My silkie hen is broody (first time) for less than 1 week, will she adopt chicks?

silkie snow pea

Hatching
Sep 28, 2020
3
5
8
Hello everyone,

First time poster here .. long time reader.

Seeking some advice, has anyone successfully raised day old chicks in a similar situation to this?

- I currently have 6 silkie eggs within an incubator and they are due to hatch in approximately 4 days.
- my young Silkie hen has just become broody for the first time. She has been laying eggs for only about 6 weeks.
- by the time my eggs hatch, she will have been broody for 5 days.
- she is very docile and whilst she sits on the eggs, if I put my hand near her, she doesn't become aggressive as hens usually do.

Taking all of the above into account, what are my chances of having her adopt these day old chicks? The lazy part of me would love this to happen!

I'm thinking to give it a go, and if I can see any aggressive behaviour toward the chicks, to then grab them and revert back to Plan A (raising them in an artificial brooder).

Just want to hear some thoughts on how successful you think I may be.
 

AngelaY

Songster
May 22, 2020
197
505
146
Washington state
I think that would be a great idea! Maybe you could put the eggs under her a day or two before they hatch so that she thinks that she did it all by herself, I think it would go a lot smoother that way
 

silkie snow pea

Hatching
Sep 28, 2020
3
5
8
Thanks for that! Unfortunately a further complicating matter is that I'm not incubating the eggs myself .. they are with a friend who has my eggs along with their 12 eggs of their own. Would it be risky to pick them up and transport them (at around the 19 /20 day mark) to my broody hen (they would be out of the incubator for about 30 minutes while I transport them)?
 

AngelaY

Songster
May 22, 2020
197
505
146
Washington state
I've never hatched eggs un an incubator, so that might be different but if they were being sat on by a broody chicken then the she could get up and walk around for a few hours and the eggs would be just fine.
It would probably be safer for the eggs if they hatched before being transported, it's just more likely that your mama hen will adopt the eggs than the babies. If you put the babies in correctly then it will go perfectly, but the mama hen won't accept them if you do it wrong. I've found a method that has worked well for me several times with new mothers though. I'd be happy to share it. whichever way you decide to do it will probably work out, one is better for the mama, and one is better for the babies, but neither one would be bad for anyone in my opinion.
 

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
1,698
2,763
261
Southwestern Pennsylvania
I wouldn't risk it unless you can be there to monitor her continuously for a few hours to ensure she isn't going to hurt them. Being broody only so briefly, it is a big risk to give her chicks. Her biological clock hasn't been running long enough.
 

AngelaY

Songster
May 22, 2020
197
505
146
Washington state
I wouldn't risk it unless you can be there to monitor her continuously for a few hours to ensure she isn't going to hurt them. Being broody only so briefly, it is a big risk to give her chicks. Her biological clock hasn't been running long enough.
Oh yeah, I forgot about the whole timing thing... it might just be better to give her some eggs to incubate and hatch by herself. The times that adoption has worked for me, the timer was already up. The timer was about half way through the one time it didn't work though... the safest thing for both the mama and the babies would probably be to give her some new eggs.
 

silkie snow pea

Hatching
Sep 28, 2020
3
5
8
Hi all, just to give you an update all for future reference to those of you who are thinking to attempt the same thing as me.

2 of the eggs hatched in the incubator but unfortunately the other 4 eggs were stillborns (meaning they didn't pip and died in the egg). We waited until day #25 for them to pip and then gave up hope.

Which meant that the 2 chicks were 4-days old when I collected them and decided to sneak them under my broody (who had been broody for 7 days at that stage) at night (and take away her fake eggs).

I woke up early the next morning at dawn to monitor the interaction between the broody and her 2 adopted chicks. (I also cordoned them off from the rest of the flock in case there was any jealousy from the other hens). At first there was a lot of awkwardness and the broody didn't show the chicks any love for the first 30 mins or so, she was too busy walking around trying to find where her eggs had all gone. In hindsight perhaps I should have left a few eggs with her.

Anway, after about 30 mins they started to interact and show a bit of love to each other, the chicks standing next to her (but not really cuddling) and my broody was importantly not showing any signs of aggression despite the little amount of love she was giving.

But after about 1 hour the chicks were kissing her beak and snuggling under her warm tummy. I kept on checking in throughout the day and she was sitting on them and keeping them warm the whole time.

Day #2 and all is going very well, she is breaking up food for them into smaller pieces and doing the friendly mama sound saying "come over here and eat this". Lovely to watch.

I've attached a photo of the chicks. They are both silkies. 1 of them we have named "tiger" as it has a distinctive tiger like pattern running along its back.

Lesson learnt: first time broody hen, and she had only been broody for 7 days, was successfully able to become a good mum to 2 little silkie chicks.

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