Problems with Hens sitting on Eggs


10 Years
Nov 6, 2009
Springfield, Missouri
I have raised turkeys and chickens for several years now so I’m really not new to most of this. I always incubate the eggs, then I can brood them and as they get bigger can introduce them to the rest of the flock as needed. Well, this year I decided to allow the hens to sit on some of the eggs also, and I’m having problems integrating that with everything else.
First is where do the hens make their nest so that every one else doesn’t try to lay in it also or chase her off. Had two hens in same coop with nests a few feet apart, and eventually they were trading nests and such until one finally abandoned her nest and pushed the other hen of hers.
Then there is the issue of giving mom full control to make sure the babies get enough food and water, and/or trying to contain them. I put one hen in a fenced pasture and at first the chicks would get thru the fence and she couldn’t, then she jumped the fence and took off with them. She started with 4, and now has 2. Not sure what happened to the other 2, but they are bigger now and can keep up with mom. I’ve tried moving her several times to different places and finally was forced to just accept that she was going to go where she wanted. And so far, she seems to have taken good care of the two she still has.
I have another hen started with 7 babies and I put her in an enclosed cage so she can’t get out, but 1 or 2 of the babies get out on a routine basis. I have to go find them in the tall grass and bring them back. She is very protective of her babies. Our dog “played” with one of the chicks when it got out, so now there are only 6, and he isn’t allowed out unsupervised any more. But I hate caging her.
Now I have another hen just hatched 6 or 7 chicks last night, and the rooster was out chasing her around. I put him out and closed a gate so he should stay away from her, but I’m thinking I may have to take her and separate her and her babies also. At least until they get a little bigger.
On a separate note, I’ve had more bad animal behavior this year than ever before, and I’m not sure I have that many more animals, but that could be the case. The goose Gander has been ornery all spring and been fighting with my two Toms. And it didn’t stop when the hens started sitting on eggs or when the goslings hatched. The Gander lost all the feathers on his head and part of his neck, and neither Tom has much of a tail left and one of them is missing all of his breast feathers from tangling with the Gander. I only have 2 Toms, and they spend all their time together, but they fight constantly. They even fight while one of them is trying to mount a hen. Last year, different toms, but at least they would wait for him to finish, or only fight until he actually got on her. So behavior has been off this year. I have Narragansett turkeys this year instead of Bourbon Reds, and not sure if that makes a difference.
Anyway, if some one has ideas or comments on how they manage their sitting hens, I’d really appreciate it. My birds free range in a large area and are allowed to just wander around the yard at times, but get locked in the coop each night. I have a good sized coop with 2 Toms, 3 hens, about 10 chickens, a pair of geese and their 3 goslings. Thanks. Sorry its so long.
Are they free ranged together?.
I am no expert but sounds like they need more room or possibly let the turkeys out at a different time that you let the geese out?.
You may want to build a brooding or nesting area that is blocked off from all the others and add some small hole chicken wire around the base to prevent the Poults from wondering from the nest area.

Males of any kind will fight and its even worse when there is not enough room.

I hope this helps best of luck.

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