Help! "Lost, presumed dead" hen returned home with 15 chicks! (Long)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Jm1420, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. Jm1420

    Jm1420 Hatching

    Aug 19, 2016
    Washington State
    I'm new to this forum and this is my first post. My granddaughter is the chicken enthusiast but she turned 18, moved out and I'm left with the chickens.

    They are pretty low maintenance. I had 4. Involved cleaning the coop and feeding. They free range all day with the door open and come home at night to roost inside their coop. No problems.

    A neighborhood kid got chickens for a school project. 2 of them roosters. They began gravitating over here to my hens. Prior to this, I had one very broody hen that I had to keep removing from the nest boxes.

    Flash ahead, to my Mother becoming ill and I had to fly across country. I was gone for 3 weeks and on my return my daughter told me "Kooka" had been missing since the day I left. After checking around with neighbor's, we assumed a predator got her. A few days after I got home, I heard a ruckus in the bushes and there she was with 15 baby chicks. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I've only bought chicks at the farm store, raised them in a brooder and never more than 4. It was chaos as we gathered all the newly hatched chicks (still wobbly and trembling) and got them all into the run (my very interested cats were watching all this from the patio).

    So! Now I've got 15 chicks with 4 grown hens. Momma is doing a great job. They all stay with her inside the run. I let the other 3 out in the morning to free range and let them back in at dusk to return. So far, everyone is tolerant of each other. Everyone goes into the coop at dusk on their own, Momma and babies on the floor, other hens on the roosts.

    I cannot and don't want to keep all these chicks. When can I place them into homes? Because I've bought all my chicks at the farm store with no Mom involved, I figured I could just place them after a week or two. Now that I'm reading some of the forum, I'm realizing it's different when there is a Mom involved. She is a good Mom, very attentive. Kind of funny.... All those weeks of trying to break her broodiness... I guess she showed me! I'm not sure how one Mom can lay and hatch 15 chicks in the span of 3 weeks. Anyway, I'm open to all advice and suggestions on what I should do from here. I'm planning to keep maybe 2 or 3 of them but the rest need to find new homes.

    Thank you!

  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I got my very first three chicks from Craig's List. Someone in my area had ordered the minimum 25 chicks from the hatchery and found out a few weeks later that they were in over their heads.

    My three chicks were around three weeks old when I got them in this manner. I would say you could advertise right now that you have baby chicks free to those who want to come pick them up. Craig's List is free, by the way. That is, as long as you're in the US. (Filling out your profile would be a nifty idea.)
  4. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    No advice to offer in addition to what's been posted, but I may be able to clear up part of the mystery for you. She didn't lay 15 eggs and hatch them all in that three week span. Obviously she and some of the others, either your flock, your neighbor's or both at the same time, had found a wonderful spot for a nest and were laying eggs there daily. She took full advantage of that and when she felt there were enough eggs in there to make a nice family, she parked her hiney and hatched them out. When a hen is broody, she stops laying to set the eggs she has. So accumulating eggs - makes no difference if they are hers or not - before getting serious, sitting tight that 3 weeks,and hatching them out was a perfectly natural thing for her to do.

    Oh, and of course, Welcome to BYC.
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    You have a couple options.

    You can go ahead and advertise them for sale now, as straight run littles. Straight run means they're not sexed. Mixed breed straight run chicks would be around $1.50-2 each were I live. Sell as many as you'd like, holding back a few for yourself.

    The problem with that is, what if the birds you hold back are all cockerels? That would be just my luck, personally [​IMG].

    So, you can let Momma brood them up to say 5-6 weeks. At that point, you can pretty much tell male from female. You can decide who your female keepers are and advertise the rest. At that point, I'd ask probably $5-6 each for the pullets.

    The problem with the second scenario is again the cockerels. Finding homes for 6 week old mixed breed cockerels is not an easy thing, in my area anyway. You could try advertising them and see if you have any takers in your area, you never know.

    Or, you could learn to butcher and have some nice chicken dinners in a few months.

    I'm usually a proponent of leaving the chicks with momma, but if you get folks who want them before she weans them, go ahead and thin her brood. It's not like you're taking them all, she'll still have some babies to take care of. Momma hens in the wild routinely lose chicks to predators, so they're not hugely distraught when a few chicks go missing.

    I have the best luck advertising on Craigslist. I use the Farm and Garden section and don't get spammers or creeps as a rule. A few flakes maybe, but no one really scary. You can also use FaceBook, or fliers at your local feed store, or where ever else one advertises in your area. Word of mouth works great too, put the word out at work, church, have family let folk know, etc.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Given this scenario, I'd also let Mama brood them for a bit, and choose my favorite pullets and sell off the rest. Congrats, and enjoy. Watching a Mama with babies, especially in a good flock situation, like you have is such a joy.
  7. Jm1420

    Jm1420 Hatching

    Aug 19, 2016
    Washington State
    This is all very helpful info. Thank you! I thought I'd be damaging her and the chicks in some way if I removed any. I am a city girl turned farm girl. Daughter had horses so we moved to a 5 acre property and granddaughter got chickens. I could never eat them. Our first experience was 5 chicks from the fair and 4 of them were roosters and I did put them on Craig's list and screened the homes and delivered them. Like pets! Husband thought I was crazy! Then I got 4 more that were supposed to be sexed pullets and one was a rooster. Found a good home for him too. So, I can't stew the roosters although I understand that people do! Just not for me personally.

    I felt they were all hers because they are identical to her and the Dad rooster. Same breed. My other hens are completely different. All 15 chickies are identical.

    Very good point about losing some in the wild. Hadn't thought of that.

    Thanks so much for the info. I think I will begin thinning. The homes that want them, have chicken experience and understand they're straight run, so they can deal with roosters if neccessary.

    (And I'll get to that profile tonight)

  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Oh my goodness how cute are they! And she looks so proud [​IMG].

    Sounds like you're on the right track. I think it's a good idea for momma to have a few babies left, I do hate to see a hen lose her entire clutch. I know it happens, and I probably stress about it more than they do, but still. It's a momma thing, right?
  9. Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    You have already gotten lot's of good help. So I just wanna say how neat it must be to have a broody clutch! Congratulations!

    That'll teach you to keep stealing her eggs! [​IMG]
  10. Hybridchucks

    Hybridchucks Free Ranging

    Jul 13, 2016
    My Coop
    Post picccccccccssss!!! pleazzzzzzeeeee

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