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Need advice on first time mama hens/baby chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mamabokbok, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. mamabokbok

    mamabokbok Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi everyone!

    We have had TWO hens broody and sharing a nest together, they sit side by side and share each others eggs, occasionally one will get off to eat etc but majority of the time they are together in the nest box, there is no fighting etc I don't know how common this is? Anyway Today we actually discovered a brand new baby chick (unsure how many more there might be under the mums, there is definitely more eggs)

    I want to leave the chicks with a mum to raise, My worry are that the nest box is attached to the roosting area that the other chicken and rooster sleep in (and poop in every night, we remove the tray and clean it which leaves no floor there while the tray dries, meaning a place for chicks to fall too) which would be the place for water and food to be put to be best accessible to the chicks, other than actually outside in the run, this isn't as clean or private as a brooder could be?

    one of the mama hens has been ill with some kind of eye/respiratory problem, It gets better and worse but never fully clears up and I don't know what to do about it or if she should be near the baby chicks with this? It's been ongoing since day one, The other adults don't suffer the same thing so I don't know if it would be contagious to baby chicks :-(

    there is small places that the tiny chicks could escape the yard if they free range with the others (a bloody rat I've seen gets in and out through these cracks they are very small, but nothing else can fit/dig under) would they go far from their mum or try things they don't get shown is safe, like leaving the coop? And also prey birds that would take the tiny chicks are regularly visiting.. also speaking of the rat, would it harm the babies?

    I have a dog crate that I used to raise baby chicks before (it worked, the dada is one of them) and I was wondering if it would be better if I set this up as a nest and transferred the mum that isn't under the weather, the eggs and babies into this crate and if so what advice how/where to set it up best so she's happy and how to best transfer her without problems? I could create an enclosed nest box to put inside out of something OR cover the majority of the crate just leaving ventilation like the coop?

    Also, if I move them should I keep the crate closed or open it through the day for her to choose to free range? It's not a large crate, it's actually for a 'medium' dog like I had a bull terrier sleep in this crate by choice, but she was very cozy in there, it's bigger than the nest box they are in now which fits the two sharing together with extra space, so would be more than enough for her to nest and food/water to be placed in but I think it could work for new baby chicks to get a safe start?

    Also the weather here is HOT and dry Australian summer, most days get between 33-40oC (or up to 104 Fahrenheit?) Animals die fast without food/ water in this weather so I'm really concerned about them having very easy access and no competition for water, this is the main reason I am worried for them I think? Otherwise I could take the chicks inside and hand raise, but I really rather not, but if for some reason I do, my house is even hotter inside than out so would I even need a light on for them in this heat if I did or?

    Also just for fun - They are Bantam sized mix breed (mums are a buff pekin and a black mystery mix, dads a white with grey/Orange (splash colored?) Wynedotte, He was white and grey as a chick. The chick that hatched is yellow with darker more orange head and came out of the Pekin egg, anyone have an idea about what the baby might look like grown up?

    any advice asap please? Thank you
     
  2. holm25

    holm25 Jr Chicken Wrangler

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    OK first off the rat will kill babies!! Believe me I learnt this the hard way!! And second what I would do is take one hen and put her in the crate with the babies and as chicks jatch jusy give them to the one hen and eventually just leave some for the other. I personally like to free range mamas with babies but many disagree with that. Make sure they have plenty of water. I would have 1-2 water set out in the yard. Food isn't as big of a necessity as water but it is good to have it available. And whatever the hen has with her eye issue I dont think will harm the chick.

    Now I am from Minnesota so the climate/predators are quite different. This is what I do.
     
