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can a chicken hatch eggs in a 12x12 nesting box?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by panipuri, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. panipuri

    panipuri Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2012
    My hen is broody and when we tried to bring her to a new place to hatch she refused for 24 hours - we didn't want to break her broodiness so we put her back out in the coop and she went immediately back to her nesting box where she was *originally* being broody.

    We are going to try a different method tonight. BUT... IF that doesn't work... could we successfully leave her in her little nesting box (which is SO tiny - 12x12x 9" high) to hatch her eggs?

    Here are the problems involved:

    1- the box is 3 ft off the floor - so we'd have to block the opening off the day of hatching so they don't all fall to their death and get pecked alive by the other chickens.

    2- the size of the box - is this big enough for when the eggs begin to hatch - ie, does our hen need to be moving around and standing up??

    3- we'd have to remove them all immediately after they dried to another area, which could be too upsetting for the mom?


    We are going to cross our fingers that the new method works tonight, but if not, we are wondering if it's possible to have her try to hatch eggs in that high, tiny box?

    Thank you so so much for any thoughts.
     
  2. dbcooper02

    dbcooper02 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sure millions of chicks have been hatched in boxes no bigger than that. The only real issue that I can see is the 3' off the floor thing. I wouldn't recommend trying to close her in the nest at hatching, but here's something that could work.
    How about devising an enclosed "porch" in front of the nest box with a solid floor and hinged top and hardware cloth walls big enough for a small waterer and a tray of feed. Note the hardware cloth walls. In case you are not aware, baby chicks can go right through chicken netting or a 1" hole.
    This would keep the chicks contained and protected from the other birds till the hatch is done and the whole family can be moved to the floor or other planned area together.
     
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    What I would do if it were me is to put a cardboard box or covered kitty litter pan (very popular with broody hens usually) on the floor under the nest box area and place her in it.

    I would move her to it every day until hopefully she got the idea. I have switched chickens like this before when they were broody and it worked (because I wanted to clean out the box, LOL).

    If you use this idea make SURE that you have the lip of whatever you use cut out OR place a brick/step there so that the baby chicks can get in and out of the box to get food and water.

    Additionally, I would like to mention that if you have a separate area for your broody hen available (like a hutch) that is ideal.

    In other words, you can wait until the chicks hatch (since you already tried to move her and it didn't work) and then move the whole brood and mom to the hutch for their protection.

    I prefer to keep new chicks away from the flock in a hutch because the other hens might kill them- then I move everyone back into the nestbox on the floor after a couple of weeks or more. The chicks become smarter about staying with mom as they get older and tend to leap away toward their mom better I have found, if another hen comes near. Some moms are better than others about protecting their chicks.

    BUT I do provide a little fenced in area around the hutch so that mom can take chicks out several times a day. It is very important to keep food and water within the hen's reach so that she doesn't have to arise from sitting on the nest to eat and drink. She will teach the babies to eat and drink while keeping other eggs/chicks warm who haven't hatched yet.

    This is just my experience- I am sure others have different experiences to share too.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    1- the box is 3 ft off the floor - so we'd have to block the opening off the day of hatching so they don't all fall to their death and get pecked alive by the other chickens.

    I've seen hens get chicks down from a 10' high hay loft. Mama says jump and they do. Then they get up and run to Mama. 3' off the floor does not even come close to concerning me. Mama will be able to get them down.

    You are dealing with living animals, so anything can happen, but if you have a decent lip across the bottom to help keep the nesting material and eggs in, it is highly unlikely the chicks will fall out until Mama tells them to jump.

    Other hens will sometimes peck young chicks. Mama does need to be able to protect them. Most of the time, the hens don't go out of their way to hurt the chicks, but will peck the chicks if the chicks wind up in their territory. And occasionally you will get a hen that actively tries to hurt the chicks. Usually Mama has such a bad attitude about that the attacking hen learns a lesson and changes her attitude. But again, not all broodies are the perfect Mama. They are living animals, and each n e is different. But broodies have been hatching chicks with the flock and raising them with the flock for thousands of years without human interference. Chickens are not extinct. It usually works out.


    2- the size of the box - is this big enough for when the eggs begin to hatch - ie, does our hen need to be moving around and standing up??


    12" x 12" is plenty big enough. You should see some of the tight spaces I've seen broodies hatch in when they hide a nest.


    3- we'd have to remove them all immediately after they dried to another area, which could be too upsetting for the mom?


    Broodies have been hatching and raising chicks with the flock without human interference for thousands of years. They are not extinct. You are dealing with living animals. It is possible bad things can happen.

