putting broody hen w/3 wk old chicks out with flock??

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 2overeasy, May 19, 2011.

  1. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chirping

    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    I had a BO go broody at the beginning of April. I moved her and the eggs to one side of the coop I call the nursery. It's a 6'X12' enclosure that opens into a completely covered and secure yard of the same size. It's where I put new chicks when I've ordered them. She's the first hen I've had to go broody and hatch naturally.
    I also have 10 mail order chicks that are now nearly 6 weeks old and I'd like to turn them out into the yard (their brooder is inside the nursery). I turned them out yesterday but the hen chases them inside and won't let them into the yard, so they stay huddled together in the house.
    So my question is, can I just go ahead and let her take her chicks out to free range with the rest of the flock? I've read so many conflicting responses to that question on other threads.
    If I do, do I wait til the morning and just open the gate into the main property and let her lead the chicks out? I know she doesn't like being closed up. Or should I pick up the box that she sleeps in with her chicks and place it on the floor on the other side where the other chickens roost? And if I integrate them, how do I continue to feed them chick starter?
    My 10 chicks really need to start going out into the yard and the hen won't let them.
    I also have an EE that went broody yesterday under the side porch. I don't know if I should leave her and just let her do it all on her own, or bring her and the eggs in to the nursery to do it all over again?
    It seems like ordering chicks and raising them is a whole lot less stressful than allowing a hen hatch them out!

  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    See, I think having the hen hatch and raise them is so much less work! I'd just go ahead and let her and the babies out with the flock. Esp if they're free ranged, everyone will have lots of room. And Momma should kick the butt of anyone who messes with her babies, thus saving you problems of trying to bring the young-uns into the flock when they have no protection. I'd leave the door open for a day or so, so they can come and go, but I guess you're eventually going to have to move the box out to let the other babies out, right? I'd wait a day or two, then move it into the coop with the other girls.
  3. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chirping

    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Thanks - it just seems like I have to worry about the chicks more this way. I've read that the hen can abandon them as early as 4 weeks and that seems so young to be on their own. Then there's the cats. And the hawks.
    And do you know what I should do about feeding chick starter?
    Oh, and since I first posted earlier, I went to close up the chickens for the night and found that a cochin is now broody! I've going to have chickens coming out my ears!
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    well when you seperate them from the flock, you tend to lose the advantages of having the broody hen do the work. I left mine with the flock, just keeping the layers away, until all the eggs had hatched. And by doing it the 'natural' way, you are probably going to lose some chicks. But you don't worry about the temperature, the reintroduction.

    My hen protected her babies pretty aggressively for much longer than 4 weeks. Also, even when she no longer protected them, she did not thump on them, and they learned pretty darn early, while still under mothers protection, that is was better to keep mama hen between them and the other hens.

    Feed starter feed to everything, and add the oyster shell. The layers will crave the oyster shell, and the chicks will leave it alone.

  5. 2overeasy

    2overeasy Chirping

    May 28, 2010
    Birchwood, TN
    Thank you, Mrs. K. That was most helpful - especially about the feed. Funny thing, I was about to let them out this morning when I walked through the living room and almost stepped on a decapitated bird! My cat, Slim, likes to bring his supper in through the dog door. I guess he doesn't like dining "alfresco!" Made me a bit nervous, but I'm going to let the hen out, anyway.
    As of yesterday, I now have 2 hens sitting on eggs, and I simply can't micromanage that many hens and eggs and chicks. Last year was my first year having chickens and I ordered 20 and got 10 from TSC, so of course I wouldn't have any old enough to start sitting.
    I'm dealing with wry neck in a chick for the first time, too. A week of good food and vitamins didn't help, so yesterday I got prednisone.
    Still learning... [​IMG]
  6. KKatknap

    KKatknap Songster

    Nov 15, 2009
    Albany, OR
    I also have a large box with a chick starter feeder in it that has an opening that only the chicks can get through. I had to do that because mama kept spilling it all over showing the babies how to scratch for goodies. [​IMG]

    Good luck with your babies! I LOVE hatching with a broody - SO much less stress for the peoples! [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 20, 2011

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