Questions about letting mama hens raise babies instead of using brooder

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Scifisarah, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Scifisarah

    Scifisarah Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 1, 2009
    Rockford MI
    My Coop
    I have two bantam cochins sitting on 6 eggs each that are due to hatch tonight. They are currently in a dog crate separated by a barrier so they didn't bother each other or try to switch nests. I've always kept the chicks in a brooder, but I am interested in letting nature take its course if possible and having the moms keep them cozy.

    A few questions though...

    - I will obviously need to move them out of the dog crate or the chicks will just hop through. Would it be okay to move the "families" in the nestboxes out of the crate and put them into the inside portion of our chicken traction and let the two moms and babies be in contact with each other? Or should I still put a divider down the middle?

    - Can I remove the nestboxes to make more room for them inside the tractor, or if they still need them, how long before I can remove the nestboxes. They are quite large and made out of office filing boxes.

    - Should I open the door of the chicken tractor, so the moms and babies have access to the "run" area right away, or keep it closed so they don't get chilled or fall out? Here in Michigan it has been anywhere from the high 50s to 70s in the daytime right now.

    - Do I need to still have a heat lamp for the chicks, or are the hens sufficient to keep them warm?

    - Are the mama hens okay eating the 20% Starter mix for a while, and how long should I keep them with the babies? I like to wait until the babies have all their adult feathers grown in before I introduce them to the rest of the flock.

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    Last edited: Apr 16, 2012
  2. justacouplemorechicks

    justacouplemorechicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had my broody hen set up just like that in a dog crate. But I only had 1 hen. My crate was sitting inside of my large coop with my other chickens. I tried to use a thin piece of plywood about a foot tall around the inside of the crate to keep everyone inside. But they pulled it down about a week later and nobody paid much attention to the babies hopping in and out of the crate. I opened the crate door when the babies were about 10 days old because the mother hen was having a fit when her babies would hop out and she couldn't get to them. The mother hen took care of anybody that got to close to her babies.She was enough warmth for them and I didn't need to provide any additional heat. I would remove the divider and just let the hens be together. After the babies are born I'd move them all into the tractor when they are a few days old and up and moving around. And I'd open the tractor door immediately. The mother's will know when to take the babies in and out. My mother hen is eating the chick starter feed. I am also giving her a treats and scraps and she makes sure the babies try everything I give her. I would put the tractor as close as possible to your other chickens, maybe inside their run? You really only need to provide food and water ~~ the mother hens will take care of EVERYTHING else!!
     
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  3. Scifisarah

    Scifisarah Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 1, 2009
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    My Coop
    I will probably wait until they have hatched and then remove the divider. When I didn't have them divided once, they both crammed into one box together and left the other box with nobody sitting on the eggs.

    When they are a few days old, can I just put the hens and chicks in the tractor and ditch the nest boxes?

    Our tractor is quite large and won't fit through the doorway of our main chicken run, but we can put it right next to them so they get used to seeing the chicks.
     
  4. justacouplemorechicks

    justacouplemorechicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 21, 2011
    Kentucky
    I never thought about hens wanting to sit inside same box. Yes, I would wait until they are hatched and then remove the divider. They will probably all cram inside one of your nest boxes, so you will probably be able to remove one box then. They may fuss a little at first until everyone sorts out their chicks. As long as you have hay or shavings inside the tractor house you can just add the chicks and their mothers when they are a couple of days old. They will snuggle up under their mothers down in the bedding and be warm. Yes, I would definitely put the tractor up next to your other chickens. Everyone will be curious and checking them out and they will be familiar with each other when they are all finally added together. I did 10 mail order chicks like this and there were no issues at all when I put everyone together in the big coop at about 6 weeks.
     

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