hen raising chicks questions?


8 Years
Mar 11, 2011
We are finally going to hatch some chicks!!!!
Our hen Early is going to do the job. Now how do I do this? I have never had a hen hatch before.

I know that she will sit on the eggs in the coop with the other hens, but when the chicks hatch, don’t I need to separate them from the other chickens, because of Coccsityosis?
I know that the chicks would get Coccsityiosis from the other chickens, but why don’t they get it from the mother hen?

1. How faraway do the chicks need to be from the other chickens? Our 4 chickens are free range a lot. Does that mean I cant let the babies out on the ground at all??? (Our yard is almost an acre) I want to keep the babies as close to the coop, and cages as possible.

2. Should I vaccinate them for Coccsityosis? And or anything else? How do I do this and where do I buy the stuff?

3. How old do the chicks have to be to meet the other chickens?

4. Do the chicks need their own water with marbles? If so, how old till they use the water without them, and would the mother hen use it to?

5. We have two dog runs that we use for our chickens. They are about ten feet apart
with a coop in between them. One we don’t use very often, could we keep the chicks and Early in there, or is that too close to the other chickens?

Is their anything else I need to know?
(PS. How old are roosters when they first learn to crow?)

Thank you all so very much
for the question about the distance of the babies from the adults, personaly i would put them in the middle coop so that the adults will be able to see the chicks so when you have to combine them latter the transition will be easier.

also, if your hen is a good broody, i would seperate her imediatly from the other chickens and put her in the middle coop with the eggs so that the others won't lay eggs with her in there, that could lead to you not knowing which eggs are her's and which eggs aren't supposed to be there.

another thing, the mom will be more protective of the chicks when they are younger so you may want to put up something between the babies and the adults till they are about two weeks old or so. after that the mom won't be over protective and hurt the babies while trying to protect them.

because you have so much land the chicks should by fine out with the adults the thing is that while they are very young i would pay close attention to when the babies first interact with the adults. but the mom will attach any of the adults that dare come closer than what she feels is safe. after the learn their lesson the adults will stay away.

i hope this helps! chicks are adorable and i did it nature's way too
have fun! oh and i'm sorry i don't know anything about coccsityosis so i hope someone will comment about that

the marbles in the chick waterer are so that the chicks don't drown. because the chicks are coming from a watery world into a dry one they may feel weird and try to go into the water, but that wears of after the first week so then it will be safe to take the marbles out. the mom will drink from the same waterer so don't worry about that
I have answered your questions based on what I do with my broody hens. I've now had 5 successful hatches of chicks, raised in the coop with their flocks. Your mileage may vary.
ETA: I mentioned successful hatches but two of my hens are raising store bought chicks. I bought each some chicks after one failed to have any hatch (human error) and the other only had one chick hatch. Both hens were delighted to get the store bought chicks.
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I just had 3 broody hens hatch out a total of ten chicks. The only thing I would add is that not all mothers are as protective as they should be. My cochin is such a sweetie that she will get upset if another hen pecks at her chicks but she will not protect them. If she snaps at you when you get near her when shes sitting on the eggs she will probably protect the chicks. Also the temperment of your flock makes a difference my big hens give the chicks a little peck now and then but some will kill chicks if they get a chance, you just have to watch at first to see how they act.
Happy hatching its almost always a wonderful experience
wonderful answers!

My Broody Buff Orp is the most wonderful mom! SHE decided when to take the chicks out, and WHO can get close to them. IT is the cutest thing to watch. and if she wasnt in charge, i wouldnt have a clue.

YEs, its a beautiful thing to watch, enjoy!
I agree that you have to be watchful. I have my first broody raising a chick right now. I separated her from the flock (she can see them through screen) while she sat on the eggs. She took the chick out into the flock at 4 days. While she was very protective, I have a couple hens that were determined to harm the chick, and it ended out with a bloody gash on it's chest. The chick survived, but now I've decided to have mama raise the chick in separate quarters. She can see the rest of the flock, but the coop and run are divided by screen.
I have other chicks indoors in the brooder (same age as this chick), and I hope to move mama hen back with the flock at 4-6 weeks, and have the chick finish growing with the other chicks before introducing them to the flock when they are big.

