Let a broody hen hatch eggs, now what?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by katydidit, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. katydidit

    katydidit Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 10, 2011
    This is my first year with a rooster, and i had an incredibly reliable broody, so i waited. She started to sit on the eggs, so I set up a "brooder pen" for her- an old rabbit hutch with a solid bottom, nest box/food/water. I wasnt sure if any were fertile, I just kind of set up a makeshift candler and did my best. This morning, of course after almost a foot of snow had fallen, I hear some peeping- sure enough!! I HAVE A BABY! I have wrapped the pen in sheets, so no moisture/snow is in there, and momma appears to be keeping the baby warm...

    That being said, should I let mom raise the chicks? Or should I move them indoors into the brooder? Right now I only have one, so i would feel horrible for the chick to be alone. Any advice would be GREATLY APPRECIATED! Like I said, they are outdoors, and temps range from low 30s to the 50s....

    If i do keep the chicks in there, when is it time to separate them from momma hen?

    Thanks in advance :)
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I would let the mama raise the chicks, even in cold weather. She will keep them warm. She may still hatch more of the eggs over the next day or two. Just offer chick feed instead of layer. The whole flock can eat chick feed just fine, medicated or not. If others are laying, just offer oyster shell separately.

    My broodies and chicks have tried to get out of their pen, where the rest of the flock is, when the chicks were a couple of days old, and I always let them out, to raise the chicks in with the flock. The mama will decide when she is through raising them, around 5-6 weeks on average, though this varies. If the flock is all together at that point, the chicks will be fine as the flock will be accustomed to them.

    If you decide to keep the mama and chicks separate, the mama will start chasing the chicks away from her, and soon resume laying, when she is through with them. If you take them away before she is ready, it will stress her. If you do this you will probably have to continue to care for the chicks in a separate area until they are adult size.
  3. ChucktheChick

    ChucktheChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2012
    The coop
    very VERY good post
  4. katydidit

    katydidit Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 10, 2011
    Thank you so much! I was worried, but mom seems to be doing a fantastic job. Will she know when its time to "boot" the little ones? And at that time should I try to integrate them to the rest of the flock?

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