Moving a broody and her eggs...


Jul 12, 2017
If you remember, I had a hen go broody after hurricane Florence. I decided to let her incubate 14 eggs and so far she has done great! However, we’re about 4-5 days from expected hatching and I need to move the eggs to a safer location for the chicks cuz they are up too high and navigating the ramp could prove fatal. I set up a good area nearby and carefully moved the eggs while the hen was doing her daily stretch and feeding. She is . I cleaned the old nest area out - which needed to be done anyway due to a broken egg and blocked the hut so she she wouldn’t try to sit on the empty nest. I showed her where the eggs are, but she is resistant to sitting there. How long should I wait before moving the eggs back? She’s not happy that she can’t get into her nesting area, so I feel like she will return if I move the eggs back and open it.
Personally I would put the eggs back in the original nest. After hatching, you can gently put momma and chicks to a lower level where they cannot fall. This is exactly how I used to hatch with broodies and never once did I have any issues.

Good luck whatever you choose to do
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Woo-hoo! About the time I went out to see about moving them back, she climbed into the new nest and sat on the eggs. I think we’re good!
I've seen a broody hen get chicks out of a 10' high hay loft. She said jump and they did, then bounced up and ran to her. My hens regularly hatch in nests that are over 3 feet from the coop floor and have no problems getting their chicks to the coop floor. I do not have ramps and do not fear height when they hatch.

I did have a problem one time with chicks falling out. A hen hatched in a cat litter bucket that had an opening of 7-1/2" x 11-1/2". That was too small. Baby chicks that hatch first often like to climb up on top of Mama while waiting for later chicks to hatch. In that nest, which was 4' off the coop floor, the chicks missed the nest when they fell off of Mama's back. I had to put chicks back in with Mama three different times because of that. It did not hurt the chicks and I retired that nest after the hatch. I don't know how high your nests are, how big they are, or what they look like.

I see you posted while I was typing so I won't tell you how I move a broody hen. Hopefully the move sticks for you. Keep an eye on her in case she does not always go back to that nest. If you run into problems let us know.
So I had a total of 3 eggs that hatched successfully of the 14. I might have had a better success rate had the overnight temp not dipped down to 40 degrees Saturday night. Brrr! But unfortunately, par for the course in North Carolina. She was not sitting on the eggs all day and night like before but got protective whenever I went to check on them. I thought no more would hatch, but when I did check two tapped back at me so i left them all there. I found that she was culling the nest on her own and ejecting bad eggs. By last Saturday one was a week old and the two tappers had hatched sometime in the preceding 24 hrs. Mama moved the hatched babies from the nest to directly under the heat lamp - I thought maybe because she found it easier to move the babies then eject the remaining bad eggs. But another apparently pipped that day or night and baby froze before it could absorb the yolk and finish hatching. Under the lamp the early hatcher climbed on her back to get optimal heat both from mama and the lamp and fared quite well. The newly hatched babies either couldn't get up there or were bullied off by the other and did not fare so well under mama's wing, she had dug through the pine bedding and had them standing on cold bare dirt. I found them Sunday morning sprawled in the dirt apparently dead from the cold. When I picked one up, she took a deep breath and moved a little. I went into emergency chick rescue mode and got her inside to warm up. The other, I'm sad to say, had already expired. To my surprise my cold chick first aid was successful: I placed her in a basket on top of a radiator next to a window in the sun where she could warm quickly but not cook. Within a few minutes she was shivering and moving around a bit and even peeping ('beeping' as my son says). By early afternoon she was up and around, eating and drinking, and very happy. She has since been re-homed to a friend eagerly awaiting her new baby where she will likely be an indoor pet - certainly for the winter (probably for life knowing my friend!)

Mind you, I went into this experience knowing it was the completely WRONG time of year for chicks and really did not expect a successful hatch of any, let alone three. But I had the friend on standby ready to take any that hatched. She lives in an apartment and can't have a rooster so I had planned on handing them off as soon as they hatched and if any turned out to be males, I would take them back. I did not expect them to hatch at a rate of 1-2 per WEEK as it seemed to be happening. Lesson learned there.

This leaves the one early hatcher that seems to have taken life by the horns, wrestled it to the ground, and pecked it's eyes out - by the way HE has been identified as a rooster and is already quite feisty. Mama is extremely protective of him. I am now faced with the dilemma of keeping him warm this winter - or rather - helping mama keep him warm this winter. I do not trust the heat lamp to be efficient enough to do the job in freezing temperatures and I cannot move baby, or mama and baby inside for the duration. (A small matter of two cats, two dogs, and a 5 year old.) When he's big enough, he might be chicken fricassee, but for now he's an adorable ball of yellow fluff.

I found an outdoor heated cat house online - apparently designed for feral cats. It is ordered and hopefully will be delivered before our expected low of 34 degrees Wednesday night of next week. If not, it should be here before our expected low of 28 that following Saturday. (Crazy cold for this time of year!) The problem is, I have to unplug the warming lamp to plug in the house. Based on the reviews, the house does not get hot, in fact it doesn't get very warm, just warm enough to combat the cold of the ground. So if the heated house and lamp need to work at the same time I can make that happen but I can't put the lamp inside the house for a couple of reasons: 1) the house is too small, even if I could put it in there with Mama and baby without risking them getting cooked or injured - from what I can tell it is made of nylon so 2) there is a fire/melt hazard. There are two doors though to prevent a cat from getting trapped inside by a predator. But i'm afraid I'd have to put the lamp down low to point it in on of the doors - risking it falling into the pine bedding and igniting - or being low enough for mama or baby to get burned by it.

I'm considering putting the heated house inside the hutch that I moved her out of before hatching - if I can arrange it so at least one of the doors line up the wooden structure should help retain warmth, if not I'm open to dissecting the nylon house to get the heater out and putting it in the hutch which can be modified to accommodate the lamp safely if also necessary. Baby has enough feathers in his wings that he can now "fall with style" to get out of the hutch. Next time, if there is one, I'll leave the eggs in the hutch and let mama get them up and down. I'll just make sure there's a thick pile of pine bedding at the bottom for them to land softly if they fall.

Any suggestions on winter warmth for chicks would be appreciated. Any chinks in the armor of my game plan would be received well too as I'm flying by the seat of my pants on this one.

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