color bands on them to help identify the first mama. I thought I had everything handled until I moved her to her private space and saw that it was the the sister (not the original mama) and now she somehow had 9 eggs instead of 5.
    :barnie

    I removed the 3 fake eggs so she continued to sit on the 6 "potential" babies. On day 20, 2 little cuties peaked out from under her and we were so excited. Meanwhile, the original mama hen continues to sit in her nest box - sometimes on eggs, sometimes not, seemingly waiting for something to hatch. :(

    Yesterday (day 24), I decided to candle the remaining 4 eggs to see if anything was even growing. I was worried that the new mama would continue to sit and not take care of her babies. Sure enough, all 4 eggs have chicks growing - but they range from probably day 8 - 12 - clearly not hatching soon.

    Now to my question.....
    I think the new mama needs to care for her two chicks and I wondered if I could put them in their own little private space and then move the original mama (who's still sitting in a nest box) on these 4 eggs to finish it out the hatch? I worry that the baby chicks need their mama and that waiting another 1-2 weeks is too long to let the new mama sit - but I really don't know since this is my first time with a broody hen.

    Would love any input!
    Thank you in advance!
    Susan
     
  2. Silkie Mamma

    Silkie Mamma In the Brooder

    5
    7
    13
    Jun 17, 2017
    The momma hen does need to look after her 2 chicks, and it is completely ok for chics to be on their own, as long as they have 1 or more chicks with them. I've raised chickens straight from the brooder without needing a hen, though the new mama probably won't take the chicks back, as she would have some already. Unless you can get her to take them back via putting them under her while she's asleep, I don't think she'll take them back.

    I hope this was helpful,
    Silkie Mamma
     
  3. Cyclonechick

    Cyclonechick In the Brooder

    28
    3
    49
    Nov 22, 2015
    Thank you Silkie Mamma!
    I think I would just keep the mama and her 2 babies together and then the first mama (the one still sitting in a nest box) would hatch and raise the 4 (hopefully all 4 hatch).
    Appreciate the help!
     
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    13,495
    22,107
    922
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I would mark the other 4 eggs and put them under the first mama. You mark them so you know if anyone else is laying in the nest and you can remove the extras. You need to check every day.

    If the other eggs are also in different stages, you may want to look into getting an incubator or plan on taking the first ones to hatch for a couple of days until the last ones hatch. (If they do)
     
  5. Cyclonechick

    Cyclonechick In the Brooder

    28
    3
    49
    Nov 22, 2015
    Thank you bobbi-j
    I have an incubator so that's a great idea to use if needed!
    I've learned a lot of good lessons with this first go-round!
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    13,495
    22,107
    922
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    And there will be something to learn with every go-round after this... Chicken keeping is a fun hobby, and has quite a learning curve. And I think they're just like kids - once you figure out the 'rules', they change the game!
     
    Cyclonechick likes this.
  7. I would put the chicks with the original mother and sit and watch her behavior, if there are any signs of violence take them away as she could easily reject them but if she is waiting for something to hatch, you can hopefully 'trick' her into thinking they have just hatched?
     
  8. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    13,495
    22,107
    922
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Which chicks? The ones that have just hatched, or if the 4 you have left are a staggered hatch? If you are talking about the 4, I'd slip the eggs under the one still setting. If she hatches any, I'd consider leaving them with her and try hatching the other two in an incubator, then slipping them under her at night, but only if they're a couple of days or so different in age from the others. I haven't actually tried this, but I would handle it this way, being prepared to raise the last ones in a brooder if they get rejected.
     
  9. Agreed, rejection is the worst thing that can happen in this instance. Putting the 2 early hatchers under the mother that was originally meant to sit on them seems agreeable to me...
     
  10. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    13,495
    22,107
    922
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I don't think I was clear. I'd leave the two that are already hatched with the hen that is with them now. It ain't broke, so don't mess with it. I'd put the 4 remaining eggs (that appear to be at different stages of development) under the one still setting. I'd leave the first hatched ones with her and try to incubate the other two, slipping them under the hen when they hatch.

    Again, I have not been in this situation. My reasoning is, of the four remaining eggs, I would worry about taking the first hatched away from the mama and let her set on the eggs, by the time the last ones hatch, the older ones may not settle back under the hen. I hope this makes some small sense. I think I've even confused myself by now! :lau
     
    WhatAboutBob? likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: