Mama hen environment

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ZachyWachy, Apr 3, 2017.

  1. ZachyWachy

    ZachyWachy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 25, 2017
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    Hopefully soon we shall be having broody hens, so I would like to know what would be a good environment for her to brood her eggs, and then raise her chicks, and not have to redo te pecking order for mama at least when we put them together.
     
  2. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    I leave mine in the nestbox until they hatch, then I move them to my attached brooder coop, and they stay in there and I open the gate between that coops run and the main run so they can start integrating with the flock after the first week. No reintegration of anyone required since they only spend that first week apart from the group.
     
  3. ZachyWachy

    ZachyWachy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That sounds good, only problem is that my hens only lay in 4 nesting boxes, so It would probably be better for me to, l don't know, maybe section off a part of the coop and put her in their in one of the unused nesting boxes? What do you think?
     
  4. SunHwaKwon

    SunHwaKwon Overrun With Chickens

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    Mine lay in two of three, primarily, and they do kick her off her eggs on occassion. I mark the ones she is hatching with a circle around the circumference in sharpie so I know which to collect and which to leave. I do sometimes have to put her back on the eggs but it has never affected a hatch, since they get sat on by one of the other hens as she is waiting for an egg to come out, and she uses that opportunity to go eat and poop and dustbathe. Sometimes I see her watching the other hen and just waiting to get back on her eggs; other times she will go in a different box if there are eggs in it too and then that is when I have to move her back when I get home from work or at bedtime (depending on when it occurs).

    ETA the only problem with sectioning her off is that essentially you are isolating her from the flock longer and then may have to reintegrate.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  5. ZachyWachy

    ZachyWachy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 25, 2017
    Petersboro, Utah
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    Ok, that will be helpful.
     
  6. song of joy

    song of joy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There are various approaches you can take, but just be aware that each has its pros and cons. My preference is to separate the broody in view of the rest of the flock while she's incubating and for the 1st week after the chicks hatch. Then I remove the barrier and let her move at will between her broody area and the main coop, so she has a choice of how and when to integrate her chicks with the rest of the flock. I partition off a small (3 x 3 foot) area of the coop with chicken wire or hardware cloth. The barrier is generally about 6 feet high to keep her in and other flock members out.

    One of the biggest pros to this approach is that other hens will not be moving in and out of the broody's nest box. The risks of allowing other hens to have access to the broody's nest box include: 1) other hens will add their eggs to the ones she's incubating, which means you need to mark the original eggs and you have to disturb the broody daily to remove eggs that shouldn't be under her; 2) the added hen traffic in the broody's nest box greatly increases the risk of ending up with broken eggs, which can ruin the whole batch; and 3) when the broody gets off the nest to eat, drink, and poo she may return to a different nest box, which means the eggs may cool down and die.

    The downside is that she'll probably go broody in a nest box in the main coop, and then you'd have to move her. This can break her broodiness, but I've never had that happen. I leave her in the nest box in which she's gone broody for 2 or 3 days, then move her at night onto a nest of fake eggs in the new location. For at least the 1st week, I put up a visual barrier (e.g., an old bedsheet) so she can't see outside the new broody area. If she remains broody in the new location for 2 days, I switch out the fake eggs with the eggs I want her to hatch.

    After the chicks hatch, there's a 5 to 7-day period when the rest of the flock can see the broody and her chicks but not bother them. This gives the chicks some time to gain strength and speed, and learn to listen to and follow the hen before they directly encounter other flock members. I've only had mid- to upper-ranking hens go broody, so I've had no issues with either the hen or her chicks re-integrating with the flock, even when the flock did not see the broody hen during the incubation period.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017

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