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How to give broody hen some chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by schmije, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. schmije

    schmije Songster

    Aug 25, 2008
    Peoria, IL
    We have a BO hen who just turned a year old, and she is broody for the second time. She's been this way for about 3 weeks now. We just ordered 25 chicks, and we're considering giving her a few to raise if she's still brooding when we get them. I have a few questions about doing this:

    1. The chicks aren't due to arrive for another 3 weeks. I gave her two golf balls to 'sit' on in the hopes that it encourages her to hold out till chicks arrive. Does anybody have any experience with this? Is this a good idea?

    2. Our nest boxes (where she's hanging out) sit about 18" off the floor. I am concerned that a chick could jump/fall out of the box and not be able to get back in. Should we make her a place on the floor to keep her chicks?

    3. Do we need to do anything to protect the chicks from the rest of the flock, or will she take care of protecting them herself?

    4. What is a good number of chicks to give her? We thought that 3 would be enough to keep her busy, but not be too many.


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  3. havi

    havi [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG] Si

    Mar 23, 2008
    Waco, Texas
    Im glad someone posted this. Im trying to figure out how to give the chicks to my broody hen as well. I have (6) day old chicks ready and 6 that should be hatching tomorrow. Whats the best way to 'put them under her'?
  4. Picco

    Picco Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    1. I have fostered chicks with broodies before, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, it all depends on the hen. I always put the chicks under her early at night so the chicks spend the whole night under her and they wake up together as if the whole process happened naturally. Also make sure the chicks are day olds, if they they are much older than 2 or 3 days they won't imprint on the hen.

    2. A broody hen that will have chicks needs to be separated from the flock. Your flock will kill the chicks at the first chance. try moving your hen to another nest on the ground and in a cage or room separate from all other animals. If you move her at night and the new nest is in a dark secluded space she should stick to it.

    3. Chickens are vicious creatures at times and will kill any chicks that are not their own. You need to have the hen and her brood separated until the chicks are about a month old and are agile and able to follow the mother and escape danger.

    4. The number you put under her really doesn't matter but f all of a sudden she has 10 chicks under her she might freak out a little. I have fostered up to six and it worked out nicely, 3 or four would probably work out better since she is inexperienced. If she accepts the initial few chicks you might be able to add more, but I really wouldn't put more than 6 under her since she is a newbie.
  5. schmije

    schmije Songster

    Aug 25, 2008
    Peoria, IL
    Good advice. We intend to raise the chicks in our spare bathroom, so maybe we'll just bring Opal (Miss. Broody) inside.
  6. FarmerDenise

    FarmerDenise Songster

    Apr 21, 2007
    Sonoma County
    I don't like to extend the brood time past the three weeks, because it stresses the hen. While she is sitting on the eggs, she doesn't eat regularly and looses weight. Taking care of little chicks is hard work and mom still doesn't get to eat well, since she puts all her efforts into her chicks.
    For about the first 24 hours the chicks stay real close to mom, but there is often one adventurous one that gets out. You would need a very shallow nest on the ground. I have put "stepping" stones outside the nest box for the chicks to jump up on to get into the nest box.
    You might want to have a separate cage ready, in case any of your other chickens decide they don't like the chicks. That way you'll be able to remove mom and babies to a safe place at a moments notice. I have successfully kept mom and babies with the flock; and some of the other hens as well as my rooster have helped raise the chicks. I have had two hens share the whole business, from incubating the eggs to raising the chicks.
    I have had as many as 12 chicks with one hen. She did seem a little overwhelmed at times though. She was a silkie hen raising standard chicks. I think 6 is a good number.

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