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Letting Nature Take It's Course?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by MamaDragon, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. MamaDragon

    MamaDragon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 4, 2008
    Camden, AR
    Greetings All!

    Three months ago, my 9 year old son was given 7 hens and a rooster by a neighbor. He would help her with her 50 hens any chance he got so she finally took pity on him and gave him a starter flock. They free-range in the daytime, and have a 10' x 10' converted shed for a coop with a 10' x 10' attached run enclosure for when we can't let them run.

    In the middle of July, the white leghorn of the group got broody, and started sitting the communal nest. (Yes, we have 6 nesting boxes available, but they all chose to use the same nest) In an attempt to keep the size of the hatching down to a reasonable number, we started removing the new eggs after there were 2 dozen in the nest. (not always successfully, as we found several partially incubated eggs had been brought into the house for consumption.)

    Yesterday evening, we found that we had a baby chick. Hooray, i think? There are 12 more eggs in the nest. The remainder of the hens finally started laying elsewhere.
    We weren't expecting them to start hatching for at least another week. I thought it took 28 days for them to start hatching, oh well, such is life.

    Now then, my questions are these:

    1. How long will the hen continue to sit the nest before she abandons the rest of the eggs?
    2. Since the Rooster and all 7 hens share room and roost, what do I need to do to ensure the survival of the ones that Do hatch?
    3. How do I keep the adult chickens from harrassing the chicks?
    4. How can I enclose the chicks and still allow the Mama Hen to come and go as she needs to eat, water, etc.?
    5. Or should I just let Mother Nature do her thing, and hope we can end up with some hatchlings that will survive to become members of the flock?

    I've been told that it takes at least 10 chickens to keep themselves warm thru winter temps below freezing. If this is true, we need to increase the flock to a size that will be self-sustaining but not so big that a elementary school-age boy and his city-born mother can't handle. (the last time I helped tend livestock was 40 years ago as a kid at my grandparent's place out in the country.)

    Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide, and sorry my first post in your Very Informative forum is so long.

    Kathy
    MamaDragon
     
  2. luvmychicknkids

    luvmychicknkids Canning Squirrel

    Mar 6, 2008
    Floresville, Texas
    Oh no, it only takes 21 days for them to hatch, so the week early is right on time. [​IMG] As far as how many you need, it is really more about having a secure, dry, draft free, enclosure than the number of chickens. Honestly, a few more or a few less really don't make that much difference in the work load. I say just do the number you feel comfortable having.

    Welcome and good luck. [​IMG]
     
  3. pkeeler

    pkeeler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2008
    Shamong
    Your coop seems big enough that you could make a chicken wire frame and enclose the hen and chicks. I don't think it has to be big, maybe 1/2 sf per chick and room for a waterer, hen feeder, and chick feeder.

    When all the chicks are hatched, maybe move them to a corner on the floor. I don't think the chicks can get up and down from the nest box (unless that is on the floor).

    The amazing thing about this is that a white leghorn went broody! :eek: Are you sure you have the breed right and it is not a white rock? [​IMG] White leghorns have been bred for decades to not be broody and she might not be a good mother.
     
  4. MamaDragon

    MamaDragon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 4, 2008
    Camden, AR
    Greetings All!

    After some Internet detective work, I THINK I've figured out what breeds of chickens we ended up with.

    Brown egg layers:
    1 Barred Rock, and 2 New Hampshire Reds.

    White egg layers:
    3 Brown Leghorns and 1 White Leghorn. Do White Rocks lay white eggs? If there is another White chicken that lays white eggs I'm open to other options.

    Chester, our rooster is most likely a New Hampshire Red.

    So far, the two chicks that have hatched match the pics for the NHR's.

    Kathy
     
  5. tiffanyh

    tiffanyh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2007
    Connecticut
    Are you able to separate mom and chicks from everyone else. The flock can be rough on newbies.
     
  6. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Congrats on the new addiction and the new editions!

    There is some really great threads about broody hens and hatching chicks. I'd suggest you use the "Search" feature at the top of the page and type in "broody" and then have fun reading. You should get the answers to all your questions that way.

    I would also suggest moving the momma and her chick(s) to a safer place. Either separate her from the flock using small wire or put her in an old rabbit hutch or large dog kennel until the chicks are about two weeks old. Then, momma should be able to protect them from the rest of the flock. (Key word is "should" - you'll want to keep a close eye on them whenever you do integrate them back into the flock.)

    Let momma sit for another day or two (at most) and then remove all the unhatched eggs so she'll start to think about being a momma to her chick(s).

    Just food for thought.... in the future it really helps to mark the eggs that you want her to hatch so that you can take out the newly laid eggs and eat them without worrying about finding a partially incubated chick. Or, better yet, move the broody to a separate area right away so no other hen can lay eggs by her.
     
  7. Chickending

    Chickending Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2007
    Minnesota
    I recently had a similiar situation but was completely surprised as my EE hen decided to go off in the trees and sit on a nest. I was so surprised when I had 9 healthy chicks running around their "pasture". All 9 chicks almost two weeks old are in the newly created nursery coop, which is adjacent to the existing coop. I removed them right away but later found out that most flocks will intergrate the mom and chicks fine. The next hen that decides to take matters into her own feathers, I will see if they integrate ok or not and watch them.
    Personally I would like to see it done the old fashioned way and see if the flock "raises" the babies together or not.

    PS. Reason I didnt know she had disappeared for 21 days is I have 37 chickens...kind of hard to count them all every night...they all sort of blur together sometimes...LOL
     
  8. pkeeler

    pkeeler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2008
    Shamong
    3 Brown Leghorns and 1 White Leghorn. Do White Rocks lay white eggs? If there is another White chicken that lays white eggs I'm open to other options.

    No, you are probably correct in that it is a white leghorn. Amazing. Just shows that breeds are generalizations and each chicken is an individual. Definitely keep an eye on her with the chicks though.

    There are other chickens that can be white and lay a white egg. But they are equally as unlikely to go broody.​
     

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