Need advice on moving a 'wild' hen and her nest

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chameleon, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    My neighbors had chickens a few years ago and then just 'set them free' when they didn't have time for them. Only 1 hen and 1 rooster survived, the rest were taken out by wildlife. The hen keeps losing her chicks within a day or two of hatching, so I rescued her last 3 chicks about 10 weeks ago, but wasn't equiped for keeping chickens at the time. Now I've built a large predator proof run and coop for them and was going to move the hen in as soon as the chicks are big enough to defend themselves (I free range them when I'm supervising and she bullies them if they get too close).

    But now she's sitting on eggs again and her nest is out in a field and only semi sheltered. I want to move her into the run so she'll be safe from predators and the weather (we're also expecting heavy rain over the next two days). I've fenced off and prepared a section of the run for her, but I need advice on the best way to move her. She is not tame at all and I don't want to cause her unnecesary stress.

    For now I have two ideas:

    1. Move her whole nest into the run at night
    But I'm worried that it will stress her too much and she'll abandon her eggs.

    2. Wait for the eggs to hatch and then move her with her chicks
    I could just hope for the best and move them after they hatch, but as I mentioned there is a big storm coming and lots of predators around. And I also don't know how I would catch her, she's very wary of people.

    Sorry for the long story, I just thought it might help to understand the circumstances.

    *UPDATE*
    I couldn't cover her where she was, the space was too awkward. I would have had to build a full size run around her and it would have gotten in the way of our landlord's farming. We also had heavy rain the whole afternoon with no sign of ending any time soon and when I went to check on her her tail end was soaked. So as soon is it was completely dark I carefully moved her and her 11 eggs into a nest box I made for her and then into the covered run. She stayed reasonably calm, so now I'm waiting for morning and hoping for the best.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  2. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal Chicken Obsessed

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    Get some gloves and move her with the nest. Best time to do it is at night. Do you have any idea how long she has been on the eggs?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  3. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    I don't know exactly but I'd guess about a week and a half.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Moving her prior to pipping stage likely to cause her to abandon clutch. Biggests concern I would have associated with ground predators. I routinely have have broodies in field so cover them at night with a pen that is propped up early in the morning and put down at dusk.

    See pen used below. You do not need to be so eleborate. You can even take a partial roll of fencing and make a circle around her. Make so she is at least 2 feet away from perimeter.
    [​IMG]


    Could you post a pic of the adults?
     
  5. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the great idea! She's in a really awkward space up against my landlord's water tank, but I'll see if I can improvise something like that.

    I don't have any great pics of them, especially the hen because she's so skittish. In the first pic she's behind the fence
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    They look like Game (Fighting Chickens) where hen looks like she has naked neck of some sort mixed in. Unless you have some powerful might issues. To tame, try providing some live meal worms. Hen will bring chicks to you for those which will help tame chicks without separating them from mother.
     
  7. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'll try that. I've already got the rooster eating out of my hand but the hen waits for me to stand back. She's definitely got some naked neck in her. 2 of the last chicks she had were also naked neck.
     
  8. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi everyone, thanks again for all the advice. As I mentioned in my update, I had to move the hen. She stayed in the nest the whole day yesterday, only got up once mid afternoon to eat and poop, then when straight back to her eggs [​IMG] She's a really dedicated mamma.

    I just have one more question though. She doesn't cover all the eggs properly, I think there are too many. Would it be too much of a risk to disturb her again to candle the eggs and remove the bad ones? Should I just let her do her thing and see what happens?
     
  9. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    I'd be inclined to remove the duds. Too many eggs can result in a lower hatch rate, as she will move them around and this could result in many of the eggs not being incubated properly. It's best to do this when she gets off the nest as it will reduce stress on her, and mean that your hands don't get pecked!
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. chameleon

    chameleon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks, that's what I was thinking too. Would it be better to do it at night or keep an eye on her and do it when she gets up? She would be able to see me from the run.
     

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