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Chicks in the night

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by SuperK, Aug 14, 2016.

  1. JoAnn and I have 6 hens that up until a week or so ago have been laying 4-5 eggs a week, Enough to fill two one dozen egg cartons before we can use them up. Well, we started noticing a tapering off of production and two of the hens went full broody. Won't leave the nest boxes, pecks every time we checked for eggs, and in a generally fowl mood.
    We decided to leave a few eggs in the nest boxes for the broodies so they could feel they were 'their' clutch. Okay, so to tell the new eggs from the old ones we left for them, we marked the eggs with dots. Yes, I have 5 nest boxes for 6 hens and of course they all want to lay in the same two boxes the broodies are in!
    The other day JoAnn says to me, "We should get some fertilized eggs and swap them out. Then the Broodies will be moms..." and went on to say other supporting arguments, but I didn't hear them. I was already on the phone to our neighborhood chicken lady and talking about a dozen fertile eggs(really good price!) but right now her hens had some health issues and she didn't want to spread it around, [thank you!], Well so much for that idea.

    Okay, so yesterday we were taking a morning drive along Government Beach Road, a real pretty drive here that dumped us out in Pahoa, about 10 miles from us. We decided to have lunch there and after, I remembered there was a feed store that often had chicks. so we stopped in and they had a bunch! Rhode Island Reds, Ameraucana, and Barred Rocks. All 2-3 days old and sexed for pullets. The barred rocks were a customers order so we decided to get 6 Rhode Island Reds and slip them under the Broodies!

    Here they are! yeah cell phone pic is lousy, but more photos below


    OKAy, we waited about 8 hours after we got them to sneak them into the nest boxes. After dark, when the girls were supposed to be asleep. The feed store guy told us that he wasn't sure we'd be able to do this, he'd only heard of limited success on getting a broody to accept chicks but we were going to try anyway.
    So we get out there, and the chicks were not asleep, but they were quiet, the hens were until I undid the nest box door. But they were also quiet. The hens,(4 now in two nests) pecked my hands as I reached for the eggs, and JoAnn replaced them with the chicks. They never once pecked at the chicks, but our hands, yes.

    We were worried that come sun up we may see a few of the 6 wounded or hurt or dead- pretty much we weren't sure what we'd find. The Sun rose with a fiery display in the clouds and one of the hens did her "I laid an egg" song way too early for any of them! I am sure they might have been sleep pecking us last night because it sounded like this one was genuinely surprised to see the new little ones in the nest box! We rushed out to see what was happening. 3 of the 6 hens were out and about, scratching like nothing happened, so we opened the nest box door. The other three hens were in boxes, two in one, with four chicks, the single hen with two. All were alive and looking our over their new mom.

    Reality time: The height of the nest box precludes the chicks from re-entering once they are out, and since they need to be out of the nest boxes to eat and drink, we decided it was a good time to go. That way we'd be there in case something happened. We scooted the babies out of the nests, and moms followed, but one returned. The chicks nestled together in the corner, we set up the feeder for them, and the waterer next to that. We purchased the same type the feed store had in the cage with the chicks as they were both used to and using them already. One of the Hens (Miss broody pants-though I can't tell them apart) came right over to set herself between us and the chicks. A good sign. We locked up and returned a few hours later to take these photos and Broody pants has chased out all the other hens, claimed all 6 of the chicks, and is mothering them like they were always hers. In turn, they are treating them like their imprinted mom and as a climbing frame!

    JoAnn thought that the second and third hens were getting short changed so we went back to the feed store today to get more chicks for another midnight drop off! We bought the remaining 6 Barred Rock chicks that the store had that weren't claimed by the previous customer and they are in the holding pen(box) until tonight for another covert operation.

    Here are their photos:

    Update tomorrow!!

  2. MissJane

    MissJane In the Brooder

    Dec 13, 2015
    NW PA
    Thanks for posting your experience. I can't wait to hear more. Also loving the name Miss Broody Pants.
  3. Thanks Miss Jane, we haven't named any of them, simply because we cant tell them apart. I have sent away for leg bands in colors so we will able to name them soon.
    Update as promised, We went back to the Feed store and picked up the 6 Barred Rocks that weren't part of a customers order, and planned another midnight raid. Well, it went off without a hitch cause in the morning, we had 6 more live baby chicks tucked warmly under their new mom. I still needed to scoot them out of the nest box, but just because it is so high they won't be able to get back in there yet. What we did notice this morning though, is that Miss Broody Pants(the only one with a name now) is chasing the new chicks out from under her! Not sure if her 6 is enough for her, or that she doesn't like the newbies, or what, but It's good that our 2nd broody hen took to them right away. We did put a next box down on the floor, but neither bird wanted to go back into it so we placed them back in their spots. As for whether or not hens will take care of chicks they didn't hatch? Well, mine have their preferences, but they will and they are. Whew!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. MissJane

    MissJane In the Brooder

    Dec 13, 2015
    NW PA
    Glad to hear the two new mommies are happy with their adoptive chickies. I love the idea of giving a broody hen chicks in the night. And I always enjoy hearing how it goes.
  5. JaeG

    JaeG Free Ranging Premium Member

    Sep 29, 2014
    New Zealand
    So glad it's all worked out and your broodies are happy. I've done this twice with my bantam girls and they've been fantastic. One was broody for 10 weeks and was determined something was going to hatch. So we've just caved and given her 4 silkies chicks and she's so happy. We gave them to her when it was still light and it all went well. She's very sweet and letting us help her and handle them. Enjoy your little ones. I love watching broodies look after their chicks. It's so sweet.

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