Introducing hatchery chicks to several broody hens

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Mrs. Mucket, May 26, 2012.

  1. Mrs. Mucket

    Mrs. Mucket Songster

    May 3, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    I have four broodies, three of which have been on the nest for around four weeks with no hatches. It was kind of iffy all along since they went broody about 10 days after the rooster left so I'm not too surprised.

    I've ordered 25 chicks from a hatchery and I'd like the girls to brood them if they're game. I've read that the best way to introduce the chicks is to slip them under a sleeping or drowsy hen at night and remove the eggs.

    Is that how you've had success? Any other suggestions?

    Two of the hens are standard size in individual tractors next to each other in the outdoor run. One of these hens hatched chicks last year and the other is a first-timer one-year-old.

    The other two are banties who decided to "team brood" in the beginning and have been peacefully sitting all these weeks, "attached at the wing." One of them hatched chicks last year, the other tried but had no hatches. I'd like to give them each some chicks. Would you recommend separating them now? I really don't have another place to isolate one of them but I could figure something out. I'm also wondering if they'd get uptight being separated or if the joy of finding chicks would take care of that.

    Also, how many chicks can a standard or banty hen usually handle?

    Thanks for any tips!!
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité

    Jun 28, 2011
    Tipperary, Ireland
    I'd suggest slipping the chicks in at night when they're sleeping. Then keep and eye in the morning and see how they take the news. I've heard this method works quite well.
  3. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010

    So far it has worked every time for me. Even when the chicks were already a week old. It's worked with my best "mommy" hen and my worst one. It must be night time. Must be. I've tried it during the day and even if mom accepts them, they don't accept her because by this time they've bonded to humans already. Chicks run for me instead of staying in place and momma says "Ok then, out with you!"

    But night time is a whole different story for both chicks and momma. You slip those babies under that fluffy dark hen's underside and they just tuck in and go to sleep. Momma doesn't mind one bit and in the morning you have a happy family.

    As to whether to separate them, if they get along fine together with chicks then great. If not, then separate them. I don't know how many chicks a hen can handle but I've read up to like 10-12. For a standard size. For a bantam, well, some silkies have been known to raise a dozen. Personally I'd not give mine more than 6-8.
    Last edited: May 28, 2012

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