How will the chicks get down from a high brood nest?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lexa, May 17, 2007.

  1. lexa

    lexa In the Brooder

    May 10, 2007
    So I have this broody hen sitting in a nest box I built. I don't mind her brooding in there but I am a little worried because when they finally hatch how will they get down? The nest box is about 2.5 to 3 feet off the ground. It is about 5 inches deep and I'm not sure if they will hurt themselves trying to get out (or will they be stuck!?). We only go down to check on the chickens once a day (it's about a 30 minute drive) so I doubt we'll be there when she is trying to lead them away from the nest for the first time, not that she'd appreciate us being there at that time! These girls are all so wild! I thought for a while about moving her into a pen and moving her clutch with her so she can finish out her broodiness and hatch on the ground. However, she is so wild I don't know how she'll take being handled and moved. Will it brake her of her broodiness if we move the nest? She may even freak out so much when we try to get her off the nest she could brake some eggs. I don't want to sacrifice my babies! Also, the only pen I have has a couple pullets in it and is rather small. Will she hate being confined with them? What's my best option?

    Thanks for any help!
  2. allen wranch

    allen wranch Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    San Marcos, TX
    Can you put her in a dog crate inside your pullets' pen ? Move her and the eggs after dark and come daylight, she will probably not notice the change. It will also be less stressful for her. The dog crate will keep her confined so she can't wander off the nest (don't forget food and water).

    If she stays where she is, you are going to lose some chicks. If they fall out of the nest, mama can't get them back in, and she will abandon them to hatch the rest of the eggs. Also, how are the chicks going to get food and water ?
  3. Critter Crazy

    Critter Crazy Songster

    Apr 19, 2007
    Binghamton, NY
    The best way to move a Broody hen, Is at night while she is sleeping. She will have to have a nest on the floor, in a cage or something so that the other birds cant get to her and the chicks. If you move her at night, you have less chance of upsetting her.
  4. Freebie

    Freebie Songster

    Feb 4, 2007
    Bloomingdale, MI
    I would say definately do it at night with a flashlight and a friend. You may need them for moral support.
  5. Whirlwind

    Whirlwind Songster

    Apr 14, 2007
    Tuttle, Oklahoma
    I also agree, move them at night. Also I would wear gloves. She will try to peck hard. I used a dog crate and it worked well.

    Good luck. Keep us posted on results.
  6. jessupfamily

    jessupfamily Songster

    May 14, 2007
    SW Indiana
    I had a mama hatch out 11 chicks in the top corner nest (2.5 ft up) last year. I just tacked up a piece of wood on the front of the box to act as a barrier. The chicks can't get over it until she's ready to take them out, about 2 days after the last chick is hatched. The babies don't generally try to leave their mama until she gives the all clear. They can get down just fine with her. She then started taking them in the lower box at night. If you don't have a lower box you can put in a crate or small box on it's side on the floor of the coop by the nest boxes and she'll probably use that. We've tried to move a mama and her eggs at night and she ended up abandoning the nest and trying to go back up to the upper nest if their were any eggs in it. They seem to like the top nests, maybe they feel safer, because the other hens seem to peck at the mamas down low while they're sitting. All of our mamas take their chicks out for the first time at about 1-2 days after the last chick is hatched. We have had 4-5 hens hatch and care for their own babies for the last 4 years (and we have 4 sitting right now, the first is due to hatch in the next couple of days!!!) This is my favorite part of having chickens! [​IMG] We love seeing a mama with her babies! Let us know about your babies.
    Amy J.
    1 person likes this.
  7. lexa

    lexa In the Brooder

    May 10, 2007
    Hey everyone! Thanks for your suggestions! I am still a little wary of moving her because she's never ever been handled before and I really don't want to traumatize her. I am torn and may decide to move her in the next few days. I think I'd certainly have to put her in a dog crate or something to keep her on the nest, particularly since there are pullets in the only available penned area... although I don't think I have a crate large enough. I just have a cat sized one. Too small, no?

    Amy - I'm glad to hear that you've had mama & babies make it to the ground safely before. It makes me feel better about leaving her. If I decide to leave her alone I'll just put a big pile of straw right below the nest so it's nice and soft when the babies tumble out. She's not in a coop and never has been (we don't have one yet, we inherited these chickens wild with a piece of property so we're just about to start building one) but the other mamas don't seem to have a problem finding safe sleeping spots on the ground with their babies so I think they'll all be fine once they're on the ground. It is just the falling out of the nest part that makes me nervous! [​IMG]
  8. birdlover

    birdlover Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    I don't think it's a good idea to put straw on the ground for when they fall out. That might keep them from getting hurt but it won't keep them warm and they'll die from exposure. If it were me, I'd do like someone here said and put a high enough barrier in front of the nest to keep the chicks from falling out but that the mother can still come out to get food, water and deficate while setting. And just before they hatch, I'd put chick feed and waterer with marbles in it (so they don't drown) IN the nest but do the barrier AND the food and water at night. After the last chick hatches, put a ramp so they can come out and go back in. But have a nest box for them on the ground in case that's what she wants. I've done this very thing before and it worked fine (even the ramp). However, my hen and chicks were just a stone's throw from my house so I could check on them regularly in case anything went wrong. Good luck! Do you know when they're due to hatch?

  9. Farmlife4me

    Farmlife4me In the Brooder

    Oct 27, 2009
    Old Town, Florida
    I know this is a old post here but I have a few questions ... I have a silkie hen sitting on 1 egg and its due to hatch the day after Thanksgiving [​IMG] And the nest is up off the ground about 2ft give or take , NOW will she just pick it up or will it jump down [​IMG] ? AND will the other hens kill it [​IMG] ? Still new to all this CHICKEN business ! BUT SURE AM LOVING IT [​IMG] !!!!!!!!!!
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Quote:You did find an old thread, didn't you. Glad you are doing your research.

    I have seen a broody hatch chicks out in a 10 foot high hay loft. When Mama told them to jump to the ground, they jumped. They were not injured. They spread their wings but can't really fly. It does stabilize them and helps slow their descent. They are living animals and anything can happen. That's why I like the idea of something fairly soft for them to land on, but I would not be overly concerned.

    As far as the other hens killing the chick, that depends on Mama. Most broodies will defend their chicks viciously, taking on any hen or rooster that threatens her baby. If the baby is left alone, the other hens will probably try to kill it, but if Mama is around that is not very likely to happen. Sometimes you do get a wimpy Mama and she will let the others harm her baby, but that is pretty rare. And sometimes the rooster will protect the baby instead of trying to harm it. It just depends on the individual personality of the birds involved.

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