Hen going Broody while Incubator hatch starting

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by S5apiotrowski, Nov 27, 2015.

  1. S5apiotrowski

    S5apiotrowski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2014
    Today my incubator eggs are starting to hatch. I am not expecting a big hatch - 10 chicks max, but I suspect a couple will not make it.

    It just so happens one of my young hens (a 9 month old Giant Cochin) appears to be going broody. She's been sitting quite a bit in the nesting box, and staying there at night - but is not quite as dedicated to the nest as my last broody hen was. I know her breed is suppose to make good mothers, but I am wondering if she is just too young to be broody (she only recently started laying).

    Anyway, I am interested in seeing if she will mother the incubator chicks. The baby chicks are currently pipping, so I have left them in the incubator. The hen is in the coop in her nesting box. She is sitting on a couple of eggs (from today). my husband put up a guard on her nesting box to keep her in and the other hens out. There is a little food and water for her so she does not need to leave.

    We are expecting a couple chicks tonight. Our plan was to put a couple chicks underneath her and take away her eggs and pray for the best in the morning. Our hatch will likely complete tomorrow afternoon. I thought we would keep the incubator eggs in the incubator until hatched. If she accepts chicks tonight, we may be able to add the rest tomorrow night. If she does not take them, we could keep and raise the other chicks ourselves.

    Has anyone done this before? Any suggestions/advice? We can just raise the chicks ourselves - but if we have a potential mother, it could be a win-win for all!
  2. Bridebeliever

    Bridebeliever Chillin' With My Peeps

    Right! It could be fun...but she is young...and if she just started to get broody she might not snap out of sitting just because chicks are there. I guess you have to weight out whether it is a risk you are willing to take with a few? Hopefully others with experience in this will comment!
  3. S5apiotrowski

    S5apiotrowski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2014
    The chicks were slower than normal breaking through shells last night - so didn't try the grafting. My husband did put one "pipped" egg under the broody - but she left the nest and the protective screen prevented her from getting back in (so she started with another nesting box).

    She is very young, but has been sitting a LOT over the last 10 days. I have a few chicks now, but it is the morning. I've read that young broody hens will more likely accept day old chicks than pipping eggs (not sure how true this is).

    I thought it would be best to sneak in a chick at nighttime - but if I did it during the day I could keep an eye on it/rescue it...

    This is what I am currently working with - anyone else with experience?
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You said she has been broody about ten days. That should be enough. Chickens can’t count days but it is hormone driven. Different hens have different hormones or reactions to them. They don’t all react the same. I’ve done different things in the past. The same thing might work one time but not the next.

    I once had some eggs under a broody but also had some eggs started the same time in an incubator, intending to give her all the chicks once they hatched. For some reason the eggs under the broody hatched a couple of days earlier than the incubator, on Day 19 instead of Day 21. Only red ones hatched under the broody while both red and black hatched in the incubator. During that two day differential the hen bonded with her red chicks. I gave her the incubator chicks at night, she accepted the red but rejected the black. This hen had already raised a brood of red and black chicks earlier in the year. I did not expect that but had to brood those black chicks myself. I don’t know what color your chicks might be but you might bear that in mind. I no longer split eggs that way. Either the broody hatches all of them or I hatch all of them in the incubator.

    My normal method is to put all of the chicks under her at night after it is well dark, then check on them early the next morning. Other than that one time with the black ones, I’ve never had a hen attack any of them. Mine have always accepted them but some people have had them reject the chicks.

    The chicks can go a long time without food and water since they absorb the yolk before hatch, at least three days and often quite a bit longer. The last time I did this the first chick hatched in the incubator on a Monday morning. That hatch drug out a bit so it was Tuesday night before I could give the chicks to the broody. It was Friday morning before she brought them off the nest to get them food and water. All the chicks were fine but I’ll admit I was starting to get nervous.

    This one is a bit complicated. All were hatched in an incubator. On a different hatch I put four chicks under a broody at night; red, black, and yellow to see if the hen would accept them. She did. I moved the hen to another isolated coop and put her four chicks plus another ten in a box and dumped them in front of her. She accepted them all. But I had a chick that was shrink-wrapped still in the incubator so I helped that chick hatch and left it in the incubator to dry off. I rinsed the chick off but it still had down plastered down after it dried, but it could move. I put it on the ground near that broody and she accepted it. It took about a week for that gunk on the down to clean itself up but she raised all fifteen chicks. I think that hen would have accepted any chick but some hens will not accept a chick they have not bonded with or that is different. With living animals you just don’t get guarantees.

    I’ve had pullets less than nine months old hatch and raise chicks without a problem. I know some people will warn you that you can have problems, and they are right, but I’ve had problems with older hens that are proven mothers. With living animals you just don’t get guarantees one way or the other. If I were you I’d try it with no hesitation, but I would watch and see if I needed to brood them myself.

    Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  5. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 11, 2011
    Take one or two out in the daylight and see what happens. I pop 'bator chicks under my broodies in broad daylight all the time without issue. They'll start clucking up a storm as soon as they hear my peeping box of chicks. One of my hens will even try to roll the babies under her like an egg when they're placed in front of her :D
    I prefer to do it during the day so I can see what's going on. The thought of waking up to dead chicks doesn't appeal to me, I'd rather be there to rescue them if things go awry.
  6. S5apiotrowski

    S5apiotrowski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2014
    Quote: Thank you so much for sharing your experiences! I did successfully graft chicks from the feed store to a broody hen with her hatch before - only for a raccoon to take the whole lot 2 days later! Our eggs/colors are all mixed, so I don't think the color will be a big issue. Our hen has been acting very broody, but has not been sitting on eggs - so she comes off the nest quite a bit. I'm hopeful she would have returned to the nest and sat on the partially pipped egg if she could get back in - but frustrated she left the nest in the first place!
  7. S5apiotrowski

    S5apiotrowski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2014
    Since we are starting early today, we did place one chick under the hen - so far, so good. The chick is happy and the hen pecks at us if we try to check up on it. --but we have not yet seen the hen and chick make eye contact. We will wait for the "eye contact" before adding more chicks. It will be a very small batch of chicks, so I am being cautious - I don't want to have a lonely chick!
  8. S5apiotrowski

    S5apiotrowski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 19, 2014
    The little chick is very content with sitting under the broody hen - the broody hen seems indifferent to the chick. The chick came out in front of the hen - and there was no real eye contact or interaction - as if the mother did not notice/see the chick (concentrating very hard sitting on nothing)...

    The broody hen did see the chick once and peck at it once - the chick moved. The chick did go back under the broody - but we are still not sure if she is truly accepting it - but its not a flat our rejection. I have 3 more chicks, so thinking about adding a second chick to the broody to keep them in pairs.

    We saw some movement in the pipped egg that was left earlier today - so it may live!

    I am trying to post some pictures of the set-up and the mom w/ chick one. Having some difficulties - but hopefully I'll get it to work!
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Any update here?

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