Hatched chicks vs. Chicks from the feed store?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by thewatsonfarm, Sep 29, 2015.

  1. thewatsonfarm

    thewatsonfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've got a broody hen & we are thinking of getting her some fertilized eggs to sit on & hatch. Embrace nature, right? But when we added chicks to the flock last time, the girls were mean, mean, mean! It took months to integrate them just enough so they'd let the younger hens in the coop at night!

    My question: will the flock treat new baby chicks that Fiona hatches any nicer? Will they be accepted like family, because she sits on them? Or will new babies still be new, and a threat?

    Also, would it matter what breed eggs I get for her? And should I let her raise the new chicks outside, or bring them inside into a brooder? (We are in southern California and it's still hot as summer here.)

    Thanks in advance for your wisdom & experience! :)
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    I only hatch eggs from a mother hen - she does all the work and makes all the decisions, so you don't have to!
    From my experience, as long as the chicks are out and about with mother from a few days old (for relatively short periods and supervised) to begin with, and then left to their own devices with mum after 3 weeks or so, the flock should be more accepting. She will defend the chicks, so any pecking should not be too extreme. After 6 weeks or so, the mother decides enough is enough and roosts with the adults - the chicks join her and all is fine.

    A word of caution though - i only let my dominant hen sit - that way they have maximum protection and access to food. A less dominant hen cannot protect / ensure access to feed in the same way that a dominant hen can (only my experience - not cast in stone).

    It would not matter what eggs you put under her (my sitter is only a surrogate to other hens' eggs).

    If you provide a safe place for her to sit on the eggs (in the main coop) and then move them to a small mini-coop once they have all hatched, that should be fine. If its hot then the chicks need to be in the shade where its cooler. I built a small mini-coop from pvc tubing and chicken wire which is portable so i can put the mother and chicks outside during the day, and back in the main coop at night (a shed in my case). I can then simply open the door to the mini-coop and they can come and go as they please (the mother hen takes the chicks to bed a little before the mature chickens, so there's never a problem in the coop). If you view my profile i hope that you will be able to see the photos i have uploaded in the past. I also have another "not so" mini-coop that is portable to which i attach a small run. The run has not chicken wire on the bottom, so the chicks can dust bathe etc (i use this one from around a week to 3-4 weeks old).

    Hope this helps
    CT
     
  3. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    If you do decide to have your broody hatch, you're in for a wonderful experience! But I can understand your concerns about integrating the chicks and Mom with the flock.

    I would advise you to set up something for her ahead of time, so when she is finally sitting on eggs she is protected from the rest of the flock but they can still see each other. For some reason other hens seem to want to crowd in on a broody when she's sitting on eggs in a nest in the coop, with the result either being more eggs being laid along with the ones you've chosen or broken eggs from the jostling that goes on when two hens are maneuvering in the same small space. There's also the added risk of the others bothering her so much she just gives up.

    This is what I set up for Agatha the first time she went broody, and it worked very well. It's just a large dog crate that had a door on the side and another door on the front. I opened the front door and wedged it up against her nest. Instant broody pen. As you can see, she was very comfortable and the other girls, while curious, couldn't get in to lay additional eggs or harass her. That's Daphne looking in.

    [​IMG]

    At first I set up this pen for brooding shipped chicks outside. Again, the girls could see in and they could see out, but they were safe. By 4 weeks the chicks were integrated with the adults, with very few problems.
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    Right after they were "evicted", Agatha went broody again. This time we picked up her nest, put a dummy egg in it, and moved her into that same pen. For the first couple of days we put landscape fabric around the sides of the pen until we were sure she was settled and going to stick to the nest. Then it was removed so she was confined but not totally isolated.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    This was just an old dog x-pen that I had from my dog showing days years ago, but it was perfect for what we needed. From now on any broody we have will use it just as Agatha did. But you are far less likely to have the older chickens killing or bullying the younger ones if they can see them and the chicks and Mom just become another part of their environment. The bonus is because it's pretty big, the chicks have a chance to get a little bigger and stronger before they become part of the flock.

    Good luck!
     
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  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I had a non dominant hen hatch out some chicks, mama got in some fights (that I had to break up) over food with the higher hens,
    but the chicks were never targeted and she protected and integrated them no problem.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    Having a broody momma makes all the difference in bringing chicks into a flock. I prefer to have momma brood and hatch in the main coop, so the chicks are there from day one. If you choose to separate her while brooding, get her back in the flock asap after the babies hatch. Her hormones will be enough to keep other hens away from her babies while they're little. The mature hens will still give a peck or two to the littles, as a way of educating them to being good flock members, but it doesn't go beyond that as a rule.

