Placing day olds under a broody hen - questions about isolation and feeding

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by TheMKs, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. TheMKs

    TheMKs New Egg

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    Mar 14, 2011
    Northern Colorado
    Hello,

    We have a broody Wyandotte - Ginny - and just got some day old chicks to sneak under her late tonight. We have 7 hens and 2 nest boxes, and she's been in one of the boxes almost solidly for a week. I was removing eggs and I left a golf ball for her to sit on, which she is nice and cuddly with.

    My questions:
    1. I have been told to keep her separate by putting up a board or something to isolate her with the chicks in the next box.
    Is this really necessary, and for how long do I need to do it?
    If the coop is heated with a lamp, does she need her own, or can we just make sure the lamp is heating her box?

    2. Do I need to buy specialty chick feed? Do I need to have a chick waterer and feeder in the nest box? It's pretty cozy, won't they muck it all up really quickly? Doesn't the hen need to leave to poop?


    Thanks in advance for your help! I'm learning as I go here, we just got our first chicks last winter.

    Keri
     
  2. Tressa27884

    Tressa27884 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    East Bay, Ca.
    I'm sorry I can't answer your question, but I had to tell you I AM SO JEALOUS you have a broody hen. I wish one of mine would go broody - I'd have a zillion little chicks under her!
     
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Keep in mind that just because she is broody doesn't mean she'll accept the chicks, especially since she's only been broody for a week. I think most who try to sneak in chicks do so when the eggs would typically be hatching, around 21 days or so. She could kill the chicks, so I would be ready to observe/intervene at first light.

    I would not trust a mere board to retain the chicks, especially since there are other adult chickens in that coop. I would place the entire nest and bird in a dog crate, and make sure any openings large enough to allow a small chick through are covered with HW cloth...and keep the entire thing in the coop.

    If she accepts the chicks, she will not need any extra heat other than what she's already used to. You will need to remove layer feed (unless it's outside) and have chick or flock raiser available for the chicks.

    If she does not accept the chicks, you will need to have a brooder ready.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  4. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps


    Keri, one week on the nest might be a little short for putting chicks under her. She may take them, but be prepared to brood them yourself in a brooder, if she doesn't like the idea. The best bet is to put them under her at night so she wakes up with them. You have to be there at dawn to ensure that she doesn't reject them the first day. If she accepts the chicks, she will want to leave the nest with them after a day, at which time she will want to feed them (chick starter) and water them (chick waterer). The waterer must be shallow enough so a chick won't drown in it. She won't need a lamp for heat as she can warm the chicks herself. Make sure the nest is low enough to allow the chicks to exit and enter. The hen will want to take the chicks back in the nest at night. If the nest is to high, they will get cold and die as she will not have enough sense to know that. The nest should be floor level. The feeder and waterer should not be in the nest. Most folks will tell you that a hen with chicks should have her own fenced area for the safety of the chicks. Good luck......Pop
     
  5. TheMKs

    TheMKs New Egg

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    Mar 14, 2011
    Northern Colorado
    Well, shoot. I just tried to sneak the chicks in, but she was awake. At 11:30pm! She pecked at me as I tried to place one under her, so I am too nervous to leave her with the chicks. This is the first time she's pecked. She let me remove eggs in the past.

    We had a back up plan to raise the chicks ourselves, but were hoping to let mama do it so we wouldn't need to do an introduction of new birds down the road. Is it worth trying again, since it's so early in her cycle? I wish I'd known about the 3 week rule beforehand. We're always learning, I guess this is one more thing to add to the list.

    It's amazing how much the lives of those day old chicks weigh on my conscience. [​IMG]

    Thanks for your advice!
     
  6. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nearly all broodies will peck and growl. They're just defending thier nest. You outta see what happens when you intrude on a goose nest, LOL. Don't let that hinder you, it has nothing to do with aggression, or the chicks. She may be even more defensive after the "hatch". Do your deed in the dark. Be quick and decisive. Don't take NO for an answer. Be there in the morning BEFORE daylight arrives and watch what happens.
    You still got a shot. Don't woos out at this point. Your window fades as the chicks age and 3 days old is the end........Pop
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Northwest Arkansas
    You've got a couple of good people already talking to you. I may not totally agree with everything they say, but that does not mean I don't respect their experience and advice. We've all got different set-ups and experiences, so we often do things differently. In a lot of things, it is not a case that you have to do something, but that a certain way works best for you.

    1. I have been told to keep her separate by putting up a board or something to isolate her with the chicks in the next box.
    Is this really necessary, and for how long do I need to do it?


