Need additional heat for 16 babies under 1 mama hen? temp in 20s

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by MontanaHippyChic, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. MontanaHippyChic

    MontanaHippyChic New Egg

    Jun 8, 2010
    I have a very brave little mama hen who set her babies out in the 'wild'! (See story below.....) She has 16 babies that I've moved to our small coop and locked in. It's getting quite cold here at night down into the low to mid 20s with snow predicted soon. Will I need to give additional heat for her with so many babies? She's a very young (5.5 mos) first time mama, but has been doing great so far. She set on 19 eggs and hatched 16! Pretty good odds...especially if you read her story below.

    This is a hen we picked up at a feed store as an 'add on' and she was scraggly and the last of the bunch. She was a week or so older than my other chicks at the time, but as soon as we brought her home, she was trying to mother the other chicks by pulling them under her, so we always said she'd be a good mama.....little did we know! And a few weeks later when we got banty chicks, we left her in the brooder to 'mother' them and she at about 6 weeks old took her job seriously. Later we moved everyone outside and didn't think much about her mothering skills.

    We have a pretty big flock--about 80ish mostly 5-6 mo old hens who've been laying for only about 6-7 weeks/2 full size roos (Ameracauna and Buff Cochin)/3 turkeys/lots of 3-5 mo old bantams. They free range on our 1 acre of fenced property with an open a 5ish acre pasture behind that the chickens can 'escape' to if they wish. They liked going out there this late summer for all the grasshoppers, but I hadn't really noticed them heading out there much recently. We have 4 cats and a dog who also just range with them at will and we've not lost one to them as they all 'grew up' together and really seem to watch out for each other. The chickens all go 'home' at night to two different coops--one for full size and one for bantams--they do this all on their own, we don't have to separate them, it's so funny. My son equates our arrangement with the cats/chickens to having sharks at an keep them fed well enough with food they like and they won't eat the little fish. Ironically, they do catch and eat wild songbirds sometimes [​IMG] but they leave our parakeets indoors alone. How they figure it out, I don't know.

    So, we didn't notice that one of our dozen Dark Cornish hens was missing until our neighbor called and told us she saw one our black hens in the pasture with chicks. I thought she was teasing us as we have one hen in our small coop setting on a dozen eggs (but still at least 10 days off for chicks). So we ran out, and sure enough, there was one of 'ours' with SIXTEEN babies! We were SO shocked. This meant that she'd been outside, in the pasture, under a bush (we found her nest) setting on 19 eggs total for the last 3 weeks. We have all manner of predator here as we live out in the boonies and people around us routinely lose their full size chickens to coons, skunks, and even bobcats. Neighbors just a few miles away have been having problems with bears taking theirs as well. We've also already had snow, multiple days in a row of very cold and heavy rain, and nighttime temps in the 20s. I am just amazed that she not only survived, but set that many babies!!!!

    Here she is setting on them now in the coop--you can see one brave little (obviously buff cochin) baby on her back!


    So....thanks for reading about our brave little chicken.....and love to hear your advice on the heating situation with so many chicklets!
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    IMO they'll be fine now that they're in a dry place. They may take turns under her if they get chilled.
  3. Cynthia12

    Cynthia12 Always Grateful Premium Member

    Apr 11, 2010

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