Hatching eggs in hen house


In the Brooder
7 Years
Oct 29, 2012
I have a hen that is sitting on ten eggs in a nesting box in the hen house. The hen house is up off the ground above their run. I am worried about the babies getting out of the nesting box and falling down the steps that go to the run. Once the babies all hatch should I move them to a lower area or will the mother take care of them? Also, is it ok to leave them with the rest of the flock? I had another mother hen hatch 18 babies two months ago. She built her nest away from the coop though and we didn't find it until right before the eggs hatched. Once they hatched we moved the babies and her to a baby pool on our porch and then when they were about three weeks old the mother hen actually incorporated the babies in with the rest of the flock. All of the chickens are free range during the day and return to the hen house/run at night to roost.
There are no right or wrong answers to a lot of this. We each have our own unique situations and experiences. There are a whole lot of different things that work.

I find that the chicks are not going to fall out of the nest if you have a reasonable lip on the nest. With a fairly low lip, it is a possibility. Also the size of the nest makes a difference. They are less likely to fall out of a roomy nest compared to one that the hen totally fills.

By the time the hen brings them off the nest, they are usually pretty active. You’d be surprised at what they are capable of as far as getting around. They are living animals so no one can give you any guarantees, but the hen usually does a real good job of taking care of her chicks. I don’t know how big your coop is or how it’s laid out. It’s usually easier for her if she has some room to work with.

My set-up is different to yours. My 8’ x 12’ coop is on the ground. When a broody brings her chicks off the nest, she normally keeps them in the coop for two to four days before she takes them outside. I think part of that is that my pop door is up a bit. I’ve got pavers stacked that they can use as steps but not all newly hatched chicks can maneuver them real well. Most can but sometimes you get one that can’t handle it real well. Once she takes them outside, they spend practically all day out there. With your set-up, the hen may take them out immediately. I don’t know. But with them free ranging, she will have plenty of room to work with. Odds are they will be OK with the flock from Day 1. That’s the way I do it.

There is nothing wrong with separating the hen and chicks for a while. Lots of people do it that way. I really like the hen to take care of integration as you mentioned. Most of my broodies wean their chicks anywhere from 4 to 9 weeks of age. I had one that weaned hers at 3 weeks. They are not really consistent in when they wean them.

From what I think your set-up looks like, I think you’d be fine either way. Good luck!
It is personal preference.

I think if it were me, I would be concerned with other chickens pecking at the biddies. They can be aggressive towards the chicks. I once had two broodies insisting on sitting on the same eggs. When they hatched the one broody was really aggressive toward the chicks and I had to remove her to another nest with golf balls to keep her away. The other mother was great. The aggresive broody unfortunately broke eggs before they hatched so I only had one chick and they were in the nest box. Which I blocked access from the other chickens. I came home one day and they had breached the barrier and I could not find the lone chick. The mother was up on a roost. I am not sure what happened. The chick was two weeks old. I had a brooder coop and I should have put them inside it. Hind site.

So, look at your coop and consider it from the biddies point of view. They need to be near Momma and able to duck into her feathers at first and when they feather out, they need to be able to hide from other chickens who will establish they are low on the totem pole.

This thread might interest you.


I’ve never had a hen that aggressive toward a broody’s chicks, at least that the broody hen couldn’t handle, though you can see in that thread that Sumi has. I have had a 1 week old chick get into a pen of 8 week olds where mama could not get in to protect it. They killed it. I have had a 2 week old chick kill a hatchmate while the broody watched. Earlier this summer I had a hen go broody about three days before another broody was ready to hatch. They fought over the eggs and broke half of them. My problems don’t come from other normal adult members of the flock. They come from chicks and other broodies. Stuff happens but it often not what you expect. That's part of why I say they don't come with guarantees.

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