First Time Hen hatching clutch - questions

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by schnooks67, May 3, 2016.

  1. schnooks67

    schnooks67 Hatching

    Jun 19, 2014

    I have a flock of free range chickens. I've been raising chicks purchased at feed stores over the past 3 years but now I finally have a broody hen! She has been sitting on eggs for 10 days now. When she started to go broody I let her have 1 of my two coops to herself. The rest of my flock (although initially upset) are all in the other coop at night. The coop floor my BH is in, is sand and the nesting boxes are about 18 to 24 inches off the bottom. What do I need to do for the babies when they arrive? Do I just need a ladder so they are able to get down from the nesting box? Should I try and build another nesting box on the coop floor? Do I need to move her? If I do need to move her how do I do that and when?

    Currently the coop is shut and I have food and water for her. I go in and clean out and make sure she is taking her break. Once the chicks arrive should I wait for a period of time before I open the coop up? I"m worried the other hens will want to get back into their "favorite nesting box".

    Any help/advice is appreciated!!

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I’ve seen a hen get her chicks down from a ten feet high hay loft. She said jump and they did, bounced up and ran to her. I’ve had hens hatch in nests higher than yours and they had no trouble getting down. Baby chicks would not have a clue how to use a ladder or ramp. Don’t overthink it, leave it to Mama. She can handle it. I very strongly suggest you don’t try to move her or fool with her. She’s happy incubating where she is. The more you interfere from this point the more likely you are to do harm. You will not help anything.

    When the chicks hatch the hen will bring them off the nest herself. You do not need to help her. That might be within 24 hours of the first one hatching, it might be three days later or even four. Since the chicks absorb the yolk before hatch they can go a long time without food and water. The chicks and hen talk to each other, starting before they hatch. After internal pip but before external pip they will peep to let the hen know they are coming so she doesn’t leave the nest too soon. If the early ones get hungry or thirsty, they will tell Mama. The broody hen understands what they are saying much better than I do. I leave those decisions up to her.

    What normally happens when mine bring the chicks off the nest, the hen keeps them in the coop for a day or two. So you need food and water where the chicks can get to it once she brings them off. I just leave the pop door open and leave everything up to Mama but many people like to keep the hen and chicks isolated a day or two until the chicks are eating and are more mobile. In your case I suggest you leave them locked in that coop for two or maybe three days before you open the door. Mama will probably take them outside pretty soon after you open it up and pretty much keep them outside during the day from then on.

    At night she will almost certainly bring them back into that coop and have them sleep on the floor. If the other hens want to go in that coop to lay eggs or roost at night, fine. That will not present any problems, though by then I think they will be laying and roosting elsewhere.

    It sounds like you are doing great. Good luck on the hatch!
  3. schnooks67

    schnooks67 Hatching

    Jun 19, 2014
    Thank you so much that was very helpful! I'll just let her do her thing :)
  4. Anuthatch

    Anuthatch In the Brooder

    Apr 17, 2014
    Saratoga County, NY
    Yes, thank you. I have my first free range broody hen in my coop and I’m making some decisions on what to do with her there. This is helpful information.

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