    Something to keep in mind, though, when hatching....half those chicks will be male. You'll need a plan in place to deal with the cockerels as they mature.
     
  6. rockriver

    rockriver Out Of The Brooder

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    They make good dinners
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You’re getting a bit of conflicting advice, more by the time I’m finished, which is perfectly normal. We each have our own experiences, goals, management techniques, flock make-up, and set-ups, we are so unique that different things work for different ones of us. It makes it a bit more challenging from your perspective.

    I never worry about the social rank of a hen that goes broody. I don’t have enough broodies most years to be able to let that be a concern. From what I’ve seen it doesn’t make any difference, but I’ve been wrong before.

    I’ll have two and usually three broody hens a year raise chicks with the flock, normally letting them hatch eggs with the flock and always letting her raise the chicks with the flock. When I have a snake eating eggs (which I’ve had a couple of times) I hatch eggs in the incubator and give her the chicks to raise. I’ve never lost a chick to another adult flock member, whether brooder raised or broody raised.

    One of the big criteria to me is how much room you have. With the problems you had integrating I question how much room you have, in your coop especially. I have lots of room, in the coop and outside. Momma has plenty of room to work and she does really well. If space is tight, it’s harder. If you don’t have enough room for a broody hen to raise chicks with the flock, you probably don’t have enough room to integrate easily either.

    I have never had a dominant rooster threaten a chick but I introduce the hen and chicks to the flock immediately. The rooster sees them as his offspring and part of the flock he needs to protect. If you wait to introduce them until he sees them as rivals or form another rooster, he is less likely to be protective. How you manage them makes a difference.

    I hardly ever have another adult hen threaten the chicks. When they do it’s usually a case that the chick has left Momma’s protection and invaded the private space of the hen. She’s likely to peck the chick to send it back to Momma. Momma generally ignores this. But if that hen follows the chick or somehow threatens it, Momma politely whips butt. Some hens are more aggressive toward chicks than others, but I hardly ever see a hen go out of her way to bother a chick. Others that I trust on this forum have had different experiences.

    Some hens are more protective than others. I’ve had broodies that keep their chick close to them and attack any chicken that approaches. I’ve had hens that let their chicks roam a lot and mingle with the other adults, usually without any drama.


    If you bring them inside and raise them in a brooder you are going to have to integrate them later, just like you did with the others. If a broody hen raises them with the flock, she takes care of integration for you. That part you don’t have to worry about. But she does not take care of the pecking order. Immature chickens are lower in rank that mature chickens. They generally form a separate sub-flock for most of the time after Momma weans them. The more mature flock members will often peck an inferior to remind it who is in charge, so the chicks avoid them as much as possible until they become mature enough to force their way into the pecking order. With my pullets that’s usually when they start to lay. With cockerels, well adolescent males are worth a book of their own.

    A broody hen will hatch and raise ducks, turkeys, peacocks, and any other hen’s chicken eggs. Breed does not matter. Get eggs form a breed you want. The hen does not care.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    And that's exactly what I do with mine, but not everyone is so inclined.
     
  9. rockriver

    rockriver Out Of The Brooder

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    Its the only way roosters just arnt wanted that much
     
  10. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

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    @donrae and @Ridgerunner touched on something I should have made clearer and failed to do.....I separated Agatha only because the first time we let her brood the other girls wouldn't stay out of the nest she'd chosen and we ended up with a couple of cracked eggs in the tussle, not to mention an infertile extra egg or two that wasn't marked. Since she's such a nasty biddy when she's brooding (we call her Atilla the Hen) it was easier on us not to have to move her to get out eggs that weren't hers. But when Scout was 2 days old the door was opened to the coop so he was out among the others, being adorable and she took phenomonal care of him, protecting him from the other girls - and us - at all costs. I think that the couple of days of letting my pushy hens see him helped when he was out with them - he wasn't such a novelty to them.

    [​IMG]
    Out with the flock 2 days after hatching.

    So the second time, since we still had the same flock dynamic, we just repeated the process in the same pen we'd raised our other batches of chicks in. It was already up, handy, and big enough to handle what we hoped would be a large family. We were planning to turn Aggie and her chicks loose as soon as they were all steady, eating and drinking, and we knew that remaining eggs were not going to hatch. But we ended up not having any hatch, so we just opened the pen back up and after a few hours of fussing and searching she went back to being Agatha the Hen instead of Agatha the Hun.

    I certainly didn't mean to imply that I kept her and her Littles separated from the flock until they were a few weeks old. Perhaps "integration" was the wrong word and "introduction" would have been better. My apologies if I've thown more confusing information into what can be a confusing topic.
     
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