HELP! NEED ADVICE BEFORE CHICKS HATCH..

gertiesmom

Songster
Mar 24, 2015
97
34
106
Hello all!
I put this in another forum, but I thought this one may provide more help.
I'm still new at a lot of things and I have some very important questions before my chicks hatch...providing nothing goes wrong. I have 3 silkie hens, 2 of which were broody (the one hen was broody for 2 months and sitting on nothing). Well somebody started laying eggs and my broody girls were so happy they finally had eggs to sit on! I let them keep 3 each and so far 3 of the 6 have movement, 2 have veins and number 6 was just laid on the 8th so I couldn't tell anything yet...I candled them last night! So, I marked all the eggs in pencil with the dates they were laid, the girls are doing a great job and I've seen progress when I candled them. Now come the questions...
1. Do I just leave the girls in the coop/ run with the other hen and rooster and wait for the eggs to hatch? Will the rooster go after the chicks and hurt them?
Or
Do I give all 6 eggs to the one hen and move her into a dog crate with a nest box? I thought about doing that with all the internet reading I've done, but the girls are all very close and I think moving her and the eggs would cause to much stress.
2. If I just leave the hens where they are and wait for the chicks to hatch, first one due 5/22, can everyone be put on chick starter? Should I get the medicated or non medicated feed? Can I still put out fruits and lettuce for the adult birds with chicks running around?
3. I just noticed tonight that the rooster is mounting the girls in the coop while they're on their eggs. He's young and full of testosterone but is it safe for the hens and chicks? I noticed a bald spot on the back of my one girls head today and couldn't figure out why she had it. Now I know he grabs right at the back of her head. I just hope he doesn't hit that soft appt that silkies have on their heads!!

Well those are my biggest questions/worries right now. I may be over worrying but I want to make sure I do everything right for my little flock! I think my landlord thinks I'm crazy to worry cause when I first moved in they had chickens laying/hatching eggs all over the property and just let nature take it's course. Please tell me if I'm crazy! Thanks in advance for any info y'all can provide!!
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lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
26,991
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
Generally, when allowing a broody to hatch eggs, all the eggs are given to her at once. Because if there are later eggs, she's going to abandon them in order to meet the feed needs of the early chicks. Also, a lot of folks with broody hens wait to be sure she's broody, then they move her to a private nest (to keep her from being molested by the other birds and to keep other birds from adding eggs to her started clutch.) Then, after she's settled, they give her the eggs they want her to hatch. That last egg is likely to be abandoned when the early ones hatch. Don't allow any more eggs to be added to the broody nests.

There's more risk of chicks being molested by the other hens than there is of the rooster molesting them. Some folks keep the chicks and broody away from the rest of the flock for the duration of the time the broody cares for her chicks. Others let the broody and chicks run with the rest of the flock as soon as they leave the hatching nest. Her "mean broody mama hen "don't mess with me or my babies" hormones are at their highest shortly after the eggs hatch, and that's the best time to let her and babies integrate with the flock. She'll seriously kick the butt of any creature that dares to mess with her babies if she's a good mama.

IMO, you should let each broody have a few chicks. I doubt that one of them will suddenly get over being broody if you take her eggs or chicks and give them to her sister. (But, I could be wrong here!)

My biggest concern here is that your rooster is continuing to mount the broodies while they are sitting on the nest. I'd be moving him out of the situation, or moving the broodies to their own space. He's apt to trample some eggs in his exuberance, not to mention that you've indicated that he's already causing injury to their backs. Good boys don't molest a hen on the nest.

Regarding feed once the chicks hatch: My inclination would be to put the entire flock on chick starter (un-medicated) and if that's not available, then I'd use multi-flock starter/grower, and offer free choice oyster shell to the adults. An other issue: Be sure there are no open containers of water around when those babies hatch. They can find lots of ways to commit suicide. Drowning is one of their favorites.
 

scflock

Crowing
5 Years
Jan 13, 2015
14,366
2,285
368
Upstate South Carolina
Just my experience with my silkies, I can't promise it will be like this for you, but every one of my broodies hatches in the pen. I never have any trouble at all, the hens actually seem to share babysitting duties. I just had my fourth clutch of the year hatch, and they are all one big happy family
 

gertiesmom

Songster
Mar 24, 2015
97
34
106
Thank you lazy gardener and scflock!!! Wow so much info that I was looking for from both of you! I haven't let either of the girls have any more eggs since # 6 was laid. When I kick them out of the coop so they'll eat, drink, dust bathe etc...if there are any new eggs (usually only 1) I remove it. I also clean out any poop and check the eggs. All the eggs were laid from the 1st to the 8th...they missed a laying day and I took one egg cause I thought I was only gonna leave them 5. I'm gonna candle them again at the end of the week to see of # 6 is fertile. Both girls are being very good mommies so far and sticking to their eggs, except Gertie sometimes steals an egg to her nest so she's sitting on 4! :)
All their nests are on the floor of the coop and they keep them very neat and clean...although #2 egg has some dried poop on it. So I just leave the poop on or should I clean it off?
 

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