First attempt at letting a broody hen hatch chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Gorman Farm, Jan 13, 2017.

  1. Gorman Farm

    Gorman Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have a red hen (mixed breed) that kept going broody, after 3 times of breaking her out of the broodiness I decided to let her sit on some eggs. I wasn't sure how it would turn out. We live in Florida and even though it is winter it is fairly warm out.
    Yesterday evening at feeding time I saw a small pip in one of the eggs and when I went out this morning there were 3 chicks under her. She still has two unhatched eggs as well. She is keeping babies warm under her and still keeping the remaining eggs warm. I took a few pictures to share.[​IMG]

    We only have one rooster and he is a Buff Orpington, the eggs she sat on were from my Buff hen, my black sex links, and her own. So we will see who came from whom. The one in the front is for sure a Buff, I think the darker one is either hers or from my black sex link. The most recent one was hidden under her I couldn't get a pic but it is also a yellow chick.[​IMG]
    here is a better pic of the buff baby.

    [​IMG]
    Here is the Buff Roo and one of my sex link hens.
    All the eggs I let her sit on were laid within 48 hours so the rest should hatch by Sunday at the latest.
    I have her in the coop, but in a dog crate with a shavings floor and cardboard part way up the sides. I changed the feed in there to medicated chick starter, and of course they have fresh water. I guess mom will show them what to do? I have only done incubated eggs prior to this and I have no idea what to expect? Do I leave the door to crate open or should I keep it closed for now? I have never put my incubated babies with the flock until they are at least 3 months old.

    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi and congratulations on your hatch so far.

    I allow my broody hens to raise their chicks in the flock and have not experienced any problems but I free range which helps to prevent any aggressive behaviour. Having plenty of space is important to prevent behavioural issues in general. I tend to keep the broody hen and chicks confined for the first few days after hatch, so that she gets the hang of looking after them and marshalling them, before she has to cope with them running about in a larger area and other flock mates possibly showing an interest. I would therefore recommend keep the cage closed for a couple of days after hatch and then open if and let her decide but do it when you can be there to supervise.
    You may find that your other hens are keen to eat the chick crumb though, so keep an eye on that particularly if it is medicated..... broody reared chicks usually manage fine on unmedicated crumb as their immune system is more robust but giving them medicated will not harm....Not sure if there is a withdrawal for eggs if your layers start eating it though....I know there is a withdrawal period for meat. I have a bottomless cage that I chock up on blocks a couple of inches that the chicks can duck under to access their food but the bigger hens can't get into, so that might be something you could try if your layers start helping themselves to it.

    For your information if is irrelevant when the eggs were laid. The clock starts when they are set under the broody, so assuming you set all the eggs at the same time, they should all hatch within 48 hrs even if some were laid a week before the others. If you are meaning that your other hens added to her clutch after she started setting then yes there will be a staggered hatch. If it is just a couple of days she should manage ok but if it goes longer than that you would be best advised to remove the remaining eggs and finish them off in your incubator and then return any chicks that hatch from then to your broody once they are dry best at night time.

    Best wishes with them

    Barbara
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Congratulations on your broody hatch!

    You should be able to leave things to momma. She'll hang out on the nest for another day or so, to allow the stragglers to hatch. Then she'll get up and start showing the chicks to the world. Leave the door to the crate open and let her come and go as she chooses. She will be so crabby no one will mess with her or the babies. There maybe some introductory pecking, mostly the older hens teaching the littles to stay out of their way. A peck here and there is no big deal. An older hen cornering a chick and relentlessly pecking is another story and would need intervention, but in my experience that is very rare. I've never had a grown rooster be a problem for little chicks.

    I think you'll find things go so much easier letting momma do the heavy lifting for you. No integration issues later, etc. They'll just grow up in the flock and find their place.
     
  4. Gorman Farm

    Gorman Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for the advise.
    What I meant by the 48 hours is; she starting being broody in the main nesting box which I couldn't let her stay in as all the other hens lay there, so I moved the three original eggs(hers and two from other hens) to a bedded dog crate, at that point it was open and she was free to leave if she wanted, I waited till the next day to see if she still wanted to stay on the eggs and she did, so I added 2 that were laid that day, so the first eggs had an extra day under her. I figured if she was going to brood she might as well sit on 5 as opposed to three.
     
  5. Gorman Farm

    Gorman Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think that is what I will do. I will give them a few days to be all hatched and acclimated and switch out the medicated chick starter for regular chick starter and leave the door open.My chickens are little piggies so for sure they might eat the chick feed even though they have three other food bowls to choose from. LOL
     
  6. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    My broody hens and chicks will stay in their dog crate for a few days, and then I open the door while the flock is free ranging, and let mom and babies start to do their thing out of the crate. Usually they go back into the crate to sleep, at least for another week, before mom decides to nestle in a corner of the coop at night. Then I remove the dog crate; she's not using it any more. My flock eats Flock Raiser, an all-flock diet, so there's no issue with separate meals for babies, cocks, or laying hens. Chicks are so cute! Mary
     
  7. Gorman Farm

    Gorman Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 16, 2015
    thanks for the tips
     
  8. Gorman Farm

    Gorman Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 16, 2015
    thanks for the tips
     
  9. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just wanted to mention that in my experience, if there is a layer feed present, the hen will indeed break it up and feed it to her chicks, even though there's plenty of chick starter available. I'm in agreement with Folly's Place on feeding an All-Flock (with oyster on the side for the current layers) as all the extra calcium isn't good for the chicks. I also tried to just have chick feed available for them and the regular food for everyone else- making it all the same food for everyone until the chicks are old enough is much simpler. Enjoy your new additions!
     
  10. Gorman Farm

    Gorman Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmm ok, I typically throw the oyster shell crumbles out in the run don't keep it in the coop. I will try to figure out what works best. I feed a non-GMO layer pellet mixed with a small amount of scratch. I have 2 really picky hens tried to switch food once before and they stopped laying and got a bit thin.
     

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