letting broody mamas raise chicks

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by lwemmer, May 18, 2012.

  1. lwemmer

    lwemmer In the Brooder

    10
    0
    22
    Jul 16, 2011
    Our bantam has been broody for a week now. I'm thinking about letting her raise chicks so the kids can see the whole process. Is it always necessary to separate the broody hen and eggs from the other chickens? Broody mama is a bantam and we have five other full sized hens plus a rooster. The whole coop is in a fenced area with a couple of pygmy goats too-- they do like to chase the larger chickens. Not sure how they would react to chicks.
     
  2. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    5,367
    481
    336
    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    Kinda depends on your chickens. I have never separated them and have had no problems except for other hens crowding into the broody nest to lay more eggs. I have 19 other hens in a coop now with two broodies and 13 chicks and they all get along. however, not all chickens are alike! Some people separate juuuust in case. You could keep broody in a crate in the coop with the other chickens just to be sure?
     
  3. lwemmer

    lwemmer In the Brooder

    10
    0
    22
    Jul 16, 2011
    She's already in a cat carrier that the chickens like better as a nest box than their actual nest boxes. I was thinking about putting another carrier in there for an additional box that the other hens will like and use. Do the roosters even react to chicks?
     
  4. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    5,367
    481
    336
    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    Believe me, once a broody is in there on eggs, wherever she is will be the place they want to lay eggs. :p I have tons of boxes in my coop and they always want THAT one. My rooster pays no attention to the chicks, but again - YMMV. :)
     
  5. gdplum

    gdplum In the Brooder

    83
    1
    31
    Nov 9, 2010
    Tulsa
    I recently had a broody hen. I set her on four eggs...for two nights. She was isolated in a small coop from the other hens. About 9 pm, she was groggy from sleep...I removed the four eggs and replaced them with 8 two day old chicks. They blended immediately. The chicks are now 5 weeks old and doing well. Keep in mind the size of the coop where they will be raised. I would keep them isolated from the older hens. Good luck.
     
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,727
    181
    294
    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    As you see, there are some folks who leave the hens to brood in their home coops without having any problems. But I think it's ideal to give the broody her own private quarters whenever possible in order to avoid potential problems.

    Chickens are not so much trend setters as they are fashion-followers. They like to lay their eggs where others have already done so, thinking "this must be a safe place to lay, look how many others have left their eggs already!" The sight of a brooding hen is exceptionally appealing. "Wow, she thinks that place is so safe she's decided to raise her family there!" The intruding hens can cause eggs to break in the nest, or push the developing ones aside so they don't get the warmth they need.

    Broody Mama can also get misdirected on her way back from her daily coffee break, and go to set on another nest and leave her egglings to cool.

    I also like to let the Mamas have their own place to raise their chicks. Some flocks will leave new chicks alone, others will peck them to death. Also, chicks will need starter feed to eat, which is more costly than layer feed, and lacks the calcium the laying hens need. Anyway, the Mamas will be ready to return to their flocks before the chicks are fully grown, so it helps to have a separate place to keep the chicks.

    Keep in mind that when you hatch out chicks you'll probably end up with more roosters than you may want to keep, be sure to have a good Plan B for them. If that plan involves getting rid of them in some way, make sure your kids don't get overly attached to them. Have them practice saying "IF this is a hen that we're going to keep, we'll name her..."
     
  7. Jersey101

    Jersey101 In the Brooder

    44
    3
    34
    Apr 13, 2012
    Jersey, Channel Islands
    Yeah I say always best to separate just in case - you'd only blame yourself if an accident did happen. Big hens/cockerels could tread on the chicks, or crack the eggs by accident, or mama hen could be so protective she hurts the other hens around her, or abandons her chicks to fight the others and leaves them unprotected in the process (we had one that did this, had to put a curtain round her little run so she couldn't even see the other chickens.) You just don't know how they're going to react so better safe than sorry!
     
  8. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Free Ranging

    20,805
    6,352
    627
    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    Sunny Side Up said it well - and the last thing you want your children to experience is the loss of chicks through overly aggressive other birds.
     
  9. mstricer

    mstricer Crowing

    7,483
    200
    326
    Feb 12, 2009
    Ohio
    I have always left mine in the coop, I feel they are more comfortable. I do, however, give the hens a brooder house for when her chicks are born. She has them out foraging at day one. As for you those saying " its the last thing you want is for your children to see or find missing or dead chicks" its actually a good lesson. Always explain death to children, sorry its a part of life. If you shelter them from it then they won't be able to deal well with it. It is a sad thing when it happens.
     
  10. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Songster

    1,428
    57
    201
    Apr 2, 2010
    Sullivan, IL
    Let me start by saying that I am FAR from being an expert on the subject of broody hens. I've got my first two ever this year, and only one of them currently has chicks (the other just went broody and is waiting on hatching eggs to set on). So I am definitely a beginner here.

    With my first broody, I put her in a small A-frame tractor that we have so that she would have her privacy while she was setting infertile eggs. The first day she spent pacing back and forth trying to figure out how to get back into the coop with the rest of the flock. Then she settled back down on the eggs. Happily, we had a hatch due not long after she went broody, so we slipped those day old chicks under her in the dark of night and she has been caring for them ever since. When the chicks were about 2 weeks old, I let them out of the tractor and into the backyard with the rest of the flock (when my first hen went broody I had them all cooped up as we were reseeding the lawn, the day I let momma and her chicks out was also the first day any of the other hens got let out of the run in about a month). There were a few fights, each one of my hens had to pick a fight with the broody and I'm not entirely sure whether it was because she had been in a separate pen (although that pen was up against the back wall of the run and they could see her when she came out of the sheltered part) or if it was because they were going after her chicks. Either way, she's a big girl and there was never any doubt in my mind that she would be capable of warding off the other hens. I just wasn't sure she would have been able to do it in the coop when they were all cooped up together.

    My second hen we've decided to leave in the coop to hatch and brood. She is the lowest hen in the pecking order and I worry about her ability to reintegrate with the flock if I separate her out into a separate broody pen as well as her ability to protect her chicks should the others go after her and them. I am only slightly less concerned than I was with the first broody because I have seen that my flock can behave themselves around young chicks, so I'm hoping she doesn't have too hard a time protecting them from the other chickens. So far, the rest of the flock has pretty much given her her space in the nestbox, choosing the other box to lay in (still, no one wants to lay in the third box!) rather than climbing on top of her and laying in the box she's nesting in. She's been uncharacteristically brave when we've opened the nest boxes to collect eggs, so I'm hoping that boldness will extend to protecting her brood from the other hens. I know it's a gamble, but in her case I do feel it will make things easier on her in the long run.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: