Hatching chics 'au natural' with a momma hen

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Sue Hawley, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Sue Hawley

    Sue Hawley Hatching

    Jul 8, 2008
    My hen is sitting on 6 eggs and they are ready to hatch any day now.... can she do it on her own?

    Can I leave the chicklets with her?

    Will the rooster give the babies a hard time? Are roosters good fathers?

    I am a worried new chicken mom.
  2. chickens4jojo

    chickens4jojo Songster

    May 26, 2008
    Upstate South Carolina
    Best wishes on a great hatch! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I have never been able to get any of my broody hens to stay on any eggs long enough to hatch them so I don't have any real advice other than I bet she will hatch them better than I do in my incubator!! [​IMG]
  3. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    My first thought was that your hen was naked... [​IMG]

    Just kiddin -
    Many folks will isolate the momma hen and the new babies, but most mommas are pretty good at protecting their babies too.

    Just be sure the nest box is close to the ground so the chicks can get in and out, and that they have food and water readily available where they can reach it. Keep an eye out to make sure no body is picking on the chicks, and/or that the momma is not leaving them unprotected.

    good luck with your hatch!
  4. finewhether

    finewhether Hatching

    May 10, 2008
    I have had two broody hens hatch out chicks ( 4 in the first batch out of 5 and 7 out of 10 in the second). This is my first year at raising chickens and I can say that having the hen hatch and raise is by far the easiest for me . I bought my original chicks last April and raised them in the brooder, and this last may, I got hatching eggs (ebay) and incubated them (did not turn out so well). With all the worrying about "are they warm enough? Do they have clean water? Why is that chick acting like that?[​IMG]" I have found it tremendously easier ( and the hen more capable) having the hen do it. I do keep them seperated from the rest of the flock. Didn't put the first hatch in with the main flock until they were2 months (A girl can learn alot, just hanging out in the back reading BYC posts)[​IMG].Oh and I have Buff Orps, they seem to make great mommas. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2008
  5. lauralou

    lauralou Songster

    Dec 10, 2007
    Central Virginia
    I have hatched two broods of chicks under hens. I must agree that this is easier by far than raising them inside by myself. The chicks weren't as friendly as my hand raised chicks, but they came around later, once they figured out that I was the bringer of treats!

    Both times, the hens had the chicks out among the other chickens within a few days. Everything was fine for us. The other hens were curious about the chicks, but they never tried to hurt them. The rooster was a jerk, stomping his feet at the babies, but again, he didn't actually try to hurt them.

    I have heard horror stories about the other chickens killing new babies, though, so I watched mine closely at first, to make sure that didn't happen. My chickens are pretty laid back, and they have lots of room to roam, so I don't worry about that anymore.

    In short, it depends on a lot of things. You'll never know how good of a momma your hen will be until you let her try. You won't know how nice your chickens will be to the babies, so keep a close eye on them at first. And be prepared in case things don't work out well. If the other chickens are misbehaving, you'll need to separate momma and babies, and if momma isn't doing such a great job, you'll need to bring the babies inside and raise them yourself. If you have already thought about what you would do in those situations, it will cut down on your stress should things go awry.

    Good luck with your hatch, and good luck with your new chicks, no matter which route you choose!
  6. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    Oct 13, 2007
    Awww momma hens are so cute!

    I enclosed my broody in her nest box, with a little cage. I left it up till the chicks were about a week old, or just before that - then I opened them up and let them be with the flock.

    Mom did a great job keeping the babies safe, she just had to put a few hens straight and they all were left alone. My rooster never did a thing!
  7. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    I've had three hatches from three different hens within the last two months. No problems.
  8. jakmallex

    jakmallex Songster

    Mar 19, 2008
    I kept the chicks and the mom in a dog crate for the first week and a half letting them out only when I could watch them. Now they're running free in their 10x10 pen (where the parents live) with both mom and dad. The rooster wasn't sure what to think of them at first, but now he is very protective and loves watching them.
  9. Sue Hawley

    Sue Hawley Hatching

    Jul 8, 2008
    Turns out I got the due date wrong for the hatching.... not due until the 24 July. I thought that I had obtained pre-incubated eggs. The trick now is if henny-penny will sit another 2 weeks. She was sitting on her nest for awhile before with with no eggs and then with 3 golf balls that I gave her. Because I am new at chickens I didn't recognize what was going on before I took (and ate) all her eggs. Then I found a breeder who gave me 6 barred rock eggs to try. Hopefully the chickens won't notice that the babies don't look like themselves.

    It is a twisted story, has the markings for a Maury Povich show.

    Up to now hen only comes of the nest for about 20 minutes a day to eat.
    The rooster is staying alot closer now keeping an eye out? I don't know how much of a tuff guy he is... I caught the cat sleeping in the coop, right between roo and the hen last night.

    Mean while the nursery is being decorated in anticipation.

    I am learning alot by reading all the BYC stuff, thanks
  10. redkan

    redkan Songster

    May 15, 2008
    Central Maine
    I've now raised several chick families succesfully, each time trusting the mother hen to know more about what's necessary than me .... so far my hens haven't let me down. We've even had a large "batch" hatch in our hay loft and all survived the 12' drop to the floor below without any losses (we didn't know they were up there until we found a single chick about to jump). Our other hens and our roosters leave the chicks alone (a mother hen is a frightful thing to behold) and I've never segregated them beyond what the mother does. FYI, all my chickens are free-range thus have the run of the yard and barnyard.

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