mama hen doesn't seem all that bright....what to do...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by jojomojo, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. jojomojo

    jojomojo Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 12, 2009
    NW New Mexico
    I had a hen that was broody for over a month, so I decided to get her some chicks from the feed store.

    When we first moved her from the community nest box (couple days before giving her chicks), into the "topper" for our brooder (like this except with hardware cloth all the way down) in the corner of the coop, she seemed fine with it. Gave her some chicks and it went smoothly (been with her for 4 days now, she's protective of them, shows them food/water, etc). We kept the brooder closed so the rest of the flock wouldn't bother her. The last two days I've left it open because I want everyone to get to know each other quicker and let mama do her thing.

    Well, apparently her thing is to hop out of the brooder (only 12" or so high) and cluck to her babies from the other side to get under her. She's done that twice today. The first time it had been 4 hrs since I'd checked on them, don't know how long they were separated but the poor things were huddling and shivering (high today was only 32°). Am I wrong to think if she was a good mama, she'd know to hop right back in and warm her babies up?

    I took the brooder out and just left her set up in the corner of the coop. I really want to let her do her thing as naturally as possible, but thought I'd ask here. Would you trust her to keep her babies safe/warm (now having access to leave the coop down the ramp) or would you put the brooder back in and keep it closed? They were all doing so good up until today [​IMG]
  2. brahmabreeder

    brahmabreeder Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2012
    Northeast Ohio
    I would do some sort of set up where the babies can always get to mama. That way if she decides to go some place where the chicks can't they don't freeze to death.
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    She did what she was supposed to do, and you did the right thing to take the high nest out. Hopefully by now they are under her and warm, on the floor (well, hopefully on some hay or whatever.) They need to learn to come to her call, just as she should settle down on them when they run under her for warmth. I suspect the high nest was confusing them, and they will be fine now. Good luck!
  4. jojomojo

    jojomojo Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 12, 2009
    NW New Mexico
    Yeah, I figured if "nature" doesn't seem to be working right, first I'll remove myself (and my misguided interventions!) from the situation and see how it plays out lol I am worried about them though.

    I guess I made the mistake thinking that mama would make sure she was always near her babies. Now with access to the ramp/run, I'm afraid if I don't check often enough she'll end up leaving some outside without her just because they didn't come to her. This is my first time with a hen doing the brooding. I got my first small flock last June and brooded them inside.

    They are all now toasty warm in the corner of the coop on her nest. I'm trying to trust her to take care of those babies for me, but its hard! lol
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  5. lizanne

    lizanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 3, 2012
    Citrus Heights, Ca
    You and me both. I put a few of my smallest chicks under my broody Silkie on Saturday morning. I put them in the nesting box with her, but got worried because the nesting boxes are about 3 feet off the ground, and I didn't want the chicks to fall to their death. I moved them to a nest in a box in an enclosed run. She ran right up to the box, and she is sitting on them, and seems to be taking care of them but I still worry. I guess I should just chill, and trust her to take care of them.

  6. jojomojo

    jojomojo Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 12, 2009
    NW New Mexico
    Aww, cute!

    Just what I was afraid of - today I found 2 of the 6 little peeps outside in 32° weather and mama inside with the other 4. Mama dropped the ball. But, I'll cut her some slack because maybe she didn't bond with them (or them with her) since they came from the feed store.

    What to do though... Should I keep her penned up with them until they are at least a few weeks? How much space would they need? Maybe I'll build a little A-frame mini-tractor for broodies to place inside the run (which is really only an area temporarily fenced with electronet, mini-coop would have to be SOLID). At least this way they would all be on ground level, no ramp to confuse the little peeps.

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