Help with broody hen & introduced chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by bootsmith, Jan 9, 2017.

  1. bootsmith

    bootsmith Hatching

    Jan 9, 2017
    Hi All,

    I did a post with a link that needs to be checked (which I didn't realise) and I need some advice sooner rather than later.

    We have a hen that is broody, has been for a couple of weeks. We decided to take the opportunity to replenish our chicken stocks as the broody hen is out last (the other have all passed on). We bought 6 day old chicks and after much video watching and reading went out at night and switched the eggs under her for the chicks (they hatched the day we got them). She happily had them all under her and sat on them all night, however come morning she was pecking them and would not let them anywhere near her.

    We brought the chicks back inside and put the eggs back on her nest and she immediately went back and sat on the eggs. Over the course of today we have slowly placed the chicks under her and she is again happy to sit on the, but whenever they come out from under her she pecks at them, but not as roughly as she did in the morning, and won't then let them back under her. we have taken a couple of the eggs out from under her so there are 4 (of the 6) chicks under her ans 2 eggs, with 2 chicks left to go under her.

    It seems she tolerates them but doesn't 'mother' them. She's fine with them being under her but if they come out she won't let them back under. Can anyone provide any advice on what we could do? Is the pecking normal or should she not be pecking at them at all?

    Thanks in advance for the help.


  2. ChickenGoesRuff

    ChickenGoesRuff Songster

    Jan 8, 2015
    I had two hens that went broody at the same time and hatched 12 chicks together. They split mothering responsibilities and the chicks would follow them both. 3 days after the chicks hatched, I had a third hen hatch out five. I had moved her and her clutch into the broody coop, and she continued to sit on chicks. The other hens tolerated her, and even some of the older chicks would try to sit under her. However, she never led her five to the feed dish or the water fount and actually would peck at any chick that tried to get under her, including her own. The five little ones were rejected by the other 2 hens, and after their mama hen (who sat in a corner and would kick her babies from under her and bite them-drawing blood occasionally) never showed them the feed or water, I stepped in. When the chicks were a day old, I dipped their beaks in the water and showed them the food, and they ate ravenously. Their mother continued to attack them, but once they were under her, she didn't care. On day 6, 2 of the chicks had been trampled by either the hen, or by other chicks because the hen didn't protect them. The hen (named Sweetie, ironically enough) jumped out the coop door when I went to change their water and rejoined the flock. The other hens rejected the last 3 and I had to make a brooder and hand-rear them.
    While they are all fine now, I've realized that even though some hens go broody, it doesn't mean they'll make good mothers. That said, I have a silkie rooster who has adopted chicks that were a few weeks old and would "mother" them. He has raised about 5 chicks in total, usually the runty ones that get picked on....
    However, some pecking is normal, and if she still has eggs under her, she may be trying to finish hatching them and treating the chicks as intruders when they go under her. I don't know if putting some partial eggshell pieces under her might trigger a "my baby" response, but mine have always sat on the nest for about a day after they hatch, then fed and watered chicks (because chicks still have the yolk nutrients after hatch).
    I hope your hen adopts them and takes care of them, and good luck with expanding your flock!
  3. SIMZ

    SIMZ Crowing

    Apr 29, 2011
    Northwest Indiana
    Not all hens will adopt chicks. Some of mine will adopt, but one of mine killed 2 expensive chicks that I did that with - in a matter of a few minutes. They have to switch from being broody to being a mom, and your hen may not be making the switch quick enough because she knows her eggs weren't ready to hatch yet?

    In my personal experience, if I tried two times and she was pecking those chicks like that, I would forget it. She could very easily end up killing them or hurting them. Can you brood them yourself? Are the eggs your hen is on fertile?
    1 person likes this.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
  5. tanithcrane

    tanithcrane Chirping

    Dec 30, 2016
    I love reading the stories of people raising chicks
    I would love to do it , I have a female Peking who is mating at the moment
    If she made a nest and laid her eggs in it could I let her raise them herself , of course I would keep her seperate from the other and make sure that she was well protected from predators , but is it possible I know ducks do it in the wild but is it dangerous to let them raise there own chicks
    Many thanks
  6. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Crowing

    Oct 23, 2014
    Agreed. Some broody hens only understand setting and not being a mom. Some broodies will kill their newly hatched chicks because they think their space has been invaded.
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Getting broody hen to work needs to consider that both the hen and the chicks have windows where they readily imprint on each other. Just because a hen is broody does not mean the window is open. Two things on the hen side opens that window, First the hen needs to be near the end of an incubation cycle as that unlocks the window for care taking of chicks. A hen that just goes broody is not likely to accept new chicks and may even not take chicks that hatch from eggs placed under her. Second, the hen needs to hear the chicks for hours if not a couple days so she can learn their voices and go through changes that make it so she will behave properly towards chicks. That helps force the window open.

    Chicks have a window that starts a couple day before hatch and largely, but not entirely closes a couple days after hatch. During that time the chicks imprint on the broody hen they hear and siblings. The imprinting process is like the "hand-shaking" that occurs between an older computer and some device is communicates with. The link up through the "hand-shaking" only when proper stage of boot up or a given special direction to communicate.

    The imprinting process limitations can be overridden but you need to protect chicks while they are kept near broody hen for sometimes as long as a couple days.

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