Can a Hen be a Surrogate Mother If Never been a Mom Before?

CountingChickens

Songster
Jun 24, 2021
127
218
116
Louisville, KY
Hello! So I do not plan on expanding my flock until the spring of 2023, but my excitement has led me to ask this question. If and when one of my hens goes broody during this time, and hasn't been a mother to chicks before, will it be okay to purchase chicks and see if she will mother them?

I do not want a rooster, therefore, fertilized eggs cannot be a thing. But I read that a broody hen can be "snuck" baby chicks while she is sleeping and become their mother. This would mean my hen has never mothered chicks before as this is my first flock. I would keep a day's watch on the hen to be sure she is properly mothering the chicks and continue to keep an eye out. In the case of abandonment or worse, I would have a brooder ready. Has anyone ever had a hen become a surrogate mother to chicks without ever being a mom before?
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
35,378
290,117
1,662
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
My Coop
The way it works is, once you have a hen go broody you move her to a broody nest. The way I do it is in this article.
Then you give her the same number of fake eggs as chicks you'll buy.
Then you have to let her set for a minimum of 2 weeks before slipping chicks under her when it is completely dark outside. You remove the fake eggs at this time. The chicks shouldn't be older than a few days. Most broodies will readily accept them. Just be out in the coop before dawn to watch her. If she is softly clucking to them and they are peeping back, things should go just fine.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
35,378
290,117
1,662
NY Southern Tier
My Coop
My Coop
If the hen is broody it could work from what I understand. But it's also my understanding that it also depends on the hen too. Some are good mothers and some aren't.
Every single hen that has raised chicks was a first time mother at some point.
If you know you have a hen that just doesn't seem quite right, don't let her hatch. I did that once and it was a nightmare.
I also prefer to let higher ranking hens do the setting vs lower ranking ones.
 

Driley62

Songster
Jun 8, 2021
432
722
166
Chazy, NY
Every single hen that has raised chicks was a first time mother at some point.
If you know you have a hen that just doesn't seem quite right, don't let her hatch. I did that once and it was a nightmare.
I also prefer to let higher ranking hens do the setting vs lower ranking ones.
My australorp mix has been broody 3 times this year, not sure exactly where she sits on rank. But she was a wonderful mother the first time...well for how short she had them. I rehomed the chicks in less than a week.

All the other birds stayed clear away from her after they hatched.when we took them away she was cool with us but a force to be reckoned with in the flock as she was mad. We had no idea what to name her when we got her from my neighbor on a bird trade. But after she went broody the second time she earned the name mama because of her wanting to hatch and raise. This is her below.
 

Attachments

  • 20210809_134518.jpg
    20210809_134518.jpg
    434.7 KB · Views: 5

CountingChickens

Songster
Jun 24, 2021
127
218
116
Louisville, KY
Every single hen that has raised chicks was a first time mother at some point.
If you know you have a hen that just doesn't seem quite right, don't let her hatch. I did that once and it was a nightmare.
I also prefer to let higher ranking hens do the setting vs lower ranking ones.

Thank you! And what does ranking mean exactly? Such as heritage breed? I am still learning! Hahah.
 

CountingChickens

Songster
Jun 24, 2021
127
218
116
Louisville, KY
My australorp mix has been broody 3 times this year, not sure exactly where she sits on rank. But she was a wonderful mother the first time...well for how short she had them. I rehomed the chicks in less than a week.

All the other birds stayed clear away from her after they hatched.when we took them away she was cool with us but a force to be reckoned with in the flock as she was mad. We had no idea what to name her when we got her from my neighbor on a bird trade. But after she went broody the second time she earned the name mama because of her wanting to hatch and raise. This is her below.
Aw, what a beauty she is!
 

Driley62

Songster
Jun 8, 2021
432
722
166
Chazy, NY
Thank you! And what does ranking mean exactly? Such as heritage breed? I am still learning! Hahah.
Birds have a pecking order. Much like some species of fish have a hierarchy and just like the canine family. You have an alpha and the rest are subordinates but also follow an order. So you have like a recruit all the way up to general type of thing.
 

CountingChickens

Songster
Jun 24, 2021
127
218
116
Louisville, KY
Birds have a pecking order. Much like some species of fish have a hierarchy and just like the canine family. You have an alpha and the rest are subordinates but also follow an order. So you have like a recruit all the way up to general type of thing.
Oh, duh. I knew that hah. Okay, I am pretty sure one of my Black Stars is the "queen" of their hierarchy. However, I am trying to figure out where the others rank. I am positive my other Black Star is number two but after that I am not sure. Any tips on how I can get better insight on their rankings?
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom