Managing/Encouraging broody hens with a "Broody Box" ***Hatching Pics!

Winsor Woods

Songster
10 Years
Jun 14, 2009
378
5
121
Cascade Range in WA
Thank you all! I am a proud pappa.

I started this clutch with 12 eggs. One was broken during incubation (week two I think) and one had the tell-tale blood ring signifying a dead embryo when I candled at 7 days.

So I did lose two eggs of the initial clutch. However, I went into lockdown with 10 eggs and Dottie hatched them all out. I think that is an amazing feat in itself. I'm really proud of all her effort and dedication.

Many times throughout the day, I held the feeder and waterer for her so she could get some nourishment without leaving her peeps. She chowed down like I've never seen her before. She knows that it's time to build herself back up. I did pick her up once today and she's really light. I felt sooo bad for her. After she ate her crop was FAT! She's going to have a long road to recover what the broodiness took out of her. Her poor comb and wattles are just about the color of my hands. Yikes.

I'll still keep progress posted here on how the peeps manage. Through my own anecdotal experience, I've learned that my losses of peeps usually come between week one and week two so we're not out of the woods just yet. Some people don't count their chicks before they're hatched. I don't like to count them before they're out of the brooder
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This was surely fun and I'd be happy to repeat this "experiment" if another hen goes broody. I'm also going to build a cabinet incubator to aid in my desire to selectively breed a fast growing meat bird that doesn't rely on Big Ag but I'm sure I'll incubate my laying flock eggs in there too. This is surely addicting and can't see myself waiting too terribly long before I hatch out some more birds. I also want to become a member of the BYC "Trader Joe's" hatching club. That thread is awesome!

Dan
 

Winsor Woods

Songster
10 Years
Jun 14, 2009
378
5
121
Cascade Range in WA
All of Dottie's Chicks are still alive today. The one gimp that is having a hard time moving around has been named "Franklin" by my wife. I went to the ranch store today and got 2 each of BO, RIR, Barred Rock, Black Australorp, and guinea fowl.

I tried to graft them onto Dottie and I started with the Black Australorp and Barred Rock Peeps and all was going just fine. Then I got to the lighter colored peeps of the RIR, BO and Guinea fowl. Dottie was having nothing to do with them and would peck at them incessantly. The final straw was when she grabbed a poor little RIR peep at the base of it's beak and started to thrash it around. My heart skipped a beat and I gathered all the new peeps up and put them in the brooder I have in the garage. So sorry for that lil' guy/gal. I also took "Franklin" out to the brooder with the others so that I could keep a better eye on him/her....I guess it's a him with a name like "Franklin" but I have no idea of it's true gender so for now it's a "him."

Franklin kinda just scoots around. It seems like one leg is much stronger than the other so when he tries to stand up, his stronger leg pushes his body onto the opposite side. I'm not sure he'll make it but I'll give him the best shot I can. I felt bad about removing him from his siblings and mommy, but I really think this is the best thing for him because the other peeps are all starting to jump, walk, pounce, explore, etc. and he's been stuck under Dottie the whole time. I could just see him being left in the dust and there's a "No Peep Left Behind" policy here if we can help it. I'll draw the line at hand feeding though. If Franklin can't scoot over to the water and food, then I'll cull him, but I wanted to watch his progress regularly and I can't do that while he's hiding under Dottie.

In thinking about my grafting attempt, I can think of two things that might have improved my chances of success.

1. Have a wider variety of eggs under the broody hen to begin with. Dottie really noticed the coloration difference and she went after the RIR's, BO's, and Guineas specifically. She pretty much left the Black Australorps and Barred Rocks alone. With a wider variety of peeps that she hatched out, there would have been a wider variety of coloration and it would have been harder for her to distinguish between the new peeps and her peeps.

2. Any future grafting attempts will be done at night time. Again, Darkness helps to mask the differences and give her time to adjust to the "intruders." I would have normally done this at night anyways, but I read a thread here at BYC where someone advised that you just put the peeps in there in the daytime and it pretty much works itself out.

