Giving a broody hen MORE chicks?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Eric R, May 25, 2019.

  1. Eric R

    Eric R Songster

    Jul 12, 2017
    I have a hen that is broody but only 2 of her eggs were winners. She's already more than a week in. I am trying to time the hatch to give her more chicks when these hatch but not exactly sure when the hatch date is. If she takes the chicks out after hatching can I still give her more chicks that night? Will she know that the new chicks weren't there before and are consider them a threat?
  2. Squishychicken

    Squishychicken Songster

    Oct 13, 2017
    North carolina
    Depends on the hen some will take the babies some wont and I would suggest joining when you can supervise though not at night. If she dosent except them you'll hve to take them away and brood those ones separate. But it's worth a try.

    Did you not write down there hatch or start date?
    Eric R likes this.
  3. orrpeople

    orrpeople Grading essays - be back soon!

    Jun 15, 2016
    State of Jefferson
    I slip chicks under my broodies quite often - at night is best. The reason for this is that they have an entire night of snuggling before they have to do a day together.
    A word of caution though: the older the chick, the less likely the attachment. Also, incubator hatched chicks haven't had the mamma talking to them throughout the process and may take a little longer to "bond". If she already has babies, she may not work very hard to attach to the new ones.
    Eric R likes this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You are specifically talking about adding more chicks after she has hatched some. I've done that a few different ways. Often I put a few eggs in the incubator when I start some under a broody. I've had things happen, like a snake once ate the eggs under a broody. This way she is assured of some chicks. You do need really young chicks, the younger the better. It's not just the broody. If the chicks don't imprint on the hen it might not work.

    If you can tell when the hatch has started, usually hearing peeping, you can put the new chicks under the hen at night before her hatch is over. Even if she does not hatch any this is a good way to give her chicks. This is where you really need young chicks though. When they hatch they absorb the yolk. They can live off of that yolk for over three days. But on the third of fourth day they need to eat or drink. You don't want the hen to be in the position of deciding to abandon her unhatched eggs because she needs to go find food and water for the already hatched chicks.

    Another way I've done it is to catch all her chicks after she brings them off the nest and put them in a box with the new chicks. You may want to lock the broody hen up when you do this, they can get pretty vicious protecting their chicks. Then I dumped all the chicks near her. She took them all. I don't think I even needed to put them in the box, that hen would have probably accepted them if I just set the new chicks down near her. I've done that too, just put the new chicks on the ground near her in the middle of the day.

    Now a couple of warnings. Baby chicks like to crawl up under Mama's wings and just under her feathers. I once killed a chick by crushing it when I picked up a broody hen. Trust me, that is not a good feeling. So if you pick her up be careful.

    One time I had a hen that only hatched some red chicks and the chicks in the incubator were a bit late. So she bonded with her chicks. A couple of incubator chicks were black. She accepted the red incubator chicks but rejected the black ones. She did not try to kill them, but pecked them to run them away. So I had to raise them myself. This same broody had hatched and raised a brood earlier in the year, some of those chicks were black. She just bonded with the red ones that time. So try to get new chicks that resemble the ones she will hatch.

    What you are talking about is absolutely doable. I do it all the time though I have a good handle in when hatch date should be. But anytime you deal with living animals you don't get guarantees. Anything can happen so observe and be prepared. Good luck!
    Eric R and orrpeople like this.
  5. Eric R

    Eric R Songster

    Jul 12, 2017
    Well I guess there's only one way to find out. Thanks for the tips everyone. I'm expecting a hatch Thursday after next and it just so happens my feed store gets day old chicks every Thursday so the stars are aligning so to speak. I may just get her some either way and slip them in at night. I have another hen right now with adopted chicks so why not try it again. I'll post an update once I try it.

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