Questions about hens raising their youngins. :)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Jujubeans2008, Apr 22, 2017.

  1. Jujubeans2008

    Jujubeans2008 Chirping

    Mar 20, 2016
    Molino, Florida
    My husband and I have had chickens for two years now, but have always raised them ourselves from chicks. Currently as far as chickens go, we have Easter Eggers, Rhode Island Reds, Sex Links, Silver-Laced, Dominqiues, and a Leghorn. We also have four ducks and two geese.

    Recently, we have had a chicken go broody and thought that it would be fun to see her raise her own chicks. She has been sitting on her eggs for about a week now.

    My husband and I didn't fully think this through because we do not really know how this works. So I have some questions for you:

    1. Should we separate the mom and babies from the rest of the poultry?
    2. Do chicks need chick food/grit when their mothers raise them?



  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    There isn't anything much sweeter than watching a good mama hen raising her babies.
    Your first question is one that will get you mixed answers - because it is one of those things that each poultry keeper has their own approach to. I, personally, have always had my hens raise their chicks in the flock. A good mother hen (a good mom can be a first time mom just as easily as some hens never getting it no matter how many times they go through brooding) does a great job of setting boundaries for the other animals and the other animals do a great job of helping to teach the chicks how to be good members of the flock. There are some risks involved in this approach, yes, but that is true of all things to do with keeping a flock and it's about deciding what the risk/reward is for you and your birds. If you are not comfortable taking the "let's see what happens" approach, there is nothing wrong with providing her an appropriate maternity ward in which to brood the eggs and raise the chicks separate from the other animals. If possible, doing so in an enclosure that is still "with" the other animals (ie separating part of the coop/run for them, having a separate enclosure/housing unit next to the main one, etc) can help to ease the transition when the separation ends and the new chicks are to join the flock.
    On the second - chicks should have an appropriate diet regardless of whether they are being hand raised or raised by a hen. This means not feeding layer feed where they can get at it and eat it. As you have a mixed flock anyway, you may not be using layer feed as it is - if you are, though, you will need to provide an "all flock", "flock raiser" or other appropriate diet to the whole flock if the chicks are mingling with them *or* feed the hen and chicks a chick appropriate feed (any of the above or chick starter/grower) if they are house away from the flock. If/when you integrate the new chicks to the main flock you will need to refrain from feeding layer ration until they have reached the point of lay themselves. (the simplest solution is to just feel your flock an "all life stages" appropriate diet all the time - this is what many, myself included, do to avoid concern over whether the layer ration is appropriate for any given bird)
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  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    As a matter of fact, my reliable broody Linda hatched two new chicks just two days ago. I had been looking forward to it all winter, counting the months, then weeks, then days until she would go broody. She went broody practically on the same date as she did last year.

    I'm in the camp of providing a 'maternity' ward, secure from nosy, meddling other hens, a few of which can be real brats. It's convenient for me to partition off one half of one of my coops for the three weeks Linda was sitting on her eggs. (The nest is on the floor, by the way.) This is desirable because in the past other hens have crowded into the nest with Linda and laid their own eggs, sometimes resulting in breaking the incubating eggs.

    Then the big day arrived. Chicks are so fragile coming out of their eggs that I feel so much better knowing there isn't going to be any crowd scene as the blessed event unfolds. Two days later, Linda is now bringing her tiny babies out of the nest and teaching them to eat. They have the peace and safety of their reserved space in which to do this. Since the nest is on the floor, it's easy for the chicks to get out and back in since they aren't able easily to navigate vertical distances for the first week.

    In another couple days, Linda will be taking the two babies outside in the run. For this purpose, there's a dedicated run coming off that half of the coop so the little family will have it all to themselves for the next two weeks.

    By the time the chicks reach two weeks, I then let them have access to the main run but in a controlled manner. Linda and her chicks can come and go from their dedicated run to another section which adjoins the space where the rest of the flock will be able to see that Linda has rejoined the flock with two new members but they can't mingle yet. Linda and the chicks will be observing the flock and the flock will be observing them from different sides of a fence in the run.

    After a few days of this "look but no touch", I open the chick portals from this section so the chicks may start mingling with the flock, returning to their safe pen if things get stressful. It's my "panic room" approach to integration. It's a step by step process that maximizes safety while minimizing the time it requires for chicks to become fully and safely integrated into the flock. By the time the chicks are five weeks old, they are fully integrated and roosting with the adults, but the chicks are fully mingling with the flock between two and three weeks.

    This is the way I choose to manage my flock. There's no right or wrong way. This way works extremely well for me. You will choose what works best for you. Grey Mare is so right! Watching a broody raise her chicks is one of the most wonderful experiences associated with keeping a flock.

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