can I leave broody hen to hatch eggs in small coop?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by siouxbee, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. siouxbee

    siouxbee Songster

    May 8, 2007
    One of our BLRW's has gone broody. I think she's been in the box 2, possibly 3 days.

    I have 7 hens, 1 roo. They're in a 4 x 8 coop with 4 nestboxes (2 over 2), two of which use the exterior wall as their wall, and since I never got around to putting that roof on, the hay in those can get damp when it rains heavily. So they don't lay there and I've removed the damp hay and not replaced it. Hence, they all lay in the bottom inside box, with the occasional egg in the top inside box.

    Where she's now brooding. For the past two days, I've opened the coop to find a hen sitting on top of her. I know I need to stop them from adding eggs to her clutch or I'll have a problem once the earlier ones begin to hatch.

    Should I block off the nest box during the day and night with fencing that she can stick her head through for water and food?

    If I don't remove her from the coop, will she have an easier time of integrating the baby chicks into the new flock, or should I separate her to hatch and then stay with them, and if so, for how long?

    I have an older rabbit hutch I could relocate her to, but I have some concerns about that. First, I haven't cleaned it yet, and without a powerwasher, I'm not confident in my ability to sanitize it enough to make a safe, healthy environment for baby chicks.

    It also has a hardware cloth floor, which I've read is terrible for baby chicks' legs/feet.

    So, can I keep her in the coop and just block the other hens' access to the nestbox? Once she hatches the eggs, should I remove them all? '

    Thanks for any advice.

  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    You can keep them all in the coop, and if she doesn't hatch too many, she can easily protect one or two, maybe three no problem. But if she has more, her own digs would be best. Take a pencil/crayon and decorate the eggs you want her to hatch, and every day just take out the eggs that are not decorated. That way you can have them all "set" on the same day. Don't worry, she can't count eggs.

    As for integration, mommy hen will want to take chicks to sleep with the rest within a few weeks. Moving her may break her broodiness but you can try. No need to make anything super sanitary for the babies either. The more exposure to adults as newborns the better. Growing up in a sterile brooder is one of the worst things you can do for them as they need to build up immunities. Never had a singe broody raised chick get sick or have a problem like brooder babies can have. With reasonable cleanliness, meaning changing litter but no disinfectants, bleach and so on, they should be fine.

    I personally have let my broodies hatch out one or two eggs at a time, and just let them go start to finish where ever the in the coop they want and never remove them from the rest of the flock. they do fine.

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