    I personally do not isolate the hen while she is hatching. I leave everything open so the hen can bring the chicks off the nest when she wants to. When the hen brings them off the nest, I isolate the hen and the chicks in a special area for a couple of days. This is not for anyone's protection or anything like that. This is just me letting them learn how to eat and drink without interference from the other adults in the flock. They also become more active and quicker. A lot of people will consider me babying them too much doing this. It is totally different from how my father did it. He just let the hen take care of them from the start with no interference from him. But my set-up and goals are different from his. And they are mine. I'll do it the way I want to.

    After maybe two days I let the hen and chicks out so she can raise them with the flock. Occasionally the hen will take them to the main coop at night, but usually she takes them back where I had been keeping them. But I just move then to the coop after dark and she takes them back there from then on.

    Sometimes a hen will try to take her chicks up to a nest, but a lot of times, she takes them to a corner of the coop and covers them on the ground, totally ignoring the nests. The openings to my lower nests are maybe 16" off the ground. Most of the time, when a hen goes into the nest, the chicks will follow. They can get up there at three days old. But occasionally one or two won't make it. I've had hens bring her chicks back off the nest and take care of the chicks that could not make it up there, but I've also had some that did not take care of those chicks. I always check about dark to see what is going on for the first two or three nights to make sure all the chicks are taken care of. You can find the chicks that don't make it, if there are any, by their peeping. I just scoop them up and put them in the nest.

    If the coop is heated with a lamp, does she need her own, or can we just make sure the lamp is heating her box?

    I never heat a coop. It seldom gets below 0* Fahrenheit here so I don't need to. The hen has her own built-in heater that provides all the warmth the chicks need and never has a power outage. The chicks are not as delicate as you may think. When I raise them in a brooder, the brooder is in the coop and I only heat one area. The rest of the brooder cools off a whole lot. Those chicks spend a whole lot of their time in the cooler areas.

    2. Do I need to buy specialty chick feed? Do I need to have a chick waterer and feeder in the nest box? It's pretty cozy, won't they muck it all up really quickly? Doesn't the hen need to leave to poop?

    Once the hen takes them off the nest, they do not spend any more time in the nest unless he takes them back there to sleep. As I said, that often does not happen with mine. She'll have them out all day searching for food and water.

    The chicks should not eat Layer feed because of the extra calcium in it. It can damage their internal organs or even their bone structure as they grow. The hen is not laying eggs, so she does not need the extra calcium either and will do fine on chick feed. If you isolate the hen and chicks, just feed her like you do the chicks, Starter and Grower or whatever you use. If you let the hen raise them with the flock, feed all the chickens Starter, Grower, or Flock Raiser and offer oyster shell on the side. The ones that need the extra calcium for the egg shells will eat it and the others will not eat enough to harm them.

    I also agree to just put the chicks in with the hen at night. Don't worry about her being protective of her nest. She is supposed to be. Just check early the next morning to see how it is going. I don't know how much light you have in your coop at night. It is better if it is pitch black so the hen can't see what is going on. But just do the best you can. I've never added chicks to a broody this early in an incubation, but a lot of people on this forum have posted that they were successful this early. But it is always wise to have a back-up plan in case it does not go well.

    Good Luck!!!
     
  8. TheMKs

    TheMKs New Egg

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    Mar 14, 2011
    Northern Colorado
    Update:

    We snuck the babies in last night, apparently successfully. Everything was going well until we realized one of the chicks had fallen out of the nest box and was found by two hens who had pecked her. Her middle toe on the left foot is discolored and bends oddly (we think broken), and her left eye was pecked, I think, because it doesn't open. [​IMG] She isn't walking much, but does walk a step or two at a time, and is interested in her water.

    We've isolated her back in the house under a heatlamp with food and chick starter. We're stuck now - should we try to reintroduce her back under mom (who seems to be taking care of the other two fairly well)? We have seen her peck at the babies a few times, but it seems to be more of a "get back here" than a "get away from me" kind of peck. Is that normal?

    If she makes it through, and we need to raise her alone, should we consider getting a same-aged friend so she's not lonely?

    What are your thoughts on our next plan?

    Thanks for your help so far!

    Keri
     
  9. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps


    Put the chick back under the mom while there is still time. The first few days mom will move slow and the chick will either make it or not. Either way, it's better than brooding a lone chick by yourself and the same-aged friend idea stinks. The broken toe is a non issue and the loss of an eye can be lived with. Put the chick back under the hen and hope for the best.........Pop
     
  10. TheMKs

    TheMKs New Egg

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    Mar 14, 2011
    Northern Colorado
    Can you explain why getting her a friend is a bad idea?

    Do we need to wait until the wee hours of dark to put her in with mom again? (We put her in last night. It wasn't until this afternoon that she fell out, so they did have some time together.)
     

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