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Hen Mom w/ new Chicks........What Happens Next?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by dwczerr, Aug 10, 2008.

  1. dwczerr

    dwczerr Hatching

    Apr 9, 2007
    Good Morning,

    A few questions for those of you out there that have already been through this and know what to expect:

    One of our free ranging hens laid a clucth of eggs in a nesting spot she found in our flower garden. Yesterday (8/8/08) she became a proud new Mom to 4 chicks, and I think there are still 3 or 4 unhatched eggs under her as of this morning. I just checked on them this morning and the 4 that have hatched are underneath or very close to Mom, nobody is out roaming or trying to peck at the ground. My questions are:

    How long does Mom normally continue to sit on the unhatched eggs and how soon will she begin to lead the chicks out to gather food?

    Also should I place Mom and the chicks in a safer spot, like an empty 3'x8' chicken tractor?

    Is there any reason to take the chicks from the Mom and raise them in a box w/ a heat lamp? I'd prefer not to, but I'm not sure what the norm is.

    And lastly; for free ranging birds should I put out some starter crumbles for the chicks or will the Mom start them out on bugs and such?

  2. siouxbee

    siouxbee Songster

    May 8, 2007
    Our free ranging hen sat on some eggs, but did so in the coop's nest box. She ended up hatching out 7 babies (she got off the nest after 4 were out because she'd done the nasty broody poop on it but we cleaned the remaining eggs and put htem back under her while she sat on the babies and she ended up hatching them out no problem). There were 3 eggs that had been snuck under her later in her broody period, so we popped those in an incubator and they actually hatched!

    So this is what I noticed. We moved mom and eggs in our downstairs tub. We had crumbles with a dish of oyster shells for her and water available once the first one out hit day 2. Once all the babies were at a point where they were going out from under her a little and could walk (day 2ish for the youngest) we put mom and babies all out on the lawn during the day in a chicken tractor, so they'd be protected from cats and the rest of the adult flock. I think it would be tough for her to protect all of them at once, and now we've introduced the 3 'bator babies, so she's got lots of little fuzzy butts to keep track of. I figure the tractor helps her out.

    She walks with them and points out yummy treats like bugs and clover, and if I toss in a piece of corn or watermelon or something she rips off little bits and drops it on the ground for them. Now that the original chicks are a little older (it's been a little more than 3 weeks already, tho the newbies are less than a week old) she seems interested in having a little space, so I've opened up the top of the tractor so she can get out but the chicks stay in. She forages nearby, and sometimes goes back in, but seems content to have a little space. After watching them jump on her back to play king of the mountain, er, maybe king of the hen?, I can't say I blame her ;-)

    She sits and keeps them warm and does pretty much everything else to care for them. So if she's showing signs of wanting to be with them, then let her unless it's too cold in your area for her to be able to warm them. If she's not interested in the actually chicks or if she can't keep them warm, then take them in and put them under the lamp.

    Hope that helps. Good luck! it's been so fun to watch the mom-baby interaction, since we got day-olds last year to start our flock.

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