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Hen hatched single chick - too late to introduce another chick???

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Squirrelgirl88, Aug 5, 2013.

  1. Squirrelgirl88

    Squirrelgirl88 Chirping

    May 3, 2011
    Central Ohio
    The hen has been broody and hatched one single egg today. This was the last egg in the nest. We have day old chicks on order and will get them on Wednesday. Will that be too late to get her to "adopt" them?

  2. bluegrasslady

    bluegrasslady Chirping

    May 17, 2013
    Auburn ky
    You know I think it should be okay. I'd stick them under her at night and see how it goes in the morning.
  3. serendipityfarm

    serendipityfarm Songster

    Mar 28, 2010
    I would be ready to watch them very carefully, and have a brooder ready just in case. I had a singleton hatch under a broody mama and tried to add 2 just hatched babies a couple days later. Sadly, I thought all was going well then found one baby dead buried in the bedding. I think because her baby was up and moving around, mom was up and scratching around and the new babies just weren't mobile enough. So whether it got too cold, or whether she killed it scratching I don't know.
    This mom did however adopt two baby chicks 2 days older than her own a couple weeks later. Those babies slept in a cage under a feather duster in the coop at night and went out in a pen with her & her babies during the day. She pecked at them if they got too close, so they mostly avoided getting too near. Then one night I found all 3 nestled underneath her on the roost.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Usually once she's off the nest, you've lost your window. Sounds like you're going to be too late to me. You could always try it, but be vigilant to remove the chicks if there's a problem.
  5. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

    Mar 19, 2011
    NW Oregon
    Yes it can work, and I've heard of others adding up to a week or even later, but it depends on a lot of different factors.

    My personal experience with fostering was less than successful, but I learned a lot in the process. (I do plan to try again but do it smarter next time.)

    My Silkie hatched 3 chicks but I wanted more, so I bought 2 more day old chicks as foster chicks. I waited until night to add them. Momma Silkie accepted them without any problem, but waiting that long created yet another transition for the chicks which probably was a mistake. The store bought chicks were already tired and stressed from the packing/transport from the farm, then they had the afternoon/evening wait in a box (I put them in a box with a sweater and added a hot baked potatoe to get them used to a broody situation), and then had to deal with the third move to a new home with the broody. They both died within the next couple of days. I found each one dead underneath the Silkie, so she was caring for them. The feed store expert felt it was due to too much transition stress in day old chicks.

    I got 2 replacements (siblings of the first fosters, so 3 day olds, the same age as my hatchlings). Upon the feed store's advice I added them immediately in broad daylight. My Silkie momma took them in without hesitation. Sadly, I lost both of those chicks (one after 1 week, one after 2 weeks) due to extenuating circumstances (one got itself caught in a weird corner and died, the other simply wasn't growing well and died). They had seemed to bond well and had been following the program with the other chicks well. Note that Momma was still sitting a lot with the chicks at day 3 so it was a good addition time.

    At the one week mark, having lost the first replacement, I tried another replacement which failed, and tried once again with failure. Both of those died within 2 days of placement. I gave up at that point, tired of pulling dead chicks out from my hen.

    At one week I think I had lost my window of opportunity with the set of circumstances I had. (The February cold played a BIG factor.) Momma had accepted all chicks lovingly, however by the 1 week mark, she was up and moving around and teaching her 3 hatchlings to scratch and be chickens. However, the new replacements, who were supposed to be the same age as the 1 week old hatchlings, were less developed and were used to a heat lamp situation. They still wanted to huddle to stay warm and it was cold in February in the unheated coop (32 degrees at night; 40 to 45 day). They looked confused and overwhelmed by the whole situation. Within 2 days of purchase I lost each of those replacements, always dead in front of the hen, often buried under tossed bedding. I actually saw one replacement get caught in the hen's feathers and accidentally tossed aside as the hen was scratching as it was trying so hard to huddle underneath. I think they got flung out that way and died from trauma or cold exposure. (I had even trimmed the Silkie's leg feathers to try to prevent chicks hanging up in them.)

    BTW...the 3 hatchlings thrived in that cold weather in the unheated coop with Momma, growing leaps and bounds into healthy productive hens that layed early. (I think being hatched and brooded by a hen in natural surroundings does a lot to grow them up fast and healthy.)

    I agree I would definitely try it as you will be putting in day old with 3 day old (? if I did the math right), and in my experience that was still a good addition time, and you've got warm weather on your side. However, I would keep very close watch until you are confident the foster chicks have bonded well and are following mom and the gang. You may consider setting up a heat lamp in the broody area so they can huddle there if they get overwhelmed or confused.

    I would not necessarily wait for the cover of night after their long transport unless you think the broody won't accept them (especially if they were mail ordered and arrived to the store, then driven home from the store to your house the same day.) Try one chick to test the waters, then add the rest. Naturally broody hens often accept any new chick that comes their way. Putting them under heat lamp until night may get them used to that and confuse them when they need to go to the hen for warmth...or not (again you've got August warmth on your side unlike my February cold.)

    You may consider giving the new arrivals chick electrolytes/vitamins in water by eyedropper to load them up with nutrients and hydrate them before attempting to place them in case they don't follow the crowd at first to water and feed. (I know day old chicks have enough nutrients in their bodies for up to 3 days, but large transport stresses them and uses up more of those nutrients.)

    Good luck. Post a follow up on how it worked out. I'm interested in seeing what happens too.
    Lady of McCamley
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013

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