How/what to feed baby chicks hatched by broody hen?


11 Years
Mar 7, 2008
Western PA
I've had chickens for 3 years, hatched baby chicks in the incubator last year for the first time. I kept these in a brooder at first, then moved them to a different pen until they were 18 weeks and could be joined with the older chickens and eat the layer food.

What do you do with the broody hen and the baby chicks she hatches out? I read that some people move them out to a separate coop, some leave them in the main coop if the older ones treat them "niceley". (I was planning on moving them into the second coop.)

Do you provide chick raising food and put the food for the mother up higher where the baby chicks can't reach it? Will the mother eat the baby's food?
What do baby chicks eat when people leave them with the adult chickens in one coop? I use layer pellets. Does the broody hen (this is my first broody one - a silky) feed them in some way?
I am confused about the feeding part of it all. If anybody could explain it to me that would be great!

Also, what are my chances of the "first-time mom" knowing what to do with her baby chicks? How will I know when to intervene and take them away from her and raise them like the "incubator hatched ones"?


10 Years
Sep 9, 2009
Olympia, WA
I feed all my chickens gamebird (20-22%) and/or flockraiser (18-20%) depending on what I can get. I put oyster shell out free choice so the laying hens can meet their calcium needs. This works well for me because I only have to keep one kind of feed out and everybody gets what they need, but nothing that they don't.

I have broody hens in with the main flock and one that stays seperate. Both ways work well for me, but some people have had chicks killed by the other chooks. I think if you have any chooks that are very aggresive to the chicks or are tight on space it's best to seperate them. If I have a broody sitting on eggs in the main coop I do section her nest box off so the other hens can't lay their eggs in it and so that she can't get confused and get back on the wrong nest (happend once) after her daily food/water/poo trip off the nest.

My broody that likes to sit in her own space brings her chicks out to meet the flock when they are around two weeks old. I free range so it just happens naturally and I haven't had any problems with re-integration of the broody or her chicks. They range close to but not with the main flock for a week or two then they all just kind of blend in together.

ETA: Chicks shouldn't eat layer, it has too much calcium in it for them and can cause problems as they get older. Momma (and the rest) will eat the chicks food too. Chick starter won't hurt the mom (or other chickens) but if it's medicated you may not want to eat the eggs (some do, some don't) I just use the flockraiser and don't worry about it.

I do keep corid on hand just in case the chicks have an outbreak of cocci, but I haven't ever had to use it on any of the hen raised chicks.
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11 Years
Mar 20, 2008
Does the broody hen (this is my first broody one - a silky) feed them in some way?

No. She will walk them to the feeder and waterer. And teach them how to scratch and look for bugs. They don't feed them like a bird would.
You can put a feeder with chick starter in it and a shallow waterer close to where they are while the other eggs are still being hatched. They won't need anything for the first 2-3 days. I usually put the waterer and food down for them on day two. I dip their beaks too.
If you aren't using the starter you can ground up the pellets in a blender.​


13 Years
Jun 21, 2009
I have been feeding my broody chick starter and she has been finding bugs and worms and green leafy things to eat too. So far she is fine. The chicks seem to want to eat whatever Momma is eating. Momma shares her treats with her peeps. It is really sweet.


6 Years
Sep 24, 2013
Hi, okay i have a question. Can my broody chicken eat medicated chick starter? I have food for her and separate food for the baby chicks but she was giving them her own food. And the baby chicks only eat what she gives them. So can i feed her the chick starter and take out her food?


In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 27, 2013
I am glad that you asked that because I want to know the same thing. I am sad to see that no one has responded.


5 Years
Aug 21, 2014
Silverdale, Washington
My Coop
My Coop
Does the broody hen (this is my first broody one - a silky) feed them in some way?

Thank you for your reply. We are a day away from our broody hatching eggs. She is in the main coop, and we have been wondering if momma feeds the chicks.

We have hanging feeders, and I have been thinking of just putting the feeders on the ground for two weeks. And smashing the pellets for a month so the chicks can eat. We raised our chicks last year without starter and they did great. We free range most days still as well to supliment there diet.
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Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
Southern Oregon
Momma will make a big mess digging food out of a hanging feeder to let her babies eat. I just have feed on the ground for them until the babies can reach the feeder.


5 Years
Dec 9, 2014
Bakersfield California
It's my understanding there is no medicine in medicated chick feed. There is an inhibitor to prevent cocci, not real medicine. Fine to eat eggs. Experts, please explain in better detail

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