Broody Madness

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by tori852, Apr 4, 2018.

  1. tori852

    tori852 Chirping

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    Hey Backyard Chickens folks, it's been awhile since I posted here, lol. :D So here's the situation: we have our first flock of 8 chickens that we raised, 7 hens and one roo. One of our seven hens went broody last month. After a week of trying to get her to stop, we gave up and let her brood in the coop nest box of her choice. We set up a wire dog crate connected to the box with food and water so she couldn't sit on the wrong nests and the other's wouldn't disturb her. I attached a pic below. We gave her eggs, she was a diligent broody, four of the eight eggs ended up viable, and they're in the process of hatching right now. We're going to keep the mommy and her chicks in their nest box dog crate set up for a few days and then let them free range with the rest of the flock. What's your experience with free ranging chicks? We understand there's a risk factor but it'd be so much more enjoyable for the flock.

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    Anyway, in the last week, another hen decided she was going to go broody too. :barnie Showing all the signs of broodiness, and definitely determined. And in the last three days, two MORE hens have decided to go broody! Now we only have 3 hens laying!!! :he Why did they all decide to do this at the same time??? I do not understand them. :confused: Here are our crazy broody birds.

    20180404_174622.jpg

    So, here's the complicated part, we have an order of day old chicks we're picking up from an Icelandic chicken breeder this Saturday. 24 of em. We set up this order a few months ago, and they're from a different line so they're much more desirable to the future genetics of the flock than any hatchlings from our current stock would be. We do not want to let our hens hatch more eggs, we wouldn't have space and we don't need more baby chickens.

    My question: can I just give some of these new chicks to each of the broody hens as adopted babies? How do I go about doing that? If the broodies take to them, I'd keep each broody and her babies separated but in view for the first few days of course, and then let them free range as a flock. Would that work? But is having four mommy hens with their chicks all free ranging together just begging for a fight? I've done a fair amount of research, and it seems that for most, having multiple broodies together seems to work alright, especially if they have ample space. But then I hear that the broody hens could fight for custody and hurt the babies which is obviously not what we want, especially since these are ordered chicks that we've invested in (there and back it's a four hour drive to the breeder). Thoughts?

    Though we can brood the chicks ourselves inside, we'd prefer to let the hens raise them because we may as well, it's more natural, its less work for us, we wouldn't have to try to break three broodies, and we wouldn't have to figure out introducing 24 birds to the existing flock when they're older. And it's wonderful to watch the hens raise their own babies.

    So what do you think? Any advice is helpful, thank you so much!!!

    PS sorry for writing so much, I like to be thorough :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018
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  2. tootmany

    tootmany Songster

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    Wanted to say your hens look lovely! I've heard the best route is to pop the chicks under the broody at night when they are sleeping, but have not done it myself. I hope you keep us updated on how it goes! Best of luck :)
     
  3. Angeline1978

    Angeline1978 Songster

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    Hens may not take to other chicks. They may kill them. Most of the time free ranging they will stay with mom. Along with other things in the chicken world, chicks can stray and bad things can happen. Best of luck,soun like you're getting ready to be very busy!
     
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  4. tori852

    tori852 Chirping

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    thanks tootmany!!! They are pretty girls, lol. I've heard that too about slipping the babies under the hens at night, but then I can't keep an eye on them to make sure they're accepting the babies... thoughts? Angeline1978 that's what I'm worried about... :hmm I don't want broody hens killing the little babies!!! That would be horrible. The chicks do seem to have pretty good instinct about staying close to mom though.
     
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  5. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Songster

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    Our flock tends to all go broody simultaneously also...it's hard to manage, but you can make it work. Last spring, we had 8 hens go broody together - with 9 nesting boxes! So it became a challenge to figure out which eggs were the ones where...then I found one hen stealing eggs from the nest box next door (so she had 11 eggs instead of 5!)....ARGH!

    The only way I found to manage this many broodies is to seperate them - two together with their chicks seem ok, but not three family units. So we built a broody house (small coopette without nesting boxes), a PVC tractor with locking door (for the most aggressive Mom and chicks), a dog-house crate (like what you've done already), their original small coop (6'x10' -holds 12 chickens well) and their large coop (holds 24 chickens well). That was the only way I got this many broodies and chicks to survive. I moved the entire flock into the small coop - and let the broodies have the large coop. Once the chicks started to hatch, the Moms and chicks were moved to other spaces (dog-house coop, coopette, etc.) I had so many waterers and feeders to keep track of - it was a lot of work!

    Yes, we lost chicks to aggressive Moms (hence the locking door on the PVC tractor - I moved it into the middle of our 2 acre lot to get her away from other Moms!). Yes, we nearly lost chicks because they wriggled out of where they should have been but son with great dog found chick hiding in the grass!

    Yes, I've successfully grafted chicks to broodies - yes, I've lost chicks this way too. Depends on the Momma. I have found it works best with day old or younger, after 2 days, the chicks don't seem to recognize Mom's voice. That initial imprint is so critical! Yes, I went in after dark without a light, slipped a hand beneath Mom to lift here slightly so she was standing, slipped a chick or two or three under and pulled the eggs out. Mom wriggles down onto chicks who cheep and peep and are answered by one another. It's wonderful and beautiful and amazing when it works! But awful the next morning if another hen is defensive of the coop from these 'intruders' and kills chicks or hurts Mom.....ugh. Chickens!

    For your 24 new chicks. They are already a flock. I would keep them that way. With a broody, the chicks will not graft to you or be as close to you as with you raising them. Just the way it is! And yes, my broody Mom's take their chicks outside at 3 days old. Very, very cute - very, very hard to keep their fencing and gates secure enough so the little ones don't clamber through! I'm glad I work from home, because I can open windows to hear the little ones calling 'help me, I'm on the wrong side of the fence!'. And then go out to rescue them - just for another to do the same 2 min later! Thank goodness for wi-fi that reaches the coop! I found it most productive to simply take my laptop and phone outside and sit on the picnic table!

    Good luck! Enjoy your new chicks!
     
  6. redranger209

    redranger209 Crowing

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    I would go for it. I’ve never had a broody hen not accept chicks that where more than a week old.
     
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  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    More than week old......or less?
    Maybe I'm missing your point?



    That is one slick set-up!.....did you just leave the back panel folded down?
    Now can you repeat it 3 more times? :D

    Not sure about the multiple broodies accepting chicks and living harmoniously,
    but sure want to follow along for the ride.
    Might work out great, might need a backup plan ready to go.
    Best of cLuck!
     
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  8. redranger209

    redranger209 Crowing

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    Whoops typo! Sorry!
     
  9. Sleek28

    Sleek28 Chirping

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    To introduce the hens and the chicks: 1.Pick a night and make sure all the chickens are asleep.
    2.Take the chicks and slide them under your broody hens.
    3.Do Not use a flash light, do not she them the chicks.
    4.Wait for a while to make sure there is no commotion.
    5.Check on them in the Morning. You should have 3 happy Moms
    **I am not certain this will work for you because all chickens are different**
     
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  10. tori852

    tori852 Chirping

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    That is INSANE... goodness... :eek: At least my situation is only 4... so it is possible to make it work though.

    That helps a lot, thank you. I'm going to need to think on it and figure out what I have the time and space to put together.

    We're ok with them not being as close to us, it doesn't seem to matter in the long run with this breed (technically a landrace) anyway. Not sure if it's different with other breeds since these are our first chickens, but the hens are very very flighty when they get older, even though they got a TON of handling when they were chicks. The rooster is the only one I can catch easily, though he aggressively attacks everyone else in the household so I guess I'm the chicken whisperer to him or something.
     
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