That having been said, it would certainly be a lot easier to have the hen integrate the chicks into the flock, so if your birds are mellow, I would encourage you to do that. Just watch at first, to see how they act.

I am feeding my chick (and mama hen) medicated chick starter, since I was worried about coccidiosis. Since the hen and chick are separate from the flock, this has been easy, although before I separated them, I put medicated feed under a plastic wicker basket with wide holes from the dollar store. The chick could go under there to eat, but the others couldn't get the the chick food.

Good luck with your broody hen! They are so fun to watch with the chicks.
A little more info on coccidiosis: it's caused a parasite that lives in the digestive tract, but it's a single-celled critter (a protozoa) instead of a worm. When a flock is exposed for the first time, many get sick and often they receive treatment. However, coccidia are really, really hard to kill: what the treatment usually does is just whack the parasite back hard enough that the host chicken is able to get the upper hand. Its immune system then builds up enough defense (antibody) against the parasite that the two reach a balance point. The chicken can't get rid of the coccidia, but the coccidia can't make the chicken sick either (unless the chicken gets sick with something else, loses its control over the coccidia, and the parasite then throws a block party).

Medicated chick starter includes anti-coccidial medications that are coccidiostats. This means that they don't kill the parasite, they just stop it from multiplying. They're a way to provide protection for chicks that are getting exposed to coccidia--because if the parasite can't breed, it probably won't get out of control. However, a word of caution: not all strains of coccidia respond to a given medication. This can be annoying.

When chicks hatch, they have some immunity that they got from their mother, via the yolk of their own egg. So if the mother was immune to coccidia when she laid the egg, the chick is also immune . . . for a while. At around two and a half to three weeks old, the chick begins losing that immunity: it's grown a lot and has reached the stage where its body needs to start creating its own immunity. This is why we sometimes hear about three-week-old chicks becoming deathly ill with coccidia: it's that critical window where they're losing their defenses. BUT--if the chick is only exposed to small numbers of coccidia, it will only get a little sick (diarrhea), continue eating, and develop its own immunity to the coccidia in turn. It's only when chicks are exposed to either a brand-new strain of coccidia unfamiliar to the one their mother knew, OR exposed to huge numbers of the "known" coccidia, that they get super sick. This is one of the arguments for raising chicks on litter, where they can get exposed to coccidia in (hopefully) low numbers. Chicks raised on wire don't get that early exposure, and their immune systems don't "learn" about coccidia.

With immunity, it's a numbers game. So long as the chick has more antibody to fight the coccidia than coccidia attacking it, it'll be fine. When the attacking coccidia outnumber the defensive antibodies, then the chick gets sick; how sick, depends on just how badly the "home team" is outnumbered. Coccidiosis can kill; it's nasty stuff when it runs unchecked. But a healthy bird can keep it under control, once it's had a chance to build immunity.
ETA: I mentioned successful hatches but two of my hens are raising store bought chicks. I bought each some chicks after one failed to have any hatch (human error) and the other only had one chick hatch. Both hens were delighted to get the store bought chicks.

Great info, thanks - I've been struggling with some of the questions on illnesses.
Thank you all so very much I will let you know how it goes!

Great anwsers !!!
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ETA: I mentioned successful hatches but two of my hens are raising store bought chicks. I bought each some chicks after one failed to have any hatch (human error) and the other only had one chick hatch. Both hens were delighted to get the store bought chicks.

Great info, thanks - I've been struggling with some of the questions on illnesses.

Can I 'piggyback' a question onto your very helpful answers? My silkie has just hatched six chicks (four eggs are still in the nest which I'll probably move under another broody who is currently sitting on infertile eggs). The first chick hatched 48+ hours ago. The hen frantically ate a bit of food this morning with four of the older chicks in tow (two hatched during the night last night). They showed very little interest in trying to eat and I'm worried about the older chicks running out of 'stored energy'. Every time I do this it's a bit of a learning experience and I always seem to lose a chick or two. I've heard it's normal for the hen's to wait 48 hours before introducing the chicks to food and water and that the absorbed egg yolk helps them get through the first day or two ..., but I'm always such a worry wart.

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