Newbie with question on hatching chicks with a broody hen.

arpacker

Hatching
7 Years
Aug 23, 2012
9
0
7
Hi there,

I've been reading lots of posts about hatching eggs with a broody hen. My broody is on day #14 of sitting on 7 eggs. She hasn't moved much at all and I've recently placed the water and food much closer to her. She doesn't get off the nest hardly at all from what I've seen and I haven't forced her to do so. I want to get ready for when these chicks arrive and would like any information you all may have about keeping the chicks in the coop. I'll post pictures of where I have the broody hen, so you can get an idea of what I have to deal with. Our nest boxes are elevated off the coop floor and when she decided to get broody, I moved her and her eggs to the area UNDER the nest boxes and placed some hardware cloth up so that the other hens wouldn't bother her. She probably has an area under there that's about 2ft wide and 4ft long. I have left an open area for her to get out from under there if she wants to take a walk, but I'm just not sure what the best way would be to keep the chicks in this area and still make it accessible to her without the other hens getting in. Should I just 'lock' the hen and the chicks under there for a few days after they hatch....not allowing any exit for my broody? We've on had our chickens since last August, so I'm really new at some of this stuff. I've read quite a bit lately and prefer keeping her/them in the coop with the other chickens.....BUT, I do want the chicks to be safe. So I'm looking for any helpful advice and would love to hear how others made out keeping their chicks with their flock? Thanks!! ~Amy




PS.....I have 12 Hens (2 Australorps, 2 Road Island Red, 2 Buff Orps, 2 Columbian Wyandottes, 2 Golden Buffs, 2 Plymouth Barred Rocks and a Faverolles rooster.
 
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Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
577
448
South Georgia
If she's not pooping in the nest, she is probably getting up once a day to eat, drink and poop. I would pick her up once to make sure the nest is not full of poop, because occasionally a broody won't get up at all, and they can starve to death. Actually I pick mine up once a day and prod them til they get some exercise and eat and drink. The food and water shouldn't be where she can reach them from the nest, IMO.

I separate a broody while she is setting but let her raise her chicks in with the flock. For a day or two after the first one hatches, she will keep them under her and they will live off their yolk -- but then she will want to take them out to show them where food and water are, and they will all want out of the broody pen, which is when I let them out. I've never had a chick killed by another flock member that I know of -- though I've only raised 6 or 7 batches of chicks this way. She should keep watch over her chicks and chase away anyone who comes too close. In some cases my roo has helped the mama with the chicks, and in others, more than one hen has helped with the mothering. When the mama decides she is through being a mama, the chicks are already accepted by the flock. They may hang around and even sleep off by themselves for a while, but they didn't get attacked.
 

arpacker

Hatching
7 Years
Aug 23, 2012
9
0
7
Thank you!! That is exactly what I was wanting to know! I will check her out today and look at the nest and move the food back some too. Our coop is raised up off the ground and there is a ramp for the chickens, will the chicks be ok to get back into the coop if they get out? I greatly appreciate your help/advice!! We are new at this stuff. :)
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
577
448
South Georgia
The chicks should do fine on a ramp. You might want to supervise at first, but they should get it. Unless mama decides they need to sleep in the run.... Sometimes my chicks gathered and then mama covered them, and sometimes she made a place and called them.

I should mention, there isn't a "right" way to do it, this is just what I've done. Some people separate the mama and chicks. Maybe I was lucky with my broodies. Obviously, this is the "natural" way, and also the way "old timers" who just had an open coop and a free range flock did it. I might be a little more careful if I'd spent lots of money on a few hatching eggs!
 

arpacker

Hatching
7 Years
Aug 23, 2012
9
0
7
Thanks again! I prefer this 'natural' method. The eggs she's sitting on aren't anything but my flocks 'everyday' eggs. I really wasn't in the market for more chickens, but she was very insistent on sitting. So we thought why not let her this time and I thought it would be fun for my daughter too. I really didn't want to get into a lot of extra time and $$ with it, so I figured we'd just let Mamma do what she feels is right and go from there. However, the more I read the more I started to worry that we'd go through all this waiting and end up not protecting the chicks well enough. So, I'm gonna hope for the best! I'm getting excited for the hatching!!
 
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