First time hatching with broody hen


Jul 29, 2016
I had a broody hen hatch 6 babies about 2.5 weeks ago. They are all mixed breeds, doing well!

I got the eggs from a local farmer she had a mix of Lavender oprtingtons, welssumers, americaunas,
Silver and gold laces wyandottes, cochins, marans, etc.

And two roosters: Jersey Giant and Jubilee orpington
So, being somewhat inexperienced, I have no clue what I ended up with but that's fine by me! However, if I did the feather sexing correctly, I have 5 roosters and only 1 pullet, which is a sight bummer!
I have a couple of questions:

I kept momma and the babies separate in a large dog crate since she became broody. Over the last week they have been free ranging with the other hens. I have five 1.5 year old BOs. They don't seem phased by the babies at all. That being said, I'm ready to get rid of the dog crate and integrate them into the large coop. How should I go about doing that?
Do I just take out the crate and hope momma realizes to go into the coop tonight? And that the chicks can get up the ramp into the coop? Will they figure out a place to sleep? Should I add an extra roost for them?

At what age can I be certain of the sex?

How long can I keep multiple roosters together before fights start happening? I only plan on keeping one rooster and putting the rest in the freezer.

At what age can the roosters be culled for meat? Any tips on this would be appreciated! We have only had chickens for year and a half and have not gone through this process yet.

Any other insight would be great! I have loved watching my broody hen raise these babies! I can't wait to do it again!
I love broody hens too I am going to face this problem In the future because my hen hatches hers on the 17th and she's separated but my plan is to introduce them back during the day I expect some fighting because she lost her place in the pecking order she was top hen so she may just take it back. I'll watch them in them in the evening I assume she'll remember where to go to sleep in my past broody experience they don't take them to the roost until their older and when they wein them they'll take them to the nest to sleep so I wouldn't worry about putting a new roost in unless there isn't room for them in the future. Roosters will probably start fighting around 2 to 3 months and the best time to cull them is around 16 to 17 weeks any further past this they will be tough and need to be stew I recommend 16 weeks so you can make sure there good.
No one messes with a momma hen, she will let the rest of the flock know not to mess with her babies right away. One of my broody hens has just started to encourage her chicks to come onto the roost bar and they are almost 5 weeks old now. My other mom is still sitting on hers in a nestbox each night.
You could remove the crate and be there at dusk to gently guide them over to the coop to go up for the night. How is your ramp set up? Depending on your set up, momma will encourage them up the ramp. Do you have a low nest for them to go in inside the coop? Otherwise, a cardboard box or milk crate or something would work on the floor for the family to use.
There's hope - feather sexing only works on specific crosses. You have to use a fast feathering rooster and a slow feathering hen. Around 6-8 weeks you should see a difference between the sexes. Cockerels will have big, dangling, red wattles, and larger, redder combs. Pullets won't have much wattle or comb at that age, and theirs will be pink or flesh coloured. You can post photos of your babies at that age on the "What breed or gender is this?" forum and people will help out with guessing what you've got.
My broody used a nest box but mine are at floor level. I've also seen her make a "pocket" in the wood shavings on the floor and stay there when the chicks got a little bigger.

On day 3 mama led them down the ramp and into the run. She kept all the others from messing with her babies. 1st night mama went in the coop and called for them but I had to put them near the top of the ramp. 2nd night all but 1chick made it up and 3rd night they all had it down.

My run has 2x4 welded wire fence and the chicks have also been free ranging the whole time too. At first they only went a couple feet out and at 4 weeks they still stay within 6-8 feet from the run. Mama is always at the fence as close to them as she can be and they're always running in and out for warmth and comfort if they needed it.

I'm about like you with experience and this has been really interesting and lots of fun.

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