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Broody won't get off the nest with new chicks...what to do?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Daisy8s, Jul 15, 2012.

  1. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a first-time broody hen. She was sitting on three eggs. One hatched yesterday (Saturday). One hatched this morning. At 6:00pm today I reached under and found a dead chick that I removed, along with any egg shells. So, she's sitting on nothing and has two chicks peeping at her.

    The chick that hatched yesterday is acting very hungry. It is pecking at her eyes and eyelids and she, in turn, is pecking back at it to make it let go of her eyelid (understandably!).

    I have chick starter right next to the nest and she's eaten a bit but she isn't showing it to the chicks and they aren't eating from it (that I've seen). They don't seem to know it is food. Due to size and configuration the water is just outside her nest enclosure but less than a foot away.

    I have several other chickens, all of whom push around the broody as she is at the bottom of the pecking order. So, I made a separate brooding area for her nest that only she is small enough to go into and out of (she's a bantam, others are full size).

    I am wondering if she is too frightened of the big birds to get off the nest with the chicks? In case this is the problem I've shut the coop door so the big hens cannot get into the coop for the rest of the day (they have shade and water elsewhere).

    Or, does she not know it is time to get off the nest now? Although she makes soft chucking sounds to the chicks she still has that kind of glazed-eye broody look about her. She was getting off the nest once per day before the first chick hatched yesterday but I did not see her off the nest yesterday or today.

    Suggestions? Is this normal? Should I break up her nesting area to make her leave it--except I had planned on her using it as a safe place to sleep at night with the chicks when everyone comes into the coop.

    I'd appreciate advice from those experienced with broody hens and their chicks. Thanks!
     
  2. laseterlass

    laseterlass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Take her babies show them how to eat by making cooing noises and pecking at the feed with your finger dip their little beaks in water and fill her nest up with ice.
     
  3. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    laseterlass, I assume you're saying that then I should raise the chicks myself. Except I'm not willing to do that--the whole point of having a broody hen sit on eggs was to let her raise them herself. I'm also pretty skeptical about filling a nest with ice....

    Can you describe your personal experience with broody hens and chicks that is leading you to give this advice?
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2012
  4. foothillsfiber

    foothillsfiber Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think they are just saying to show the chicks where the food and water is and leave them with the broody. the ice will be cold and detour here from staying in the nest. I am in the same situation right now, only one chick has hatched, yesterday, and I took it out of the nest and showed it the water and food today and left it in with momma hen.
     
  5. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    The chicks will be fine. Don't interfere so much. As long as there is food and water right near the mama and chicks, they will eat. A chick can go 2-3 days after hatching before it needs to have food. This is normal, because if mama got off the nest as soon as a few hatched, then those that hadn't hatched yet would be abandoned. It can take several days in nature, as you've found out. Just cuz you know there are no more eggs to hatch, doesn't mean anything. Leave em be.

    Next time around, might I suggest you build a broody coop? It doesn't have to be fancy, just a 2x2x2 box with ventilation and a door. I have a broody coop that is separate from the main coop for the mama's and babies protection. I also take chicken wire and fashion a partition of about the same size for when I have more than 2 broodies, so the third will not be bothered when it comes close to hatch date.

    Good luck. Let nature do its thing.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    WHAT? Why would you fill the nest with ice? Lets make the nest an unpleasant place, she'll not feel she has a safe place to return with the chicks. I don't understand why you'd do this....
     
  7. yo burrill

    yo burrill Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would show babies where the food and water is if momma hasnt shown them by the end of day two. My chicks will start eating within 12 hours of hatching. Not all broody hens make good mothers especially maiden moms. So you should be prepared to care for them yourself if you want to keep them alive. My last maiden broody kept taking her chicks out in the rain and leaving them to get wet while she roamed around. We had two weeks of steady rain. All seven babies ended up inside cold and wet but they all lived.
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

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    That right there. She's being a good momma as far as her little brain is telling her, she doesn't know there aren't any more babies there. Those babies will get back under her and she'll decide in a day or so to get up. But, she'll still spend a good amount of time on that nest for the first week especially, so leave it alone. Remember, as small as those babies are, they just "ate" an entire egg yolk! They're not hungry at all. Hatchery birds are shipped the day of or after hatching and are often 3+ days without food or water and do just fine.

    Watching a broody raise chicks will be one of the best (although sometimes nerve-wracking) experiences you'll ever have!
     
  9. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks everyone. Today I shut the pop door after the rest of the hens left the coop so the broody has the coop to herself. When I checked back she was out of her area with the chicks and eating. One chick was also eating. I didn't want to stay long as she clearly wants privacy but I'm sure the other chick was eating also.

    I also added some chopped up hard boiled egg for a bit of a boost since she can't get outside today to look for bugs for protein. Tomorrow I'll leave the door open all day. I just thought it was good to let her have her first day successfully off the nest without being pestered by the other hens, especially since this broody hen is at the bottom of the pecking order in the flock.

    I did create a separate broody area--it's 1x2 feet and made with chicken wire so the hen and her chicks can see/hear the rest of the flock but be safe from them. Since my broody is my only bantam I made the entrance small enough that only she can get in and out.

    No, I did not add ice to the nest. Somehow I don't think that advice was from someone with much experience with broodies and chicks.
     
  10. laseterlass

    laseterlass Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Actually I have lots of experience with hens. Basically you want to break a broody. Snap her out of her 'trance". Stupid bird does not have the natural sense to get up and take care of her babies. Kick her off the nest. If she does not stay off make the nest uncomfortable. Growing up on a farm if you were not a good mom. You got ate.
     

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