Can broody's be fooled to adopt instead of hatch?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Bens-Hens, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi all,

    We just hatched two small Coronation Sussex chicks. They hatched this morning, and just this afternoon we get our first broody, a Silver Pencilled Wyandotte. Just my luck really, to get our first 'full auto' mum the day we hatch some 'the other way'.

    My question is, can, and at what point could we slide the chicks under the broody? Can she adopt them and give up her broodiness? Should we wait until the chicks are a couple of days old to give them strength and make sure the SPW is serious about her parenting ambitions?

    Anyone done this before and not had their chicks hurt? Is there anything I should be looking for?

    I could separate her and the chicks and put them all on starter feed but other than that I don't even know if it's possible to trick her into thinking she has done it herself.

    Thanks in advance,

  2. spikennipper

    spikennipper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2009
    Kent, UK.
    If she is broody then absolutely yes she can adopt chicks and be fooled, she will need to be broody and stay broody for it to work though.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That timing makes it interesting doesn’t it? It certainly adds an element of unknown to it.

    I’d try it if she is acting seriously broody, but yes, there is a risk. It’s night in Australia and you need to get the chicks under her pretty soon, before they are 3 days old it possible. I’d probably wait until tomorrow night and slip them under her a little after dark but get out there pretty early the next morning to see how it’s going.

    Hens can’t really count, either days or chicks, but people seem to have better luck doing this if the hen has been broody a while. Personally I’ve never done it that quickly, the hen has always been broody a couple of weeks at least, but that’s just due to timing, no more choice than you have. Plenty of people on this forum have reported success that early. Some have reported failure too.

    A whole lot of it depends on the hen’s personality. A lot of broodies will adopt chicks at any time, day or night, sometimes even much older chicks. Some even reject some that they hatch themselves. They are living animals, you can never be sure what they will do. But I’d think trying it at night would give you a pretty good chance at success.

    Good luck!
  4. Hanna8

    Hanna8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 26, 2012
    Yes, that will work. Let her brood for a while then when it would be about time for her eggs to hatch, slip some chicks under. I have seen it recommended that you do this at night or in the early morning hours when she will be sleepy and not notice so much. I think most hens won't care either way if they notice. The instinct to raise the babies is too strong, no matter where they think they came from.
    The younger the chicks are when introduced, the more smoothly the introduction will go.
  5. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks team, much to consider. Good to know it is certainly possible, but also greatful to know there is a risk. I have just been working my way through a broody thread...but it's 270 something pages long, so taking some time to glean the info I need in this instance.

    Still undecided lol, will give it another day or so to make sure she is serious first. We had a RIR a while back make a start but gave up not long after.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Yes, my rule is that the hen has to spend two consecutive nights on the nest before she gets eggs. I’ve had some that only lasted one night. Broodiness is caused by hormones and sometimes they don’t kick in strong enough.
  7. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks! A very good lesson there. She spent the night on the nest, but got off in the morning for some scratch and did not go back.

    The voices were not strong enough in this little pullets head! I appreciate the time to answer my questions, some day we would like to let nature do the work but I don't think it will be this time.
  8. lawnbirdman

    lawnbirdman New Egg

    Dec 29, 2012
    York, Pennsylvania
    I had an Australorp hen that was broody for about a month. She would steal eggs from my easter eg.gers and just sit on them almost all day. She was looking unhealthy so I decided to buy 5 chicks day old chicks and see what happens. I waited till my broody hen took her 15 minute foraging break away from the brood-house, I snuck in and cracked the eggs, dumped out the yolks and replaced the shells and put all 5 chicks in there. I thought I was outsmarting her but I don't think I did, She was not happy. For about an hour she was noisy and flapping around trying to get away from the chicks and stepping on them with no regard for their safety. She finally settled down and tucked herself into the corner of the brooder as the sun was setting. The chicks then went up to her one by one and she gently pecked each one under her, tucking in the one before to allow the next. I was in awe when I saw this, I thought it was hopeless. Her adoptive chicks are now about 4 weeks old and she since that night has been an amazing mother, protecting, scratching/foraging, and keeping them warm. Since a day old they have been free ranging with their "momma", no heat, no worries and less mess. Jasmin (momma hen (named by my 5 yr old)) taught me a lot this past month
    1 person likes this.
  9. chrissyr

    chrissyr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2013
    Many times you can put chicks under a broody. BUT it usually needs to be close to the 21 day mark. At least that's what I've been taught. If it's only a couple days broody, she probably WONT accept them. When you do it, it's best to do it at night. The gives her time to think the eggs hatched and bond with them. Most broodies (the exception may be some silkies) not want ANY chick, they want THEIRS. Then you have to watch because some hens will even hatch their own and end up trying to kill them.
  10. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    I just wanted to come back and update this thread.

    Both our broodies decided to stick to it. We moved the RIR to another area and set her up with a nice nest, food and water. We gave her some plastic eggs to test how serious she was. To which she did not move from for nearly a week.

    The SPW also has been committed, but is still in the main run, which has elevated nest boxes. We are keeping her as an understudy. Her training involves attempting to hatch a golf ball, I could always do with some more of those anyway.

    Today, we purchased three chicks, 2 BR's and a Blue Australorp, and after dark we put them under the RIR. It seems they have been accepted by the broody.

    Now, to make sure the mum shows the chicks the ropes!



    Thanks for your contributions and helping us through our first broody adoption.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by