Mother won't feed chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by LLCoyote, Dec 29, 2016.

  1. LLCoyote

    LLCoyote Chillin' With My Peeps

    191
    7
    93
    May 24, 2011
    So two days ago I attempted to put three chicks under a broody mama. I haven't been able to get her to get off a nest for two months now, and I've tried just about everything people told me. Except putting babies under her. Seeing as the temps here have been really mild, I figured there couldn't be much harm in giving her a few babies. (Funny story: I went to Biltmore on vacation with my family and came home with chicks but what can you do when you're a worried bird mama? [​IMG])

    Anyway, the first day I put them with her, I think I panicked too early. She got annoyed about something and pecked the chicks so I immediately took them away. And boy was she MAD. So I let her get back on the nest and the next night I took her eggs and replaced them with the babies. She seems to love them now. She talks to them and puts them under her to keep them warm. I have a heat lamp on one side of the run just in case and I've checked on them all day, but for all intents and purposes she seems happy to have babies... but I don't know if the chicks are eating. I have food and water like, less than a foot from the hen, and I've never pegged chickens as stupid before, but when I moved the food within pecking distance this evening, the mom ate. Which makes me wonder if she's gotten up at all to feed her babies. I thought once she hatched them she'd be up and about again, taking them with her.

    Does anyone have any ideas? I'm worried that if I take them from her again it'll not only be traumatic for everyone, but that she might not accept them now. When should I start to worry, really? Because the chicks were quiet beneath her when I came in, and then when the other birds went into their side of the coop, they were peeping strong and looking out from underneath mom.

    The only things I can think are maybe she's too cold? I worry about moving the lamp close to her because I don't want mom to overheat. Can anyone give me a hand? I've always raised chicks in a brooder and I'm really nervous now [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
  2. Grub Digger

    Grub Digger Chillin' With My Peeps

    192
    14
    66
    Jan 5, 2016
    Middle TN
    How old are the chicks? They can go a couple days without food. Our broody Lenny gave all her eggs 2 days after the first one hatched before she took everyone out of the nest to get food, she hatched out 3 batches of chicks this year. As long as the chicks can get to the food and water, they should be ok.
     
  3. LLCoyote

    LLCoyote Chillin' With My Peeps

    191
    7
    93
    May 24, 2011
    The chicks are just under a week old now. And I know they ate yesterday before I put them under her.
     
  4. bullets

    bullets Chillin' With My Peeps

    967
    124
    131
    Jul 10, 2016
    Camdenton, Missouri

    When a broody hatches chicks she waits usually a day or two before bringing them off the nest. It's to give a chance for all eggs to hatch and for chicks to dry and fluff. The chicks andre designed to live off their yolks during this time. Your broody thinks she hatched them and is giving them time before bringing them off the nest. If the food is close I wouldn't get too worried until maybe the end of day tomorrow.
     
  5. silkie1472

    silkie1472 Chillin' With My Peeps

    355
    32
    74
    Dec 28, 2016
    [​IMG]

    My hen hatched eight chicks and all that I had to do was take her babies out of the nest, put them on the ground, and then I took her and put her with them. She instantly began trying to feed them, then they all went back to the nest box at night.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,960
    2,950
    421
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Try sprinkling the chick crumbles on the ground in front of the nest. The chicks will come out, get curious, see the food scattered on the ground, and start pecking and scratching, which is instinct behavior. The broody hopefully will see them scratching around in front of her, and get up off the nest and begin to teach her chicks.

    Be warned. Not all broodies are good mamas. Yours is inexperienced, and it's a tossup whether she will make the grade. Keep an eye out that the chicks are eating and drinking on their own. Don't take the chicks away unless the broody starts attacking them.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,744
    2,375
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Simply make certain feed and water present at least two feet from nest. If heat lamp / light source to be used, then direct it at food and water rather than the hen / nest site. To assess whether chicks feeding, handling them to check for crop fill. At one week of age crop fill should be easy to detect. Chicks have already exhausted yolk reserves so they are not able to go two days without feeding like younger chicks can.
     
  8. bullets

    bullets Chillin' With My Peeps

    967
    124
    131
    Jul 10, 2016
    Camdenton, Missouri
    Do you have any updates? Are momma and chicks doing well? Eating and drinking?
     
  9. LLCoyote

    LLCoyote Chillin' With My Peeps

    191
    7
    93
    May 24, 2011
    The update is good!!! Thank you for all your advice, guys! She could not be more over the moon to have her babies. She walks around and talks to them and everyone is eating and drinking. Everyone just seems so happy! They went outside for the first time today for a little while (I'm still a little scared it's too chilly). I made the mistake of trying to move them myself and let me tell you, I won't ever try to touch her babies again. The hen lost her mind! The other birds have met them once or twice and no one seems to care. So happiness all around!!! This couldn't have ended better!
     
  10. bullets

    bullets Chillin' With My Peeps

    967
    124
    131
    Jul 10, 2016
    Camdenton, Missouri
    That's really good to know. I'm glad to hear it. Sounds like she's going to be a great mommy. :]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by