Broody raised chick survival rates

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Niss, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. Niss

    Niss Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 29, 2011
    I'm feeling rather discuraged right now. I lost another chick idea what happened...I let mama and three chicks out and she only had two when she came in for the night. This fall I've had two mothers with four chicks each, and I am down to two.
    1 didn't get into the coop at about a week old, and although I found it and stuck it under mama it didn't make it, a few days later a second one was dead in the nest. A dog killed 3. and 1 just disappered, at about two months old.

    Is it just bum luck? The way it goes when you free range? Am I doing something wrong? I had good survival rates with the store baught ckicks this spring...but they were also several hours worth of work EACH DAY--maybe you get out what you put in? I do nothing for these guys but thow them food and at first I would make sure they all got in at night.

    I do NOT want to go back to tubs of chicks in the basement, please tell me it will go better in spring, barring more dog attacks!
  2. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 2, 2009
    North Texas
    I have only had one broody raise chicks, and she mothered them well past the time when they could fend for themselves. I gave her five one week old chicks though....thaty may have something to do with it. If I were you, If you are loosing chicks, I would separate mom and babies, and keep them in a fenced in area to keep an eye on them until the chicks are a few weeks old before letting them range for the first time. You may have better luck that way?
  3. ga_goat

    ga_goat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 7, 2010
    Lowndes County Ga
    My bantams free range and they would loose all hatched chicks if I left them with them 1 each day , so as soon as I see one with chicks I catch them away from mama and put them in a brooder
  4. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    Why must it be one extreme or the other?

    I agree with the suggestion to separate mama & chicks from the rest of the flock.

    Chicks with a broody in a secure, mobile pen would give them protection and the benefits of being on pasture until the chicks reach a size that they are less vulnerable. Then, you could integrate and the hen will help with the transition.

    There are lots of things that could be killing them (including your other chickens!) and only so much a broody can do to defend them in an attack. She certainly can't be expected to stop a dog! So, obviously, chicks are much less likely to survive outside with minimal protection than they are inside with maximum security. That's not the hen's fault -- I'm sure if you put her in your house, she'd do a great job minding the chicks there.

    But, this is the way it is in nature. A wild duck might hatch a dozen or more ducklings and only a couple survive to adulthood. Why would you expect chickens to be different?
  5. wbruder17

    wbruder17 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2010
    Portland, OR
    Yea, letting baby chicks, even with Mama, free range in the yard is just asking for them to get picked off. They are perfect targets, especially since they are constantly cheeping and drawing attention to themselves. I don't let mama or chickies ouut unless they are protected or I am willing to sit and watch the whole time. I jst built a new brooder so they can all be together and safely raiised. The brooder has a run and can be moved about in the yard for them to peck at grass.

    I've only lost one chick, out of at least 20 hatched, and that was a cat(?) That reached through the bars of the dog crate I was using and killed a little banty. Almost got another chick....ripped a big gash out of its neck. I saved that one and now HE is a 9 week old sweet as pie little cockerel named.....what else? Gash.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  6. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I have had great success with broody raised chicks, and some not so successful luck. I happen to have a large coop (formerly a garage, 17x20 feet) and lots of places for chicks to hide. The mama hens have protected them very well, for the most part, but when there are a lot of hatched chicks, the hens can only run in one direction at a time to protect 'em. And they do scatter!

    None of my hens have taken chicks out of the coop until they were three weeks old or older. So far, anyway. Like I said, it's a large coop. Food is there, in several feeders at various heights, water is there in about four places (I put a chick waterer next to broody mama nests so they don't have to shepherd chicks across the coop floor) and there are protected places for the chicks to hide whilst mama defends her brood.

    Two hens brooded together and hatched four chicks. 3 days later, there were only 3 chicks, as the weakest one had died. Both hens raised those chicks for the first 3 weeks, then one continued; the second hen still checks on them with the other mother now and then, but she leaves the chicks for the first hen to cover for warmth. It was funny at first, because the first hen went broody partway through a molt and wasn't quite all feathered out when the chicks hatched. So the second hen was the fluffy hiding place for a while. Once Buffy got all fluffed up, all the babies ran to her, eschewing the other hen.

    Once chicks are outside ranging freely with their moms, there's more likelihood some may fall prey to predators, or suffer injury falling, running, being trampled by a larger chicken. Just misadventure.

    8 little chicks hatched on Thanksgiving Day and I dread the day I might not be able to count all eight of 'em. But it may very well happen that some don't make it - mostly through misadventure.

    I prefer having a hen brood chicks. However, I've never put fertile eggs or young chicks under one. If I incubate eggs and some hatch, I brood them myself. Haven't had any broodies at the same time eggs hatched in my incubators. Yup, I think broody raised chicks are certainly easier for ME, and I think it's better for the chicks, too.
  7. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    I agree with others, if you want chicks to survive, it's best to let mom hatch them somewhere safe. A moveable cage like a rabbit hutch is brilliant to start with. I use a ratproof aviary for chick brooding, and when the chicks are starting to feather and overgrowing the aviary I move them to a larger tractor. By then the chicks are feathering up and so I can make a choice whether to leave the hen with them or put her back with the flock.

    Doing it in a safe area you should have high survival rates, same as if you did all the work yourself. It took me a while to work this out and to realise that I had to make the nest area absolutely ratproof and snakeproof, but it's well worth it once you have the equipment you need.

    There are so many predators out for a quick chick fix...

    best wishes
  8. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    When you let young chicks out to free range, you'll always run the risk of losing them. I keep my broodies and chicks in a big hutch with an attached run, and I hardly loose any. Some of my extra vigilant broodies are allowed to stay in with the flock, but even then they stay in the run attached to the coop. Fuzzy baby birds are just too tempting to predators. Cats, dogs, hawks, foxes, birds of prey, ect- they're all looking for an easy meal. Good luck, sorry about your babies.
  9. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I brood my chicks in the house, the hen stays with her flock. I too have many coyote and hawks, and I'm sure several other predators that stay below the radar. THe reason why hen hatch such a large number of chicks is that many of the chicks are picked off; leaving sufficent to continue the species. It's a method of production that is successful. However, the loss of chicks is not in our game plans . . . we take steps to protect the hens and chicks.

    What you are experiencing is normal in the life of a chicken. [​IMG]
  10. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    I feel very lucky. My broody has raised 4 clutches so far and not one lost yet. I do have hawks too. She pretty much keeps them under cover of a tree or the coop or something during their first few weeks of life. They don't even go outside at all till they're a few days old, and even then it's only a quick trip from one bit of cover to the other till she gets them where she wants them, into a spare coop where they can be alone and not bothered much by the others. She then keeps them under that till they're a few weeks old. Next she'll gradually bring them out under trees, etc. I love my broody, she's such a wonderful mom.

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