Can my broody raise 20+ chicks if she doesn't have to hatch them all?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by PunkinPeep, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 24 eggs in the incubator, and they go into lock down on Monday.

    One of my BR girls has gone decidedly broody, but since i already have one broody mama with chicks - and 22 incubator babies, i am running out of safe places to keep them. I'm also much happier with broody-raised chicks, since they learn "how to be chickens" so much better from hens than from me.

    Here's what i'm thinking i could do. Tell me if you think it will work.

    Since i just moved my incubator babies out of the outdoor brooder, i could put my broody hen in the brooder with a few of the eggs that i'm already incubating. Then after both of ours start hatching, i could start moving the incubator babies out to her in the brooder. My only concern is the number. Last time, i hatched 23 out of 24. Do you think that is too many chicks for me to ask her to raise? Has anyone ever done this?

    I'm thinking it is really too many, but i would love to be wrong!

    And imagine the pictures!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd try it in a heartbeat. I love watching mamas raise chicks. They tend to hang together any how, so why not?
     
  3. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:OOOO I love your optimism!! [​IMG]
     
  4. bragabit

    bragabit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I tried 15 with my buff orpington and it was too many for 'her' to handle. But other hens may be better. My hen had a hard time keeping track of that many out in the pasture. So if you are not free ranging it may not be a problem. Sleeping was fine all 15 fit under.
     
  5. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    How big of a bird is she and is this her first time?
    I think it will work if she has enough body size and knows what she is doing.

    eta... I had a banty do fine with 13.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  6. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    mmaddie's mom :

    How big of a bird is she and is this her first time?
    I think it will work if she has enough body size and knows what she is doing.

    eta... I had a banty do fine with 13.

    This one is a year-old barred rock. And if i have her pegged right (i can't always tell my chickens apart), she raised a clutch of two about 5 months ago. Those two turned out great! [​IMG] And she was a great mother - watching them and keeping up with them long after other mothers have given up on theirs and left them to the wolves.​
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I did it with 15. My hatch was a bit staggered. Eggs from different places. I think I stored some a little to warm before incubating. Whatever. Whyever.

    I had 4 that hatched significantly earlier than the others. I had a broody that had been setting for about 3 weeks before these hatched. A snake ate the live eggs from under her but I let her set on plastic eggs. I took the first 4 that hatched early out and stuck them under the broody at 4:30 in the morning. They spent all that day and the next night in the nest with the broody. The next morning, the broody took those 4 off the nest. Luckily the snake did not return during that time. Ten more had hatched in the incubator, so I put the broody in a snake proof tractor and put her 4 chicks in a box with the other 10 chicks. I then dumped the box of 14 chicks in the tractor with a very anxious Mama. She took them all in. Meanwhile, when I went back to clean out the incubator, I noticed one was still alive but shrink-wrapped. Since it was my fault for opening the incubator earlier, I soaked it in a glass of warm water and picked most of the shelll and membrane off of it, then put it back in the incubator for a while. When it had dried off, I took it to the tractor and just set it on the ground. It joined the others, was accepted, and is thriving.

    I went through the above to tell you what I did so maybe you can pick something useful from it. As far as your real question. We obviously don't know how many you will hatch. Hopefully a bunch. Mama will be able to cover only so many chicks, especially as they grow. My Australorp could cover all 15 until they were about 2 weeks old. It was so hot here, even at night, that many did not always try to sleep under her anyway. They were sleeping on the ground but out of the wind. Even after they were too big to all fit under her, on a cool night they just slept in a pile and kept each other warm. All 15 made it fine. So consider how warm you expect it to be, especially at night. Depending on where they are staying, how they fare if it is raining might be a consideration.

    My Australorp had no trouble keeping them together out in the field or in the tall weeds under that elm tree. Where she had trouble was when she would take them into the run for food and drink, then some would not make it out the gate when she left toward her favorite spot, the compost heap. Mama would walk along the fence with half her brood with her and half stuck inside the run, following along but not knowing to go to the gate. The other chickens never bothered the chicks. Sometimes a rooster would come in and stay with the chicks until Mama finally got it sorted. Sometimes that was a couple of hours.

    How many is too many? I would not hesitate with 18. Above that, well, I just don't know. If your weather cooperates, you can probably go with more. If you run into nasty weather, you could run into problems.

    Good luck with the hatch and whatever you decide.
     
  8. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Ridgerunner's reply was really interesting. I've never had more than 4 around at once, so nothing to add.

    Good luck.
     
  9. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for all your replies!

    After i started telling dh what i was going to do, he reminded me that we're not keeping this clutch. They're going to a new owner when they hatch. I had completely forgotten, so i don't get to try it this time, but i will probably try it in the future.

    I have taken to keeping broody hens and their chicks in the run (separate from the free ranging flock) for about one to two weeks after hatch, so i wouldn't be too worried about them losing their mama. Hopefully, maybe next month, i will be able to try this. It sounds like a lot of fun!

    Thanks so much for the replies. I have more wisdom and confidence now.
     
  10. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    OOPs! [​IMG]
     

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