Day old chicks, broody hen, nest and coop logistics

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by cyw iar, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. cyw iar

    cyw iar Out Of The Brooder

    So I've gotten a good feel that most broody hens will take to day old chicks placed under them under cover of darkness when the hens are in the chicken zombie stage of night. My question is logistics for the little buggers.

    I currently have two hens (by attrition; started with six, a fox moved into the neighborhood, she nabbed a couple, we stopped free-ranging for a month or two, fox moved on to greener pastures). One has been broody for over a month, and has been sitting on an empty nest for most of that time, determined to hatch... something. Imaginary eggs. Neither hen has been a mother before.

    So I have three baby chicks coming next week, and would like to try giving them to her, but the problem is the coop and the nest boxes. The boxes are bout 2 feet off the floor of the coop, and the pop door to the run is also about 18 inches or so up. I'm assuming the chicks won't be able to make the leap! Do I move the hen somehow, maybe to the floor of the coop, prior to giving her the chicks? Is it okay to keep them confined to the coop? There's also a nice deep pile of shavings on the floor of the coop, great for hens, but maybe problematic for chicks.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated. You can see pics of my coop in my profile, to get an idea of what I'm dealing with.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  2. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    It may be better to separate the hen and chicks completely. The other chickens may peck and/or kill the baby chicks out of curiosity.
    1 person likes this.
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I make a nest on the floor for broody hen and chicks. After the first week they can handle short hops, but for the first two or three weeks, you'll need a ramp so they can go in and out of the coop.
    1 person likes this.
  4. cyw iar

    cyw iar Out Of The Brooder

    @azygous, so I'm guessing you pluck her out of the nest box at night and deposit her and the chicks on the floor, and she's all "holy crap, my eggs hatched!"?

    What do you both think about the depth of bedding? Should I sweep it out and replace with shallow for the time being?
  5. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    No need to sneak the little family out of the nest box in the dead of night. You can move them any time. Move the chicks down to a nest on the floor and the broody will follow. She will be happy to be wherever the chicks are.

    Supply the bedding however deep you wish. The broody will arrange it to suit herself and the chicks.

    The broody does all the work. You don't need to do anything except supply food and clean water. It's the slickest way to raise chicks there is.
  6. cyw iar

    cyw iar Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks for the advice! Fingers crossed. She is a very determined hen.
  7. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    We all need maybe to learn the progression of stages that a brooding hen goes through when her eggs first begins to hatch but before she leaves the nest to squire her chicks around.

    While I am not impressed with a sitting hens level of intelligence I also do not underestimate her ability to discern her own chicks from interloper chicks.

    Hens fixated or bond to the chicks she has already seen and she is especially jealous or set against having any older, or larger chicks in her brood who will tend to usurp her own chicks opportunity to stay at the top or rise into the upper sections of the pecking order.

    Hens also resent being moved or messed with. What will work with one brood hen may utterly fail with the next half dozen.

    Also baby chickens are nothing like say baby robins who are tied to a nest as well as a fixed nest location for the first few weeks of life. They are perfectly capable of leaving their natal nest behind and go off into the big scary world after the first 3 days of being hovered in their natal nest.

    As long as you provide your biddies with a well roofed, dry, draft free pen or coop well carpeted with litter they should be fine.

    The hen will do the peeps' heavy fighting, scratching, and foraging for them as you will soon find out after emptying dirt, pebbles, sticks, straw, and other debris from their feed and water containers for like the one-hundredth time.

    One thing to be concerned about is a dust wallow or depression in the coop or pen the young chicks are living in. Hens are prone to using these dust bowl shaped depressions as an overnight nursery and a sudden downpour may fill your chicks' nursery with enough water to drown or chill them all.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    My hens brood their chicks on the floor of the coop/run/pen. The chicks can easily handle that drop, but they probably can't figure out how to get back up for a while. Hen usually hunkers down in a corner and broods there. I don't move the chicks, I let momma guide them where she wants.
  9. cyw iar

    cyw iar Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks for all the advice! I think I have a plan now. I'll section off part of the floor of the coop so the broody and foster chicks are safely separated from the other hen for a while and still have access to outside. And build a little ramp. I'll let you all know how it goes!
  10. cyw iar

    cyw iar Out Of The Brooder

    Ok - so, success with sectioning off the coop, successful delivery of three cute little fluff-balls (thanks USPS!), successful move of broody and her nest to the floor of the coop (I decided to move her first, because my nest boxes have fairly small openings; harder, I thought, to slip her the chicks).

    Now, here's I'm clearly missing something. I gave her a little time to get settled and sleepy after moving her, and then came in with the chicks. Maybe I didn't give her enough time, but she pecked at me, she pecked at the chick, and she both hissed and made a sort of toned purring noise. I'm thinking maybe I need to be more careful to put the chick under her? Other posters, and websites, have said it's like taking eggs out from under a hen, but to be honest, I've never actually done that. I just wait for them to get off the nest before collecting eggs. What i did was approach her side slowly with the chick in my hand, and she went to peck at my hand/the chick.

    Anybody have technique advice? I'd like to try again tonight. The chicks are three days old, btw.

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