    When I grew up on the farm, we never interfered with a broody when she was hatching. She hatched, got them down from the nest, which was usually in the coop and about 2' off the floor, and raised them. The other chickens were not a problem. Mama took care of that. Some of those nests were in some really strange places. I do think a big part if it is that Mama had lots of room to work. We totally free ranged. The chickens were never locked up.

    Here, I am in different circumstances than when I grew up. When a broody hatches in the coop, I let her bring the chicks off the nest when she is ready, then I put them in a prepared place for a couple of days so they can learn to eat and drink and gain better mobility without interference from the rest of the flock. Then I turn them loose to roam wherever Mama wants to take them. If Dad were alive to see what I do, he'd think I'd lost my mind the way I coddle my chicks. If your room is tight, you may need to interfere. But if Mama has a reasonable amount of room to work, she will normally do a great job.

    If you ever pick up a hen that has baby chicks, especially really small chicks, be careful. The chicks will crawl up under her wings and such. I killed a chick once by picking the hen up to see how many chicks she had by crushing the chick.

    There are some good reasons to separate her from the flock, but if you elect to let her hatch with the flock in an open nest, I suggest you collect all the eggs you want her to hatch and mark them. I use a Sharpie so I can see at a glance which eggs belong. I just draw a couple of circles around the eggs. Give them all to her at the same time so they all have the same incubation time and should hatch together. Check under her every day and remove any new eggs that might show up.

    I can't tell you that nothing bad will happen, whether you separate her or not. They are living animals. I do think the less you interfere, especially during hatch, the less likely you are to cause Mama a problem.

    Good luck with it. It is an exciting time and it can be a frustrating time. But it is almost always worth it.
     
  5. ThreeBoysChicks

    ThreeBoysChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2007
    Thurmont, MD
    Ok - This is just my opinion, but don't worry so much and let her do her thing where she is. In my horse stalls, I have plastic kitty litter buckets attached to the wall about 6 ft off the ground, they are smaller than 12X12X9. I have an Ameraucana that has hatched at least 6 clutches in them. She is amazing. When they hatched, they stay in and when she is ready, she flys out and they tumble out of the box onto the floor which is covered with rubber mats. Have not lost one yet.

    Animals are amazing and they have survived for many years, even before we decided that we know better than them.
     
  6. panipuri

    panipuri Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2012
    wonderful thoughts from everyone, ...If I just let her do her thing ...

    1) will the eggs be ok for the duration that she needs to jump out of the nest to eat and drink each day? I don't need to put food and water within neck stretching range do I?
    2) once they all hop down, how do I setup a little waterer and feeder for just the baby chicks to use (as things are now, it'd get trampled or buried in the pine shavings with all my other chickens running around- is this why I should section off a little part of the coop for them?
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    1) will the eggs be ok for the duration that she needs to jump out of the nest to eat and drink each day? I don't need to put food and water within neck stretching range do I?

    No, you do not. The hen has to get off the nest to go poop. She will eat and drink during that time. I've had them stay off the nest as long as an hour a couple of times a day in the heat of the summer. In cooler weather, they spend a lot more time off the nest. I think they are better off getting down, walking around, and getting some exercise.

    2) once they all hop down, how do I setup a little waterer and feeder for just the baby chicks to use (as things are now, it'd get trampled or buried in the pine shavings with all my other chickens running around- is this why I should section off a little part of the coop for them?

    What you need to do depends on your specific set-up. They will need water within reach. They are actually pretty mobile. They can get around a lot better than many people give them credit. You might consider a platform raised just a bit from your coop floor and big enough for adult chickens to stand on and put water up there. Just raise it enough and make it big enough so that the bedding is not scratched into the water too easily. It does not have to be fancy. Maybe a few bricks or cinder blocks or a piece of plywood somehow supported. You can even put feed up there if you want. I put my feed and water for them out in the run for them where there is no bedding, but mine also get to free range. Most of what they eat is what they forage. The chicks actually eat very little feed.

    One thing with mine. When I put feed out for the chicks where they can get to it, my adults consider that a special treat to be eaten before their regular feed. They will wipe it out, even if it is exactly the same as their regular feed. When I have young chicks in the flock, I don't feed Layer to any of them. I feed them all Starter or Grower with oyster shell off to the side for those that need it. I built a "crate" out of slats that the chicks can get through but the hens can't reach trhrough so I can keep some feed just for them. I jut turn the crate over and put the feeder under the crate. They find it. But again, this is a bit of overkill for what is absolutely necessary for mine.
     
  8. panipuri

    panipuri Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 26, 2012
    Ok we thought it over and are just going to go 'au natural' with our broody so we stuck 11 eggs under her tonight just in the nexting box where she already is ...and we'll see how it goes!

    Thanks SO much for all the input here, very very helpful.
     

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