Haveing baby chicks

If they are fertile then you could let her raise them which chickens naturally do, or you could take them and raise them in a brooder. I would personally go with the brooder because their are abandonment risks and other risks as well with mama hens. But if you want to do it naturally just keep an eye on them and make sure they stay healthy.
Silkies I have heard are excellent mothers... I cant say from experience as my silkies are still young but they are known as one of the most broody breeds that exist.... Hope all helps...PS make sure she doesn't have too many eggs under her as silkies are a smaller breed as well.... good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I watch to see who eats first or who lags behind. another good sign is who exits hen house first? Is broody hen "aggressive when you try to left her off nest? If not, I personally would not trust her to be good mom
Another thing you could do is in between the two choices which is building a separate run/chicken tractor in order to let her raise them and not have to worry about others hurting them.... another thing I would put in the isolation cage would be an additional heat lamp just in case mama gets lazy and abandons them.....
As you can see, we all do this differently. Part of that is because a whole lot of different things work. There is not necessarily a right way with every other way wrong. It’s what works for us with our individual set-ups, circumstances, and experience levels.

The broody hen needs to be able to comfortably cover all the eggs. Hens and eggs come in different sizes. A bantam may be able to cover no more than 4 full sized eggs, while a full sized hen can cover a whole lot of bantam eggs. I feel that 12 eggs of the size the hen normally lays is a good number, but I’ve seen a hen hide a nest and hatch and raise 18 chicks, all from her own eggs. As long as she can cover the eggs and keep them all warm, she is OK. But sometimes other hens lay in the same nest with her so I like a little extra room for that flexibility.

If you haven’t done it, you should mark all the eggs you want her to hatch and check under her at the end of the day to remove any unmarked eggs. As long as you remove them daily, they are good to use. I take a sharpie and make two circles, one the long way and one the short, so I can tell at a glance which eggs belong.

There are a lot of different things you can do when they hatch. I use the method that has been used on small farms for thousands of years, stay out of Mama’s way. I find the less I interfere the better off they are. I let Mama hatch and I let Mama decide when to take them off the nest. I do make sure there is food and water at a level they can get to, but that is it.

For food, I normally use a feeder made out of a 2 gallon plastic bucket. I cut 2-1/2” holes in the side for the adults to stick their heads through and hang that. When I have chicks, I lower that to the coop floor level. By the time the chicks are two weeks old they can fly up to the bucket if I wanted to hang it again, but I keep feed at ground level for them for a few weeks, gradually raising it as they grow.

For water I use a black rubber tub inside the coop so it stays out of the sun. I put some rocks in it so the chicks can “walk on water” when they hop in and not drown. One problem with having water on the coop floor is that the chickens will scratch shavings in the water. I spread a piece of old carpet on top of the shavings to set the water on. That helps a lot. You still need to change the water out daily, dump the old and refill with fresh water. That’s important however you do it. They need fresh water. And I often have to shake that piece of carpet out to get the shavings off the top.

You are dealing with living animals. No one can give you any guarantees about how they will act. There will be risks no matter which way you try it. I’ve never had a mature dominant rooster attempt in any way to harm a chick. Most will even help Mama take care of her babies. It’s really rare for another of my hens to attempt to harm a chick. If the chick leaves Mama’s protection and gets in the personal space of another adult hen, that hen might peck the chick to remind it that it is bad chicken etiquette for the chick to mix with its betters. That chick goes running back to Mama as fast as its legs can carry it, squawking indignantly. Mama normally ignores this since that chick needs to learn how to live in the flock. But if that hen starts after the chick to reinforce that lesson, Mama simply kicks her butt. A good broody has such a bad attitude that no other hen stands a chance, regardless of size. Not all broodies are good, but most are.

I’ve never lost a chick to another adult member when Mama was raising then with the flock. I had a two week old chick kill its sibling with Mama watching, but that had nothing to do with the rest of the flock. That could have happened if they had been isolated. I had a one week old chick get into a pen of 8-week olds where Mama could not protect it. They killed that chick.

Other people have had other experiences. Remember you are dealing with living animals. I do think how much space you have has a lot to do with it. If your space is tight, it’s harder for Mama to do her job, but if space is that tight, how do you plan to integrate them later? To me that is a huge reason to let Mama raise them with the flock. She will take care of integration. They’ll still have to make their own way in the pecking order when they mature, but basic integration is taken care of.

A couple of stories. Most broodies seem to wean their chicks between 4 to 9 weeks old and let the chicks make their own way with the flock after that. The broodies normally don’t start to lay until after they wean their chicks. I had one broody that started laying 2-1/2 weeks after she hatched her chicks and totally weaned them by 3 weeks. Those chicks had to make their own way with the flock and they did.

Something I’ve seen a few times. A chick maybe 2 weeks old leaves Mama’s protection and goes to stand next to the other big girls and eat with them. Occasionally the hens ignore that chick but it normally doesn’t take long for one to peck that chick to remind it about proper chicken etiquette. The chick runs back to Mama and all is well. But a couple of times I’ve seen a hen follow the chick. Mama objects to that violently.

As I said, there is no one right way to do this where every other way is wrong. There are just the ways we do it that works for us. Good luck on figuring out what is your best approach. I really do believe the more room you have the easier this is.

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