Chicks in the Coop with Mama Now in Cooler Weather or Try to Break a Broody Hen


In the Brooder
7 Years
Mar 21, 2012
Charlotte, NC
I am a first time chicken owner and have 4 urban backyard chickens that hatched on April 9th. Our one silkie laid for about 3 to 4 weeks and has now gone broody. She has been broody for about a week now and I force her to have mandatory fun (i.e. eat and drink) twice daily. Once a day I take her completely out of the coop and run and force her to free range with the others but after about 10 minutes she just paces in front of the coop until I let her back in. I have access to some silkie hatching eggs and I was thinking about getting 2 for her, but I am concerned that it is getting colder (highs for the next week or so are in the 50s to low 60s and the lows are in the 30s and 40s) and I don't know how chicks would fare once hatched. Can she raise them in the coop? Do I have to take them away? That seems to deprive this mama-want-to-be from her raison d'etre right now. I haven't yet tried to break her of her broodiness, but that would be another possibility, even though I've read some silkies are very difficult to break. I also wasn't really planning on adding a chicken or two to my flock this year and if I get a rooster, I'll have to re-home it which might be difficult here in the city. What would you do?
I do much what you're doing if I don't want chicks. I don't know that it breaks them of the broodiness any sooner, but I think they maintain their weight, muscle strength and general health better this way. If you decide to let her hatch chicks, you can actually let her raise them in with the rest of the flock, and even do her setting with the flock if you wish. I do separate them for setting, to avoid the moving eggs, others adding eggs to the nest, and other commotion that happens. However, I always let them raise the chicks with the flock, to avoid integrating the chicks later -- and housing them separately from when mama stops mothering at a few weeks til they are full size. The chicks will do fine in cool weather; all they need is mama.

You could try the bare cage method of breaking her if you wish, though a silkie will most likely just go broody again soon.
If you have babies you may have to bring them in the house depending on your outdoor setup. More chicks are going to do better because they can share body heat. One or two are going to have a rougher time in winter and possibly need a light or heat. I don't like lighting them at night for heat because it throws off their circadian rhythms just like us. I would probably encourage the silkie to quit. Make sure she doesn't have eggs or anything to sit, golfballs, rocks, etc. She will eat and walk around as she needs. I always make sure to dust under the broody because she can pick up mites more easily. She may enjoy the zen state of sitting even without eggs for a month or so. I just try to accept her path even though I want to see her out with the others.
We had the same thing happen to our silkie. She laid eggs for a few weeks and then decided she was going to hatch eggs instead. We let her sit for over a month and she didn't look like she was going to give up soon... We had to give her some plastic easter eggs filled with rocks since she really wanted to sit on the eggs the other girls hatched, and then didn't want us to remove the egg... it was just better to let her take over one nest box with her easter eggs.

We finally gave in last week and got her a few chicks. Right after sunset, we took her easter eggs and stuffed the chicks under her. So far, she has been a great mama!! It has been lots of fun to see. We do anticipate the possiblity of losing a couple of chicks since I expect that in the coming weeks, it is going to get much colder.

I was told that chicks that grow up with mama in the coop they have a high risk to get coccidiosis because they will eventually try to eat the other hen's poop? Is that true? In anycase, so far all is good and mama hen seems happy enough!

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