Facilitating broody hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chooketychook, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. chooketychook

    chooketychook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi im currently re arranging my run and coops into sections,I have four sections and plan to have the large hen area,dove area,broody hen area and grow out section.
    My question is can broody hens stay in the same area even after they have hatched chicks? My plan was to give them small indivisual coops they can sit on eggs and chicks then when the chicks get to 6 weeks put them in a seperate grow out area,but Im sure I read somewhere that if they hear the hen next to them with there chicks they will abandon there eggs,so would it be best if I have a broody coop and when a hens eggs have hatched bring the hen and its chicks into a grow out area?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    No one can tell you what is best for you in your unique circumstances with your unique chickens. Each chicken has its own unique personality. We house and manage them all differently. There is often a big difference in what might possibly happen and what will absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt happen 100% of the time.

    Some people have no problems with multiple broodies hatching together, either sharing nests and chickens or each with their own separate eggs and chicks. There are many posts on this forum about how “cute” that is when they work together raising the chicks. There are photos of different broodies each on their own nest in a bank of nests. A lot of people really don’t have a problem with multiple broodies together.

    There are bad things that can possibly might happen though. The two broodies might fight over the eggs or chicks with the eggs or chicks being damaged or killed. One broody wants them all for herself and won’t cooperate. One broody may try to kill the chicks that hatch under another broody whether they are sharing a nest or with separate nests. As you mentioned, if a broody hears chicks hatching under another broody, she may abandon her nest to go to the other chicks. If that happens the hens might cooperate or fight.

    I let my hens hatch with the flock and raise the chicks with the flock. I don’t separate them at all. That way I don’t have to worry about re-integrating the broody or integrating the chicks. It’s generally not a problem but you are dealing with living animals. Things sometimes happen. I do think the more room you have the less likely you are to have problems, but space is no guarantee either.

    I mark the eggs I want the broody to hatch and check under her every evening to remove any eggs the others lay with her. On very rare occasions I find a broken egg. That is practically always a very thin-shelled egg which may have been broken when another hen crowded on to lay an egg with the broody or maybe the broody broke it turning her eggs.

    Something that happens a little more often. When a broody returns from her daily constitutional she finds another hen on her nest laying an egg so the broody goes to a different nest. When I see that, I just put the broody back in her own nest. That happened last year and the eggs were ice cold to the touch when I put her back. She still hatched 11 of 11 eggs.

    I’ve never had a problem with another chicken going out of her way to damage the eggs or the chicks. Some people have experienced that. The only problems I’ve had with a hen raising chicks could have happened whether they were with the flock or separate. One time I had a chick peck and severely damage one of its siblings while the broody watched. I separated the attacking chick for a few hours. One morning I found another chick dead from the same thing, same broody and chicks, with the chicks around 2 weeks old. Another time I had a one-week-old chick get separated from the broody and get into a pen of 8-week-olds. The broody could not get in there to protect it. They killed it. That’s a word of warning to you. If you build a separate area for the broody and chicks make sure the chicks cannot get away from the broody’s protection and with the flock.

    There is no right way or wrong way to do any of this, just the way we choose to do it. Our experiences may indicate that one way is best for us in our unique circumstances with our unique chickens, but those experiences are usually rough and we learn after the fact.

    Good luck however you choose to proceed.
     
  3. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Good advice from Ridgerunner. I've done it about every way there is. My first broody, I separated her into a small coop/run where she could see/interact with the rest of the flock but they couldn't squeeze in and lay their eggs in her nest. That worked great. Once the chicks hatched, I left them there for a few days but then Mama Hen let me know she was ready to be out and I opened the door and she led the chicks out into the flock. The other hens didn't mess with her or the chicks and they were integrated into the flock by the time they were a few days old.

    This year, I had about a dozen broodies at the same time, and I didn't have a way to segregate each of them into their own separate area. I found that they shared nests quite well. The main problem with this was that I had to mark the eggs since the non-broody hens laid their eggs in the nests each day. Then, I had to stress out the broody hens by lifting them off each evening to gather the eggs I didn't want them hatching. For this reason, I do prefer to have an area for broodies to do their thing.

