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Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by TinyFlock17, Mar 29, 2018.
I hope the broody hatch goes Well!
She should be ok as long as you keep mother and baby completely separated for at least the first week (they will probably be ok staying in the nest box if you move the food and water dishes in there), and after that it's best to segregate them from the flock in a look but no touch set up until the mother weans the babies. I let my chicks and mother hens out to free range with the other chickens but do not let them mix when confined because the other hens will attack the babies.
Mama hen will be extra aggressive when with chicks and this can lead to unexpected fights with those lower than her in the pecking order.
I have actually had better luck with mama and babies reintegrating when the babies are a week old or so. (I even had a hen last year that took her babies out in the flock at 24 hours old.) Mama's hormones will still be going strong at that point and she will fiercely defend them from the other chickens. I have not had any fights break out doing it this way. If you wait until the babies are weaned, they will have a harder time integrating into the flock because mama won't be there to protect them. When they're weaned, she's done with them. I used to wait until they were older, too, until I read about others just letting the mama integrate them when they're young. It hasn't mattered where the hen is in the pecking order. When she's in Mama Hen Mode, she can be fierce. The first year I tried this, the broody was killed, leaving four 5-week old orphans. They had already become part of the flock, knew their place and had no problems continuing to live with the flock without their mama. If I had tried to integrate them at that time, it would have been far more traumatic.
So much wonderful wisdom - thank you! I think I will leave her free to go in and out as she pleases - she was setting firmly on her unfertilized clutch yesterday despite another hen being completely inside the box with her! Now I'm just hoping she doesn't quit at the 3 week mark... the eggs should arrive today and she's been like this for at least a week. I was hoping to avoid having to get an incubator - the ones I've seen are so $$$.
How often should I be checking - in case she does decide to get off? Temps here are warming up quickly, 50/60s at night and 70/80s during the day - but I don't want to miss a chance to intervene if necessary to keep the chicks alive!
Thank you again - grateful to be able to learn from those who have been doing this so well for so long!
She will likely only get off the nest once a day (although I’ve had some that will get off the nest more than once a day when it’s hot out). If you see her out and about, go check the nest in an hour or so. She’ll probably be back on it.
Argh! So the eggs were supposed to arrive over the weekend but were delayed (USPS!) - they should get here tomorrow, which honestly might be a blessing in disguise. I came home this afternoon and she has now moved to a different box - leaving all her eggs and is now setting on some other eggs! She had been in the favorite nesting box - wondering if she hopped out for a few minutes and came back to another hen on her nest so she decided to jump into a different box?
My question is, at this point, should I move her to a dog kennel (still inside the coop) and take my chances that she'll quit being broody? Or just leave her alone and check the coop constantly to make sure she hasn't moved? I'm worried she'll move again over the next 21 days and I won't catch it in time, but I also don't want her decide she's done with it all!