I suppose that Dottie could still have refused the new peeps despite those changes. Anyways, the brooder now has peeps and they will make some nice additions to the layer flock when they grow up.

Dan
 

Chickie'sMoma

Songster
10 Years
Mar 21, 2009
2,115
18
181
Rochester, NH
if moma hen knows she hatched out all black chicks she certainly notices the differences in color of the new chicks. i tried to introduce some fav chicks to a fav mom who hatched out a bunch of black cochin mixed chicks the week before and she wasn't willing to take them at all. lucky i had another moma hen who just hatched out a bunch of chicks and i easily was able to get her to accept them-she had different colors under her to begin with and they were hatched within a few days before the new chicks were introduced.

it does seem like it is easier to put chicks under the hen when it is dark. she would just assume that the eggs still under her were hatched during the night.

congrats on your hatch!
 

Winsor Woods

Songster
10 Years
Jun 14, 2009
378
5
121
Cascade Range in WA
Two of the peeps that I got from the ranch store died. Not sure what the cause of death was but I'm attributing it to the rough actions of Dottie when I tried to graft them to her brood.

Dan
 

Winsor Woods

Songster
10 Years
Jun 14, 2009
378
5
121
Cascade Range in WA
It's been one week since the little ones hatched. I figured this would be a good time for an update.

Dottie is doing a great job being a mother. "Franklin" has had a miraculous recovery in the brooder and was running around just as well as the rest of the ranch store peeps so I put him back in with Dottie and she accepted him with no quarrels.

I've been letting the laying flock out of the coop to freerange every day and I've started locking the coop back up and letting Dottie and her peeps have the entire coop to themselves. I'll throw some chicken scratch on the floor and made little piles of starter here and there for them to forage. Dottie does a great job teaching the little ones how to eat. She'll grab a small piece of food with her beak, make interesting clucking sounds as she manipulates the morsel and then all the peeps look at her. Then she drops the morsel and they all converge and fight over who get the little bit of food that Dottie dropped.

Two days ago, I allowed Dottie to bring her brood outside the coop to practice free-ranging. She did a marvelous job and I supervised the whole time. At one point, one of the little peeps got tangled up in some vetch and I had to intervene but the two hour session was otherwise un-eventful.

No losses in the ranch store peeps for a few days now so hopefully they are stabilizing. I have remaining, the following in that batch:

2 black Australorps
1 RIR
1 BO
1 Barred Rock
2 Guinea Fowl

That's all for now.

Dan
 

Winsor Woods

Songster
10 Years
Jun 14, 2009
378
5
121
Cascade Range in WA
It's been a while since I updated this thread. There hasn't been much going on to really update. Dottie has been very faithful in caring for her 9 remaining peeps. That is until yesterday. I was inside reading a book and heard the peeps through the screen door alarm calling for their mommy. I couldn't find any of the laying flock at first glance. After walking around to the usual places, I still couldn't find them. I enlisted my wife's help and she finally found them in the woods where I don't usually see them. After herding the flock back toward the peeps, Dottie stayed with them until they put themselves away.

This morning, Dottie was first in line to be let out. When I opened the coop, she ran off in an instant and the rest of the full grown birds followed. I kept the door propped open for the peeps, who hesitantly exited but stayed near the door. After 15 minutes, it was apparent that Dottie is done being a mommy for this brood. I herded the peeps back into the coop because they are still pretty small and need protection. I collected the peeps from the brooder in the garage and introduced them to Dottie's peeps and they are all in the coop now. I figure I'll keep them cooped up for a week or so so they recognize that this is their new home. Then I'll start letting them all out for some supervised free-ranging time.

Dan
 

Chickie'sMoma

Songster
10 Years
Mar 21, 2009
2,115
18
181
Rochester, NH
if they are about a month old that might be the right time that a moma hen would start pushing them away from her. some hens will try to keep them longer but i noticed my brahma was picking on them at a month old. as soon as they were out of her sight she laid her 1st egg again since going broody!
 

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