I really am sorry for the stress when it was supposed to be fun. (And i assumed her flockmates included silkies after seeing the cute chick pics). U have learned a lot already, & future hatches should go much more smoothly. Re hatching day, i can tell u a broody wont leave her nestbox once the chicks start to hatch. She will remain on the nest for At Least 24 hours. (Point is to never hesitate to block off the nestbox on hatching day to keep other hens away, since the broody will have no desire to leave). If all the chicks havent hatched after 36 hours or so, i physically remove a broody from nestbox so she can at least quickly poop OUTside of nestbox (because sometimes they REAlly refuse to leave unhatched eggs). The broody will also almost always grab a quick bite to eat/drink before quickly going back to her eggs & new chicks.) I dont remove mama hen if a new chick is still wet from hatching, but i have removed after 36 hours even when i see pipped eggs. My insisting the broody come out for a quick break has Never prevented a pipped chick from completing its hatch. And even if it did, the lives of my sweet broody girls are ultimately more valuable to me than an individual chick. Dont get me wrong, i value them all, just give priority to the lives of the mamas. Once a broody starts incubating, i move her to private quarters, & switch her over to chick starter/grower for higher protein. I also give her a scrambled egg every other day or so for some added nutrition. Re my setup, i have separate broody pens in the yard under the shade trees. The broody pens are Near the main coop and run, and usually remain vacant except when ocupied by broodies/chicks. The pens are completely wrapped in hardware cloth & topped with metal roofs, & have sufficient space for hens & chicks to eat, drink & dust bathe. When i have time (& weather permits), i DO let mamas & chicks out to co-mingle with the rest of flock during the day. I realize not everyone has enough room to have such a set-up, but since i do, i find it provides maximum peace of mind for me AND the broodys. I found a lot of valuable info on this forum re how to have sucessful broody hatches, and the rest i learned from trial and error & made improvements along the way. U have several good ideas yourself already, & as the next several days progress u will decide what is easiest for both YOU and your mama hen and chicks. And that is the key; to find what works best for YOU, so its awe-inspiring not stressful. Btw the chicks in pic are absolutely adorable, & your little girl is no doubt gonna fall in love with them, and probably already has! I think your "worst" experience re hatching chicks is already behind u, and which each future hatch, u will better know what to do to ensure things go as smooth as possible.
Yeah I do feel better about this. I now know to screen momma on the nest during the hatch, if she hasn’t already been moved. I might opt for leaving her until hatch day and then moving her after hatch. We will see. As I’ve learned you can read all you want about it but until you see how your flock responds you can’t be 100% sure you’re doing the right things. Just do the best you can. I know I did that. I also agree that harming the momma hen would be worse than losing chicks. When we started our flock in the spring we started with four Barred Rock chicks and five straight run silkies. One of the little black silkies died with in a day or so of us getting them. My girls were sad so that Friday we went and got four more d’Uccle
Straight run chicks. A week or so later, one of the white silkies started getting sick. I nursed that chick for a week doing everything I could to save it. It was the only chick we’d named at the time cause it only had four toes and was so sweet. It didn’t make it. I did everything I could. Then we had to rehome two of the remaining three silkies along with two of the d’Uccles. One of the d’Uccle roosters was the sweetest thing. He’d see me by the brooder and start trying to get to me so he could sit in my hand and get petted. I named him Gilligan, because he was my little buddy. Anyway I say all of this because it just shows that chicks can not make it even when you do everything right. So I agree that mommas safety is important. Still I want to try to do everything right. If a chick dies I’d prefer it to be nature and not my stupidity. And yes I think this will be my worst hatching experience. I’ve learned a lot. Also thanks for sharing your set up. I don’t think I can do that. I might could make a small nest plus sized brooder coop off by itself. Not sure about much of a run. I’ll figure out. This is my test run. On a different note, when moving momma should I lure her off the babies then move her to the enclosed area and follow that with the babies? I’ve read that moving a momma on the chicks could hurt the chicks.
Yes it is sadly true that some lives just cant be saved no matter how hard we try. (Also true there just arent enough homes for all the sweet boys, so glad u found a home for yours). It is also true that some chicks simply dont make it out of the egg. Some people do eggtopsies to try and find reason for a failed hatch. I understand how that can be helpful when making adjustments to an artificial incubator. With a broody hen, ive come to accept that theres not much i can do to change the end result. Opening eggs & seeing chicks that didnt make it made me sad, so now i candle unhatched eggs to make sure theres no life, but no longer open the eggs. Re moving the new family, Definitely move mama & chicks at night. In fact, anything u ever want to do when handling chickens is best done at night if at all possible. Chickens have almost zero night vision. Their defense against not being able to see is to be still and quiet. (There are exceptions to every rule of course.) With my setup i dont need to move the mama and new chicks, since they are already where they need to be. Maybe others will give u input on how they make the move. I can say that when i relocate a broody that has begun to set on eggs, i do move her first so she doesnt accidently crush the eggs during transport. Then i bring her the eggs in her new "house." I see no reason why u couldnt do the same. I.e. move broody first if u are concerned about chicks getting crushed, then bring her the chicks. She may complain a bit when u move her. (& i mean literally physically pick her up and move her.) The chicks should remain quiet when u move mama, because remaining quiet is their instinct too. And since u arent relocating them far, everyone will be quickly reunited. I hope u will soon begin to truly enjoy watching her with her chicks.
I did go out and spend some time with them just tonight. I was trying to lure momma so I could grab the eggs and candle them before removing them. After checking one looked to be at 11 days and the other looked closer to hatching. I put it back to let her sit on it a bit longer. I will not be doing an egg autopsy, don’t need to know not after the other day. I’m good. I’m gonna set up their new location tomorrow. So far I’ve been screening them in the nest at night and locking the rest out during the day. Most of my hens lay first thing so I only have a couple that have been forced to lay in the run. Lucky me they picked a divot right by the door. I’ve actually thought of making a nest extender. A screened box with a solid top that would go in front of the nest opening. Letting them have a section of the coop free from the rest. It would be easier to let them out of. Screening in the nest area will be quicker but a bit more trouble to quickly let the out. Anyway that’s tomorrow’s project. Thanks again for all your help and advice. Now my biggest question is what colors these silkie chicks are.
Thought I’d post a few pics of the little family from this morning. I’ve been letting them out a bit and monitoring the interaction when the other chickens come into the coop to see if I have any treats. Momma has gotten a lot better about protecting the babies. This weekend she flat out jumped a Barred Rock that got close to the chicks. She just went after it. I picked the poor girl up and carried her back outside so Momma would lay off her. I’m hopeful that I can get them out of the dog kennel soon and integrated into the flock.