Do I need to separate a hen and chicks from the flock?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Firefighter315, Apr 15, 2016.

  1. Firefighter315

    Firefighter315 Out Of The Brooder

    38
    3
    26
    May 6, 2015
    Washington state
    I have a broody hen that I managed to sneak 5 fertile eggs under. If and when any of them hatch do I need to separate her and the chicks from the other hens? If so for how long? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

    30,977
    22,136
    736
    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    It may be an idea to mark the eggs you set, in case other hens lay in the same nest. Its good to observe and make sure that she is not being kicked off the nest.

    Once the chicks are hatched, its really up to you how to proceed. Some people put mum and chicks in a mini-coop and others adopt a more laissez faire approach and let mum do her thing. As long as they have starter food and access to water, then things, in my experience are fine. Momma will not let any other hens near her chicks, so don't worry about that. All of the above is based on the assumption that you have plenty of space in your coop, that your flock either free ranges or has a very large run.

    You may wish to post on the "Broody Hen" thread for further advice / opinions.

    I'd suggest collecting as much info / feedback as possible and then do what you feel suits you and your flock the best. Very little of chicken keeping is caste in stone.

    Good luck
    CT
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    35,829
    9,333
    656
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,835
    1,508
    366
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    When I first started, I was advised to move the hen and eggs to another place, she sat there 3 days, left and went back to her old place, those eggs died, and I remember my grandfather telling me that a cow knew more about being a cow than he ever would, and I applied the same idea to chickens.

    I let her do what she wants to do. Granted, not every chick will live, but they often times don't when you incubate them either. If the hen lives with the flock, she will get down, once a day or two, take care of her needs, stomp around, growl at everyone and go back to her nest. This makes her quite high in the pecking order, the others give her a wide berth. Which when the chicks hatch is good, cause the chicks will stay close to her, and the layers secretly wonder just what the broody hen did, but whatever, and leave them all alone, and get used to them, and the flock integrates themselves.

    Where people get into huge problems is, they separate the hen away from the flock. The flock forgets this hen. Then the hen hatches the chicks, and they are so tiny and fragile, that they keep them away from the flock until they get about 4 week old, and want the flock to be a flock again. They put the whole group back into the pen, the layers attack the strange chicken, and the broody hens hormones are dropping, she no longer defends her chicks, she is trying to defend herself, and the layers often times kills the chicks.

    Marking the eggs is a good plan, because when the hen is out, some of those layers will sneak in and lay an egg with the idea, "hey, you may as well do all the work for me too!" Then the nest gets too filled with eggs. The eggs are in different stages of development, so would hatch at different times in an incubator, but the hen will leave the unhatched eggs. Every two or three days, take a towel down, and CAREFULLY lift her off the nest, checking carefully under her wings. She will peck at you, so the towel will protect you from that. That way you can see what eggs are under her.

    I have had them set perfectly for weeks, and then, get on the wrong nest! Ugh! But not to worry, just move her back. The eggs had been without her for 4-5 hours (estimate) and were cool to the touch, but hatched right on schedule. After the first few days, the eggs themselves produce some heat.

    Good luck, there is no better way to raise chicks than with a broody hen, I will never go back to a brooder box, what a mess.

    Mrs K
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,835
    1,508
    366
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    ps, if for some reason, none of them hatch, you can get day old chicks, and slip them under her in the dark, and she will take them. Thinking they are hers. This time of year, it is pretty easy to get fresh chicks. This sounds a bit heartless, but if your chicks are a bit chilled, they will be peeping wildly, and they will burrow under her and stick like a tick to her, and that helps turn off the setting hormone, into the feeding and caring for mode.

    Of if some hatch and you want more, you can add more, but they need to be very close to the same age, as in a day.

    MRs K
     
  6. Firefighter315

    Firefighter315 Out Of The Brooder

    38
    3
    26
    May 6, 2015
    Washington state
    Thank you so very much! Sorry it took so long to answer, it's been 26 days and nothing yet I think I may try putting chicks under her tomorrow night.
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,835
    1,508
    366
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I just put chicks under a broody hen, and she is adoring them, leading them around, feeding them, showing them how to drink. She kept them in today, but I bet she has them outside by tomorrow.

    Mrs K
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    35,829
    9,333
    656
    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Great!
     
  9. Firefighter315

    Firefighter315 Out Of The Brooder

    38
    3
    26
    May 6, 2015
    Washington state
    i

    I put five chicks under her last night. It went very well. This morning she was sitting on them keeping them warm! She only pecked when I removed the eggs from under her so I'm thinking all will go well. Thanks for your advice and the wise words from your grandfather!
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,835
    1,508
    366
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    My hen had mine outside today, even though it is a bit of snowing/raining mix. Could not see one, all tucked up warm. I am glad it is going well, it is so fun to raise chicks this way. Another thing I have found very successful, is to place a twelve inch wide board on the roosts at roost level about week 3-4. They will stay with her longer, as she can roost with the layers, a powerful urge, and she will get the chicks up there too, and they can still get a bit of warming.

    After that the growing chicks will be a sub flock in the flock until they lay.

    Mrs K
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by