    I have never had a broody hen leave a nest because she heard chicks hatching in another nest. And, I've never had other birds in the flock mess with new chicks - around here they are so used to new chicks/ducklings hatching all the time that they don't even pay them any attention. But, I've found there is mass confusion if I let a hen hatch right in the main coop. It seems to take a few days for the new mum to bond with her chicks - and they to her - to the point they know who to listen to when a hen clucks to them. So, if I leave them all in the main coop, I have chicks abandoning their mama to run under a different broody hen.

    My hens have always cooperated with co-parenting. At one point I had 4 hens co-parenting 6 chicks. Another time I had a hen and a duck co-parenting 4 ducklings. Yes, it is fun to see them working together and seeing the babies run under any of their mothers when they need to warm up. But - when I have multiple broodies, I would prefer that they each have their own little batch of babies to raise, since that way I can get more raised for me, instead of having to also run a brooder. So - when I have the space to segregate them, I do it. Once the chicks are 4-5 days old, I let them and their mother out and into the main flock. By that time the chicks know who their mama is - and she is bonded enough to them to protect them. But, she hasn't been segregated long enough that the other hens shun her. (Actually, I have several small pens within the chicken yard so they are never truly segregated anyway - they can still see and interact with one another through the hardware cloth of the small pens.)
     
  4. chooketychook

    chooketychook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for all that information,I never realised there was so many differant ways people allow there hens to hatch chicks I thought there was a way that everyone followed,my coop/run layout is also layed out in a way that all the chucks and doves can see each other but if nessasery cant reach each other,I also didnt realise you could let the chicks and the hen back into the main flock so early,I thought it was a matter of weeks,thats brill because it means I now have more space to work with,so now I may make my grow out coop into the "love shack" ,thanks again,really appreciated x
     
  5. chooketychook

    chooketychook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also how do you go about food once you have intergrated them back with the main flock,do you change all the food to chick start?
     
  6. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I use a grower formula such as "Purina FlockRaiser" or "Nutrena All Flock". These are typically a little higher in protein than layer formula and do not have the additional calcium that layers need. Then I leave a bowl of shell for the layers to eat as needed.
     
  7. chooketychook

    chooketychook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks again,im not sure where your from but im in uk westmidlands,in the store I can only get chick starter,grower pellets,then layer pellets I havent came across any differant brands or anything promoting more or less vitamins ect...
    So would you say its safe to feed a few days old chicks grower pellets or would the older chickens be ok of chick starter?
     
  8. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Either option will work. I've fed grower pellets and while they are too big for a newly hatched chick, the mums break up the pellets for them so they can eat. Or, you can feed the whole flock the chick starter. I tend not to do this mainly because I have some great options for grower formulas available to me. Also, is your chick starter medicated or non-medicated? We can get both here, but I've always been a little unsure about feeding the medicated chick starter to the whole flock, and I figure if I'm feeding the unmedicated, it isn't different enough to the grower formula that I may as well just stick with that.

    The main thing is, no matter which option you decide to go with, it won't contain enough calcium for the older hens, so you will need to offer them supplemental shell. You can probably buy oyster shell at the same place you get the feed, and that is a valid option, though I've found mine far prefer their own egg shells dried, crushed and given back to them. I've had the same bag of oyster shell for over 4 years and I'm not even halfway through it - yet, if I bring out a container of egg shell, they'll jump up to try to get it out of my hands.
     
  9. chooketychook

    chooketychook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hiya no I cant get medicated chick starter either,everything is basic for hens living in the city you get better options for cats,dogs,hamsters ect...Normal pets =\
    We do have the shells my flock are not interested in them they prefare the grit but we do have poultry tonic which I will use,im scared to give them egg shells incase they eat there own eggs.
    But at least I know now thank you I will try a starter and pellet mixed feed
     
  10. cluck cluck 123

    cluck cluck 123 Out Of The Brooder

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    It really depends on the chicken. my broody hen stayed in the same spot after she hatched the chick.[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     

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