Hiding chicks under a broody hen?

gus2pp

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Aug 20, 2014
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I have a broody hen here, (mid-west USA) and cold winter fast approaches. I have heard of chicken keepers buying chicks and hiding them under a broody, and she accepts them, thinking they came from her eggs. I just saw that my local feed store is selling 2-4 week old chicks. I was wondering, if I got some two week olds, could I hide them under this mama? Would she accept them as her own, or are these babies too old for that at this point?

Thanks for your input!!
 

ChickenCanoe

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It would be worth a try. They are likely too old for them to accept her. A lot depends on how long she's been broody.
They're getting big enough that the weather shouldn't be a big problem though. I'd watch the weather and if you get a night in the 50s or 60s try it that night. Go back an hour later to make sure she's still under her. Everyone tends to hunker down in place after dark.
 

gus2pp

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Aug 20, 2014
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She (a GLW) has been broody for about a month now. One day, about four days before the hatch, when she got off her nest for her daily dust bath, another hen (an identical GLW) swooped in an finished the hatch. The only way I could tell they had swopped is the first has lost the broody weight, whereas the one who hatched the babies is quite plump. The original broody gets up and leaves the, now empty, nest and wanders, but comes back to sit for several hours at a time. And she still spends the night on the nest. I just feel bad letting her hatch another brood, being so skinny presently, so I wanted to give her some chicks for her work ha ha ha ha
 

gus2pp

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So but you think the two week olds wouldn't accept her as their mom, because they are so old? I have only ever hatched just this once, so your advice is so appreciated!!
 
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Ridgerunner

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I personally would not try it at 2 weeks old. The broody and the chicks both imprint on each other the first few days. By two weeks old they have already passed that stage. It's possible the broody would accept them but unlikely they would accept the broody's authority. You could be setting the stage for a disaster. You can try it if you wish but be ready to brood them yourself and keep a close eye on them the first couple of days especially. To teach them her authority the hen may peck them a lot if she even accepts them.

Personally I'd break her from being broody. Look at it as point forward analysis. No matter how you got there what is the best way forward from this point. I understand your wanting to reward the hen but what's in the best interest of the chicks and the hen?

I know it's hindsight but the way to reward her would have been to break the new broody and let this hen continue the hatch. I've been in this situation before and that is what I did. Unfortunately my two broodies fought over the eggs and broke about half of them. I know your situation is not ideal but I'd sure have rather been where you are.
 

Eggcessive

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I personally would not try it at 2 weeks old. The broody and the chicks both imprint on each other the first few days. By two weeks old they have already passed that stage. It's possible the broody would accept them but unlikely they would accept the broody's authority. You could be setting the stage for a disaster. You can try it if you wish but be ready to brood them yourself and keep a close eye on them the first couple of days especially. To teach them her authority the hen may peck them a lot if she even accepts them.

Personally I'd break her from being broody. Look at it as point forward analysis. No matter how you got there what is the best way forward from this point. I understand your wanting to reward the hen but what's in the best interest of the chicks and the hen?

I know it's hindsight but the way to reward her would have been to break the new broody and let this hen continue the hatch. I've been in this situation before and that is what I did. Unfortunately my two broodies fought over the eggs and broke about half of them. I know your situation is not ideal but I'd sure have rather been where you are.
X2
 

gus2pp

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5 Years
Aug 20, 2014
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The eggs hatched before I realized the hens had switched, otherwise I'd have done just as you suggested. I can certainly see the wisdom of what you're saying. I wish I had realized they switched before the eggs hatched! My girls are free range, and so other than counting them at night, I don't often get too good a look at each individual on a daily basis. This all happened in the last five days.

I was iffy about the two week olds too, so thanks for your thoughts!!
 
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ChickenCanoe

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So but you think the two week olds wouldn't accept her as their mom, because they are so old? I have only ever hatched just this once, so your advice is so appreciated!!

I've had 3 day old chicks walk away from the broody. I've also had hen bond with much older chicks. You just never know till you try.
 

gus2pp

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5 Years
Aug 20, 2014
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I've had 3 day old chicks walk away from the broody. I've also had hen bond with much older chicks. You just never know till you try.
Chickens are such stinkers sometimes! I'll figure something out. I've kept chickens for a while, this is my first time with hatching, though. It's a new experience. Thanks for you're thoughts!
 

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