Giving chicks to broody hens - How many is too many? More than 1 hen?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Naamahbengals, Dec 16, 2013.

  1. Naamahbengals

    Naamahbengals Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2013
    Hi all. Next spring I intend on ordering several breeds of hatching eggs and incubating them. I intend to slip them under a broody hen at night after they hatch (I have silkies). But... how many chicks is too many for a hen? I have a separate small coop just for that. I *could* put more than one broody in there... but... would that work? I worry about one hen pecking at the other hen's 'allocated' chicks, etc. But I will likely (oh, who's kidding, I WILL) have more chicks hatching than a single hen can keep warm.

    So can several (likely all silkies, unless my big orpington goes broody at the same time like this year) broodies be put in their own coop, to raise chicks together? Will they be nice to each other's chicks?
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Depending upon the temperament of the individual hen there may or may not be compatible. In my experience silkies have generally been mellow tempered and willing to co-brood chicks.
  3. Naamahbengals

    Naamahbengals Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2013
    I may have to use only my silkies, then. My oprington goes broody, and I figured that she's so big she can keep more chicks warm - BUT she does think she's 'above' the silkies so I guess it wouldn't be a good idea to have her brood with them. Ah well!

    As of this spring, I will have 4 silkie adult hens... but I do want eggs from two of them, so I can't use all for brooding. I also have a bunch of silkie cross hens (other half is EE) who will be adult by spring... hmmm.

    What's the max number of chicks you'd put with each bantam broody?
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Chickens and eggs come in all different sizes. Baby chicks grow pretty fast. In warm weather, I suggest you put no more chicks under her than she can comfortably cover the number of that sized eggs. The chicks will pretty soon grow big enough that not all can fit under her but in warm weather they can handle that.

    If the weather is cooler, I’d say overnight lows below 70 Fahrenheit, I’d cut back a little. Don’t give her quite as many. It’s a bit of a moving target depending on the size of the eggs, the size of the hen, and the weather.
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've had a bantam cochin brood 8, but that was in the summer with nice temps. Otherwise I'm more comfortable giving them 6 each.

    You'll just have to keep an eye on the hens and see how they do with each other's babies. I've had my bantam cochins run the gamut on that--two literally co-brooded 6 eggs, and co-brooded the chicks until 6ish weeks. I've had two hens brood and raise babies in the same coop, each keeping their clutch separate. I also had one time when 2 hens' clutches hatched the same day and the alpha hen tried to kill one of the beta hen's chicks. Just pulled beta and her clutch out to another pen--had to makeshift something, but really didn't want a dead chick--and no more problems.
  6. Naamahbengals

    Naamahbengals Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2013
    Yes, I'm rather worried about one hen trying to kill a chick. I'm buying expensive hatching eggs so I don't want to lose one if it made it to hatch! On the other hand, I could bring up the chicks in their own area without any hens at all. Would that be the safest? I've done it for two hatches so far, of homegrown eggs. I was hoping to have hens to 'defend' the chicks when I finally introduced them to the flock.

    ...what if I were to give a broody hen more chicks than she can cover - BUT - I give them the heat lamp temps that I give chicks without a hen? Would it then not matter how many I give her... since they could do just fine in those temps without her, and she's just a 'guard dog'?

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