How to house a broody hen with chicks

Redhead Rae

Chickens, chickens everywhere!
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Jan 4, 2017
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Braxton County, WV
My broody Dominique/Buff Orpington cross hatched out 7 chicks yesterday. There were 8 eggs, but I candled the remaining egg and it looks like it stopped developing mid-way. We put her in a rubbermaid tote with wood chips, water bottle, feed, and made her a nest out of a box and some straw. We covered the top of the brooding box with a hardware cloth screen. It worked very well while she was sitting on the eggs. We had the box sitting on our very deep front porch. At night we would put heavy bags on top of the lid so predators would have a hard time getting in.
Brooder - food water.jpg
Brooder.jpg


After the chicks hatched. I moved the nest box out since the sides were too tall for the chicks to get in and out of and added a larger amount of food and a better water container for the chicks. Mama hen settled in with her babies very nicely.
Mama brooder.jpg


We are planning on putting the normal lid back on this box, flap door in one of the sides, and air holes all around the top edge of the box. This will be the nighttime shelter for the hen and her chicks. We are planning on placing this box inside of a 5" by 5" PVC run that we constructed previously to put chicks on grass. I'm thinking this housing solution should work pretty well for a couple of weeks right?
chick run open.jpg


I can't help but share some of the cuteness. 6 of the 7 chicks are yellow (as to be expected with a Leghorn cross for a dad) but we got one little grey chick. I think that little dot on its head is SO cute!
grey chick1.jpg grey chick2.jpg
 

Tuhmu

Songster
9 Years
May 22, 2012
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North Dakota
Do you have a pet carrier, like medium cat/small dog size? I've had good success with that. Getting the mama to know that that is "home" for her and her chicks, so at night I can lock it and easily bring her and the babies inside. During the day I can go set them back out in the playpen.

Sounds like what your doing is similar, just suggesting a pet carrier since it might be a bit more predator proof. Plus it is also a bit more portable, so you could set her in your hen house with the other chickens at night.

I keep doing that until the chicks start getting into that awkward feather stage and are pretty mobile, then start letting mama hen out of the pet carrier in the hen house/fence so they can get integrated.

Very cute chick, I'm a sucker for gray ones too.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
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Southeast Louisiana
Just a warning, with a barred hen that dot could mean it is a black sex link male. I don't know the make-up of the hens that laid the eggs, but you might not want to get too attached. That's probably from a Delaware, they are barred.

That should work pretty well for a few weeks, the risk is that it is not real predator proof. I don't know what your predator situation is like but it sounds like you have successfully used it before.

Could I ask why you are isolating them from the flock? Plenty of people do so I'm not criticizing, just wondering. If you house that hen in there for two or three nights, she should return the chicks to that spot at night. I often do something similar when my coop is too full to reduce the chicken load in the coop itself. But after two or three days I let mine roam with the flock. We all do these things differently.

One risk in trying to isolate a hen and chicks is that the chicks can escape, maybe underneath, through the wire, or through the door, and mingle with the rest of the flock but the broody is locked up so she cannot protect her chicks.
 

Redhead Rae

Chickens, chickens everywhere!
Premium Feather Member
Jan 4, 2017
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Braxton County, WV
Just a warning, with a barred hen that dot could mean it is a black sex link male. I don't know the make-up of the hens that laid the eggs, but you might not want to get too attached. That's probably from a Delaware, they are barred.

My Delawares are 4 weeks old, so that isn't a possibility. My Roo is a leghorn cross and my hens are leghorn crosses, Dominiques, Dom/Buff cross, and Dom/RIR. I put 3 of my Leghorn/EE hen's eggs to hatch and I tried to make the other 5 eggs from my Dom/Dom crosses, but some of my leghorn crosses lay nice big brown eggs, so those could be in the mix too. The Leghorn crosses came from a friend of a neighbor and all we know is that she had a Leghorn Roo and all the birds she gave us were white. I don't have a problem with roosters. We eat them if they aren't fit for breediing or good at guarding the hens.
 

Redhead Rae

Chickens, chickens everywhere!
Premium Feather Member
Jan 4, 2017
8,516
45,652
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Braxton County, WV
Could I ask why you are isolating them from the flock? Plenty of people do so I'm not criticizing, just wondering. If you house that hen in there for two or three nights, she should return the chicks to that spot at night. I often do something similar when my coop is too full to reduce the chicken load in the coop itself. But after two or three days I let mine roam with the flock. We all do these things differently.

I'm working on getting enough electric poultry netting to house my entire flock. I also have about a dozen Buff Orpington Cockerels I need to slaughter. I can do it but I'm not that fast with it yet, I top out at about 3 birds in a day. I plan on moving the 5x5 run inside of the poultry netting once I can enclose a large enough space to introduce them to the flock. I currently have 4 different "flocks". My laying hens and roo, my 16 week old Buffs, my 4 week old New Hampshires and Delawares, and my Mama and her chicks. I plan to slowly integrate them. Perhaps I'll start working the Buff hens into a flock with my layers and separate out the roos I'm going to slaughter.
 

snhchick

Chirping
Jul 6, 2015
72
4
59
I'm trying to raise my first little chick with the flock. This is the first hatched chick for me and my hens. Everything was going great, but today, day 3, the hens (she has twos mommas), took her outside the coop and she got out of the pen. I have a dog kennel that has welded wire along the bottom, but obviously it has openings big enough for the chick to escape. I was thinking about putting wood along the bottom of the run. Any other suggestions? I didn't expect them to take her outside so soon! Thanks. Here's the photo of the three of them.
zap.jpg
 

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