New to Chickens - Broody Hen with Chicks

Zefra

In the Brooder
Nov 23, 2021
7
43
34
Hi everyone. I'm a new chicken keeper. I bought chicks from Tractor Supply Spring of 2021. I have a flock of 15 hens made up of 4 Buff Orpington, 3 Jersey Giant, 3 Light Brahams, 3 Leghorn, 1 Barred Rock, 1 RI Red, 1 Buff Orpington Rooster (the boss), 1 Light Brahma Rooster (he runs from boss, but mates with hens every chance he gets). I'm having such fun with them. One Buff Orpington decided to go broody. She sat on eggs for 2 weeks, then switched (I think) to another nesting box and those eggs were removed. We found half grown chicks.

She then sat on another bunch of eggs .. and low and behold, 4 chicks hatched! I moved the momma with 6 eggs and 4 chicks inside in my tubs I used to raise the first batch. Mom is sitting diligently. I bring finely chopped broccoli in a shallow cat dish and mom clucks to the chicks, they come running and feeds them. She's a dedicated mom. Chicks are doing great. I have medicated chick feed for them. Mom is eating chick feed as well, and I bring treats for her.

I read about staggered hatching. I have no idea when the other 6 eggs she's sitting on were laid.

She seems content to sit on the eggs, the babies run around, eat, and snuggle under her.

I bought an incubator -- should I incubate the eggs, and put mom and chicks back outside in a seperated area in the coop with the flock, then when those eggs hatch, put them in with her? Or, should I keep everyone inside until the 6 eggs hatch?

I handled the mom since she was young, she's not aggressive with me. I pet her, bring her food, she seems happy as things are. I know at some point she needs to go with the chicks back to the flock. I'm in upstate NY, the weather is in the 30s. My coop is well buit and insulated (I converted a shed with a concrete floor). I have an oil-filled heater I could put out there with them in the separate area.

I'm thrilled to have a broody who is being such a good mom. I'd like to raise more chicks like this.

What should I do? Any suggestions?
 

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DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
Premium Feather Member
Jul 23, 2018
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This is the reason broodies need to be managed and the eggs all marked at the beginning of setting them under the broody.
You don't need the heat source on the mother and the chicks already have a heat source. I would remove the heat from her immediately.
I would leave the eggs with her to see what she may hatch out until she abandons them to raise her brood, then put the rest of the viable eggs in the incubator. You will have to raise any of late hatchers from the bator yourself.
If you get any late hatchers from mom, I would wait until the latest one to hatch is at least 4 days old before returning her and the brood to the coop and when you do, give her a partitioned area in which to stay with her brood for a few days before removing the partition for her to take the chicks into the flock. Make sure all means of getting in and out of the coop are chick navigable.
The late hatchers from mom will be too late to keep up with her and the other chicks if you move her out to the coop now.
If you move mom and the chicks out now and incubate the remaining viable eggs and try to give the resulting chicks to mom, she may not accept them and even if she does, they will have difficulty keeping up with the rest of the brood.
Next time a broody kicks off this late in the year, break her instead and let her brood in the spring or summer when the weather is more conducive to raising chicks.
 

Zefra

In the Brooder
Nov 23, 2021
7
43
34
This is the reason broodies need to be managed and the eggs all marked at the beginning of setting them under the broody.
You don't need the heat source on the mother and the chicks already have a heat source. I would remove the heat from her immediately.
I would leave the eggs with her to see what she may hatch out until she abandons them to raise her brood, then put the rest of the viable eggs in the incubator. You will have to raise any of late hatchers from the bator yourself.
If you get any late hatchers from mom, I would wait until the latest one to hatch is at least 4 days old before returning her and the brood to the coop and when you do, give her a partitioned area in which to stay with her brood for a few days before removing the partition for her to take the chicks into the flock. Make sure all means of getting in and out of the coop are chick navigable.
The late hatchers from mom will be too late to keep up with her and the other chicks if you move her out to the coop now.
If you move mom and the chicks out now and incubate the remaining viable eggs and try to give the resulting chicks to mom, she may not accept them and even if she does, they will have difficulty keeping up with the rest of the brood.
Next time a broody kicks off this late in the year, break her instead and let her brood in the spring or summer when the weather is more conducive to raising chicks.
Hi .. chicks are doing well. I moved them outside to the coop in their own little 4x4 pen for a week. Now they are running around with the flock. I leave their chick feed in the pen, open just enough the chicks can get into it. Roosters are protective, hens mostly ignore the chicks. Woe to the hen that pecks at momma's babies!

On nice days the chicks come out of the coop and run with mom, when we had snow the flock went out but mom and chicks stayed in the coop. They are growing fast!
 

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