Hen Won't Accept chicks: what to do?

AurumGrace

In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2018
13
11
33
Dallas OR
Hello BYC

Just last night, I attempted to "swap out" 7 of my hen's eggs with 8 baby chicks. She had been broody for about 3 weeks now, and we had set up an area in the garage with everything both she and the chicks could need. Her eggs were not fertilized so we had to buy 1-day old chicks. When we put them under her, they were about 2 days old. We had made sure not to touch any of them after we had taken them out of the box, and they were kept in the garage in a different cage.

my hen (Aurum) seemed calm, and comfortable, so we waited until around 10 pm and in the darkness inserted one chick under her wing while taking out an egg. We waited for her to react, but she only sat up straighter and did nothing else. We waited a minute or two then did the same thing with the other 7 chicks, one by one. She seemed calm, a little surprised, but no pecking or freaking out. We thought perhaps she had accepted them.

We waited and waited, occasionally a chick or two would peep their head out and she would make a hissing noise and gently peck it back under her wing. Aurum would watch one occasionally, just stare at it, then do the same thing. Once, when I tried to reach in to fix a towel on the floor next to her wing, she pecked my hand (which she never does, so I though perhaps she was "protecting" her chicks.

Then around 11 pm, 2 chicks were pushed out from under her wing by another chick. Aurum stared at them for a minute or two, but then began to harshly peck it. We were forced to take the chick away from her, thinking once she calmed down we could insert it back in. Every time we tried, she would peck it fiercely. We finally got her to relax and were able to put it back under, but another one came out!

We didn't know what to do. If we turned on the heat lamp for the chicks outside her wings, Aurum would be able to see and might attack all of them, she was also panting and we didn't want to make her any hotter than she already was. if we didn't turn on the heat lamp however, the chicks might die.

Finally, after a long night of checking on her, we were forced to take the chicks away. She had not kept any of them under her wing, one by one they had all been pushed out by the other chicks and either she hadn't seen them, couldn't move for fear of pushing out the others, or simply didn't care at all.

This morning, we took Aurum out of the cage and put her outside. She seemed upset, and still slightly broody, eating little and drinking nothing. She would make broody noises and puff herself up.

I don't know what to do. Will she go back to being broody with no eggs and no broody spot? Will she break out of it and go back to normal? Is she confused now, first having chicks then no chicks? is she going to be depressed? Would it be bad to reintroduce her to the chicks, perhaps try again?

I really need advice. Apologies for the long message, I wanted to make sure every detail was answered for. Thank you very much, I value all of your opinions.
 

ChickenCanoe

Crossing the Road
9 Years
Nov 23, 2010
29,721
20,054
917
St. Louis, MO
She's probably confused.
I'd put the eggs back and let her sit on them. Try again tonight but don't remove any eggs. Just put about 3 chicks under her. Do not use a heat lamp. Wait about 20 minutes to make sure chicks aren't running around the space. Then the next night put the rest of them under her.
 

WVduckchick

🐓🦆 For the Birds! 🦆🐓
Premium member
5 Years
Feb 9, 2015
47,695
119,665
1,682
West Virginia
My Coop
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She's probably confused.
I'd put the eggs back and let her sit on them. Try again tonight but don't remove any eggs. Just put about 3 chicks under her. Do not use a heat lamp. Wait about 20 minutes to make sure chicks aren't running around the space. Then the next night put the rest of them under her.
x2 too many at one time. Spacing them out every few minutes could have worked, but I think 8 may have been a bit much.
 

Molpet

Crossing the Road
Premium member
Sep 7, 2015
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New Lenox township. Illinois USA
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you never know what a broody will do
I had one that had turkey and chicken eggs under her. some turkeys hatched 2-3 days early so she got off the nest as the chicken eggs were piped. I finished the eggs in the incubator. 2 hatched that day and the others later. next night slipped a turkey and a chick under her. all was good in the morning. Mid afternoon she was after the chick and since it was bleeding I took it back inside. she accepted the turkey poult, I guess it looked like what she had already.
 

AurumGrace

In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2018
13
11
33
Dallas OR
Thank you all for your responses. Aurum has now eaten plenty of food and drunk some water. She still seems slightly broody, but it is lessening. We introduced a chick to her (holding it at a safe distance just in case) while I held Aurum, and she stared at it and made strange noises. She didn't have any violent reactions.

Do you think it would be bad to introduce her to the batch? and how would we go about it? We were thinking of doing it outside in the sun, maybe hold a few chicks and see what she thinks. Would she still accept them, is that possible?
 

ChickenCanoe

Crossing the Road
9 Years
Nov 23, 2010
29,721
20,054
917
St. Louis, MO
Since she once had a desire to raise a family, she may adopt them. The only way to know is try. Perhaps if you put them all together in an ex pen it may work.
I once had broody hen adopt 26 chicks of various ages. I just put them all together in a coop space of about 24 sq. ft..
I even had a lone cockerel that was about 10 weeks old adopt several 1 week old chicks.
 

AurumGrace

In the Brooder
Jun 12, 2018
13
11
33
Dallas OR
I introduced her to a couple of them, to which she promptly responded by pecking one on the head. The chick is okay, but I think I will have to raise them on our own, seeing as she refuses to accept them. Thank you all for your time and your responses, I really do appreciate it and wish it had worked out :(
 
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