  3. FatChicksDigMe

    FatChicksDigMe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can you somehow put a rat trap in or around the coop that you can be sure the chickens can't access... I am more worried about that guy spreading disease or eating your new babies:(
     
  4. mamabokbok

    mamabokbok Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] This is a photo of the situation. Poor pekin girl looks awful, she isn't 100% and won't come out to look after her self just wants to stay on the nest. The black girl is very healthy, but she's not a friendly hen she will run away and struggle to be held so I'm worried how much she would freak out if I tried to move her, I don't want to close out the other 3 from their roosting area which is attached, should I leave them all alone to do what they have been doing or try to set the black hen up in a private, shady area in the yard with the babies, I'm really unsure [​IMG] if I do try to move them I'll do it at night, but I don't want her to be unhappy when she realises she's been moved if I do? So confusing what's best? Would she move herself and the babies back to the coop if she doesn't like where I put her?
     
  5. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Howdy mamabokbok

    You have received some great advice to date and I probably will not be able to add much, if any more. However, I will go through your questions and respond with some thoughts, not necessarily answers, but maybe suggestions.

    While not the norm, co-broodys are also not rare and many chicks are uneventfully raised by two mumma’s.

    I wanted to let my broody hen raise her chicks with the rest of the flock on my first hatch but unfortunately fights for favourite nest boxes etc was putting the chicks in danger so I now have the ability to split the coop and run when I have a broody. As it turned out though, I had two hens on eggs at the same time and one was already in the broody section so I quickly fashioned an area for mumma and bubs using a rabbit hutch and some temporary fencing. Note: I do not have a predator problem and I work from home so I am able to race out if there is an issue. Also, the hutch can be closed up at night and is secure on the off chance that a fat neighbourhood cat wanders in. My biggest threat would be a Crow and the shade cover takes care of that:

    [​IMG]

    Separating your hen and bubs does mean you then have the added task of integrating them back into the main flock when older whereas if they are with the main flock from day 1, no integration necessary. Whether you move or leave them can come down to flock dynamics and also, how much space you have.

    I agree that if the issue with your hen’s eye has been going on for a while and it has not been passed onto the others, the chicks are probably going to be OK. However, there is always the risk that the older chickens may be immune and the chicks are not.

    Definitely get the rat problem sorted ASAP as yes, he will kill your chicks. Moving them may be the right move because if you do not catch him and you can make their new position safe, they are away from his reach.

    I have moved a hen and her chicks during the day because of squabbles for the nest box etc and as long as she had her bubs with her, she was happy. Note: I did not move her far and she was actually still in sight of the main coop and run.

    I have found that my broody’s are quite happy with their chicks in an enclosed area for the first couple of weeks but then they start to get antsy and want more room. As long as she has somewhere to wander with them and teach them to scratch and hunt etc, she should be happy.

    Yep, it has been hot! Personally I think that is another good reason to move them as the heat can be stressful for all concerned and cause additional squabbles and as you so rightly mentioned, they need access to water without the risk of being cut off or bullied. Also, depending on the water supply device you are using for your larger birds, there may be a risk of the chicks drowning in it.

    Me, if I had a non friendly hen and a friendly hen as choices for raising chicks, I would choose the friendly hen. I have a hen who is friendly with me when she does not have chicks and a wonderful mother but carries on like you would not believe if I go to change the water, feed them etc when she has chicks. I will not let her have another hatch as she raises neurotic, flighty babies. One of my other friendly hens, while still a good mother and protective of her babies, does not freak out at every opportunity and her bubs grow up to be calm and friendly also.

    I hope that helps and good luck with whichever path you decide to go down and please let us know how it works out for you.
     
