New to chickens & I've got myself a broody hen... now what do I do?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by serendipityfarm, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. serendipityfarm

    serendipityfarm Songster

    Mar 28, 2010
    So, I've done some reading, I know the basics, I think, but would appreciate some advice.

    My hen, of course the only one I had old enough to be laying, is a Silkie. She's on 2 eggs. She has been going outsie every day and all appears to be going well. I candled the 2 eggs last week and there is definitely development, so I would guess they will be due to hatch in about 10 days or so. I will check them again, as I did find one out of the nest when I came home one day, but I don't know for how long.

    My questions are more about separating mom and baby (ies) from the rest of the flock. Mrs. Broody is the oldest of our flock, probably about a year old, and all the others are 5 months or younger. I have 4 LF and a bunch of bantam Cochins, all of which are scared of Mrs. Broody. (She's always been grouchy even if she isn't "leadership" material). Is it safe to leave her in the flock with her chick(s) and assume she'll protect them? If not, since she seems to be content where she is, when is it best to move her? Should I move her to a separate area or maybe just a cage within the coop? Is re-introducing her going to be a problem? She didn't really give me time to think this all through before making the decision to hatch some more chicks. I didn't collect the egg ONE day...

    The other chicks are on Start & Grow, but unmedicated. Should I get medicated for the new babies? I'd hate to buy 25lbs of feed for one or two chicks. I switched to unmedicated because I found the medicated grew mold in the run anywhere it had spilled. I havent had the same problem w/the un-medicated. I was thinking it was something like the overgrowth of yeast(fungi) you can get when you use antibiotics. Anyway that's another topic, isn't it?

    Thanks folks! You guys always have great advice!
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    First, I suggest you read these two threads to see if they answer most of your questions. I'll subscribe to your thread and check back later (probably tomorrow) if you have any more questions.

    Isolate a Broody? Thread

    Raise with flock? thread

    I never use medicated feed. As long as your brooder, coop, or run are not icky with wet manure, you will probably not have a problem with cocci, which is what the "medicated" is all about. There is a strain of cocci that is extremely strong, so if you have a history with that strain it is a different situation, but I just don't see a real reason to use medicated feed unless you have a history that calls for it. Some people obviously disagree with me and medicate their chicks like they were being raised in the crowded commercial conditions, but I treat my chicks better than that and don't have a problem with cocci or other diseases, at least not yet.

    Good luck!
  3. serendipityfarm

    serendipityfarm Songster

    Mar 28, 2010
    Thanks! Those were actually very helpful.
    I would love to let her raise them in with the flock and I thik because of the fact that all the other chickens steer clear of the Grouch for the most part, it may be feasible. I will watch closely and separate them if necessary. I have a feeling only 1 of the 2 eggs is viable now, so that may help too, if she only has one baby to mind.
    Thanks again!

    Oh, and I raised my babies on medicated chick starter and have never had chickens here before, so I would guess the chances of having a coccidia problem is slim. Does that make sense?
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    My broodies (two sisiters, and they share the chicks) stayed in the coop, with the layers the whole time, when the actual hatch was going on, I did lock the layers out of the coop over one night. And I have been letting the layers free range during the day, so that there is a bit more space. The first few days, I got down to the coop pretty early to let the layers out. I have to leave the run door open, so as all can get water. But for the first few days the mama hens kept the chicks in either the coop or the run, they moved them to shade. It is quite hot. Then at night, they settle the chicks fairly early in a nest on the floor of the coop, and then I lock the layers in the run, and they all roost together.

    Today, it was about 9:00 before I got down to the coop. The eggs hatched Wed/Thursday. The mama's and chicks were resting in a corner in the run, and no one was bothering them. They are big hens. When I threw down some scrap lettuce, they all came over, and a chick did get a little close to a layer, and got a peck on the head, but nothing dangerous, he quickly scampered behind mama, and mama moved a bit to put more chicks behind her.

    I put my hen feed, in a hubcap, that is elevated. And I put chick started in a little feeder and sprinkled on the ground. That should kind of keep the chicks out of the layer feed, and I really don't think it will hurt the hens to have a bit of starter. Mine are eating so many grasshoppers now, that they hardly eat the feed.

    Today, my mama's took the babies outside the run for a little free ranging, and started feeding them grasshoppers. Those little fuzz butts climbing over weeds and sticks, a huge adventure, but they are cleaner and stronger outside IMO. The mama's catching a big grasshopper would eat it, and little ones were given to the chicks, who had to struggle to get the whole thing down, but they loved them.

    I know each hen and each flock is different. I was taking a chance, however, I did not have a lot of space or other fencing, and I did not want reintroduction issues. I think that as my chicks grow, the pecking order will naturally emerge. I guess I am telling you that you don't have to seperate them if you don't want to.

    The big thing is to keep the other laying hens from laying in with the broody. Cause then you get too many eggs and they get cold, and your hatch rate is poor.

    Last edited: Aug 1, 2010

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