NEED HELP! Worried about chicks hatching around other hens.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lilmama, Jul 2, 2011.

  1. lilmama

    lilmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 2, 2010
    Hi There.
    Here's the scoop:

    I put fertile eggs under a broody hen. She's been sitting on them for almost 21 days now. I'm very worried about them hatching though because another one of the hens always pushes the broody off her eggs and lays on them herself when she lays everyday. Very worried about there being chicks there instead of eggs when this happens!
    I don't have another place to put the broody hen. The only thing I can think of is putting the other hens outside and making them lay eggs in the bushes somewhere. Or putting them in the duck house when it's empty for the day??? They do love it in there, actually.
    ALSO: issue #2: The laying box where broody is sits about 3 feet off the ground. There is a ladder, and I guess she could force the chickies down it, but how will she get the chicks back up it every night?
    Thanks for your quick advice!
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Can you move the nestbox to ground level and then create a small enclosure or "yard" around it using hardware cloth and wood?

    You have to get creative and think outside the box sometimes.

    My broodies have all hatched in the coop, in large dog crates. However the crates are on the floor of the coop and have locking doors. I've found that locking the broody in with the chicks is only necessary for a few days, while mama gets her bearings. After that, mama hen is ready and able to defend her chicks just fine.

    You have to know your hen and whether or not she's capable.
     
  3. Gooter

    Gooter Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 19, 2010
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    Can you take a box that's about 10" x 12" and put some straw and/or pine shavings in it for her and put it on the floor? It should only be a few inches tall...just tall enough to hold her nest/eggs. And if it's on the floor there should be some pine shavings or something around it so that when the chicks climb/fall out they can get back in to get warm. I have been using plastic storage containers as nest boxes for my broodies and it works well for me. I keep a nice layer of pine shavings in the area and when all the chicks have hatched I remove the nest box. The hens seem to prefer to just be able to dig into the shavings, and it's easier for the chicks too.

    I've got a set of 3 week old chicks that my first broody hatched out and she is a fantastic mother. I put her in her own pen with her own little house that is all inside the main fenced yard. So all the other chickens could see her with the chicks for the first couple weeks. I bought her as a broody so she was never introduced to the flock till after she came out of the house when the chicks hatched. Under supervision I have let her and the chicks out for the past few days and the rest of the flock acted like they had been there all along. The dominant hen did put mamma hen in her place a time or two, but they have completely accepted her and are quite interested in the chicks.

    In the main coop I made a broody section and 'ended up' with a second broody that I rescued. Put her to work and the eggs have started hatching. In a couple days I'll open the door and let her mix with the rest of the flock. They are already used to little chicks zooming around under their legs so I feel pretty good about the integration. I was really relieved at how well it all has gone, and don't know how normal that is.

    That said, I DID have to relocate my one Silver Laced Wyandotte hen to live with one of my roosters away from the main flock. The first day I let mamma and chicks out she made a b-line for them and attacked mamma hen. She pecked at the chicks too...and she wasn't even the dominant hen. I've had it with SLWs now. I culled one for meanness (she killed my favorite hen) and lost another to some kind of digestive obstruction yesterday, and this one is the last I'll have. They're nice layers of great eggs, but the ones I've had are just too aggressive toward others. None of the hens I have now feel the need to torment anyone.

    Good luck. And please do get that hen down on the floor so her chicks will be safe.
     
  4. lilmama

    lilmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 2, 2010
    Thanks.
    I do have a box I can put her in. I tried to put her and the eggs in it one night when she was sleeping...like a nesting box but on the ground level- she never did stay in it, first thing the next a.m she just went and sat on nothing in the nesting box above, so I just put the eggs back under her up there. Beyond the other hens bothering her and the chicks- I'm more concerned the mama hen won't stay on the ground with them. Maybe after they hatch, she'll be more inclined to stay on the ground...?

    p.s. after the other hens lay, I can let them out and lock mama and chicks alone in the coop until rossting time. It's just getting thru the a.m with everyone in there.....
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2011
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Mama will stay with her chicks. If she prefers to go back to the nestbox that's raised off the floor and her chicks start peeping because they can't get up there, she'll go back to them unless she's just totally clueless about motherhood.

    I've seen it many times with my mama hens. Around 3 weeks old or so they start trying to teach the chicks how to roost. Mama flies up on the roost, but if the chicks are not yet capable of it and start peeping, Mama returns to the nest. She continues to try and teach them to fly up to roost every night, every other night or so, until finally the babies are able to make it up there.
    Rare is the broody that will ignore her peeping chicks.

    I've had a total of 14 chicks (4 clutches) raised in the coop, with the flock, so far this year. It's the natural order of things for chicks to be raised with their flock. Only one injury and that was caused by a meat bird that thought the chick was something to eat. I have one hen that's not overly fond of chicks. By a few days old the chicks all seem to know how to avoid her.

    Give mama a day or two to settle into motherhood and I think she and her chicks will be fine with the other chickens. Be on hand to intervene if you get one of those rare aggressive hen on chicks things, but most of the time mama does a fine job of teaching the other adults boundaries on how close they can get to her chicks.
     
  6. sheaviance1

    sheaviance1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 7, 2010
    Tennessee
    I just had the same dilemma. My hen brooded in the nestbox that is 4-1/2 feet off the ground. After her chicks had all hatched (2-7/1, 1-7/2) yesterday, I took them and put them in an old doghouse in the run. She liked her new apartment just fine, kept them inside it all day. I put a small waterer in with them and made them a pile of feed on the floor of it. She showed her chicks the feed, and then assumed the position right on top of it, I watched them eat up under her skirt. She had a lot of visitors at the apartment yesterday, everyone would come up to the door and peer inside. I only seen her chase off two hens. When I woke up this morning, she had her chicks in the run. I gave the older girls some scratch to lead them away from the chicks, but she brought them over there anyway to take part. The chicks were running in amongst all the other chickens. She seems to approve of her new digs just fine, so I am hoping that she will continue to use it as a brooder box. I do not have them segregated, but have material on the ready just in case it becomes necessary. I have one more broody with one egg hatched and one left to hatch. Her nestbox is about 2 feet off the ground. So far, both of my broodies have allowed me to handle their chicks with no problem. I think it must have something to do with me handfeeding them and hand watering them over the last three weeks. They seem to not see me as a threat at all. I have handled these chicks multiple times. [​IMG] I have an empty dog crate that I can use for the second momma, but in the meantime, I plan to just observe them interacting and see if I need to intervene at all. I am hoping that I won't have to.
     
  7. lilmama

    lilmama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 2, 2010
    Thanks so much sheaviance1. I think I will try and do the same thing. I'm sure, like most things, it's more worrisome to think about it and when it happens it won't be a big deal. [​IMG]
     

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