  6. mamabokbok

    mamabokbok Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yeah I'm quite worried about the chickens getting trapped or poisoned themselves [​IMG] I'm unsure where to put a trap. They have been around way before I had chickens, my neighbour is a feral hoarder so they mostly stay over in that house but every now and then I do see one run through [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] I try not to leave food out I only put down little bits through the day, they are gross, luckily never found any rodents in my house to date [​IMG] maybe I can get traps and put them down over night time but I reckon they would just keep coming every night how many would there be? Has to be a more effective way somehow [​IMG]
     
  7. mamabokbok

    mamabokbok Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks heaps. My thought was to create a seperate nest box, add food and the waterer to it (which is one of those dine-a-chook automatic waterers that is safe, the other water dishes etc are just small bowls, baking trays etc I have many scattered around that I fill in this heat, but for the chicks easy access I can't put a safe waterer in the coop without it being knocked over etc by the others [​IMG] so my thought was to seperate them to this crate but maybe also allow them to go in and out during the day like the others? The bossy mum was definitely the boss up until my rooster crowed, she's calm and quiet around all of the other chickens now even when they go in and chill next to her, they go in there throughout the day to rest sometimes (there is only 4 including the rooster in my flock) When we open the coop to look at her she's unphased and also I put my phone right up near her to take photos she didn't get cross, but she's not cuddly like the others to catch her is impossible without a fuss and she will struggle, she will hesitantly come eat from my hand if there are not other alternatives around and stand quite close to me when she's not broody, but yeah not a snuggle bok the pekin is happy to be picked up and cuddled, they grew up together and I didn't raise them I got them at POL [​IMG] so I'm unsure why, breed/genetics maybe? Luckily she's not a real problem in any way just not a very good 'pet' but I'm worried about the pekin mum needing to eat and drink normally again rather than wasting away on the nest, perhaps she would choose to move into the new nest box with the others anyway I don't know? I'm mostly concerned about the chicks access to food and water where they are. This rat issue makes me more worried that I should just take them inside the house though [​IMG][​IMG] I definitely will need to extend/get another coop for the future, especially if we keep some chicks, but I've been planning on that anyway (for situations such as this or if quarantine was needed or whatever I thought it would be good to have two seperate coops, but life gets in the way and this happened SO fast lol) so I've created an alternative nest box with the automatic waterer inside out of the crate and placed it under a table, under the carport which is only a few metres away from the main coop, it can be locked and also left open, the only issue with this I guess is if that bloody rat went to them! The birds that come will prey on baby chicks, but there is a trampoline, the coop, the car port, a tree and my rooster chases them away if they land in the yard so I guess I just have to cross fingers nothing happens. I'll be home most of the time with them as well. I suppose I'll move them and see how it goes. If she gets cross about it I guess she will just move them back [​IMG] hopefully they survive, I am super anxious about it being their first batch and my first experience!
     
  8. mamabokbok

    mamabokbok Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just bit the bullet and did it hey, I picked her up with a towel but she didn't fight me which was surprising [​IMG] we put the eggs (there are only 3 eggs, all pekin eggs?) in the new nest and then the baby chick in which is sooo adorable it has fluffy feet!!! And then her and she went had a drink and then ate and then sat on her eggs the baby climbed right underneath I think it went really well? The new nest is a storage box with a side cut off inside a slightly larger dog crate and just has enough room to nest and eat/drink inside.
     
  9. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    I have two hens, hatched here, same mum; one is confident and the other very skittish. However, the confident one is moving her way up the pecking order and the skittish one is still bottom of the pecking order. Being bottom is one of the reasons she remains skittish. There is no real bullying etc but the occasional reminder that she is bottom is enough to make her nervous .. no fun being on the bottom of the order [​IMG]

    Sounds like the move went well….congrats! If you are not giving any chicks to the remaining broody it will be best to break her or, as you suggested, she may sit on the eggs [or even an empty nest] and waste away. If you need any tips on breaking a broody, happy to help, just let me know. Having bantams, I have some experience with broodys [​IMG]

    I have to duck outside now to supervise free range but can reply later tonight.
     
  10. mamabokbok

    mamabokbok Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes please, I'd rather she stop and hopefully get well [​IMG] also I wonder if you know why, after all this time there is only 4 eggs? They are all the pekin eggs, the black one usually would lay every day and she's been broody for much longer but never even laid one egg
     

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