Raising baby chicks out in the cold

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Lil'ChickFarm, Oct 30, 2011.

  1. Lil'ChickFarm

    Lil'ChickFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Silver laced wyandot female bantam went broody and she was laying on her own eggs and pingpong balls that I had put in the nest box to give them the idea of what to do in a nest box. She had only been laying eggs for a few weeks, but I kept taking her eggs and she would sit on another one. So I went to a farm and got her three full sized eggs to lay on that are fertile. They will be mixed RIR and I forgot what else, but they will be bigger chicks.
    Of course I want them to make it out there, but it got cold in the mean time and now even freezing at night.
    THe nest boxes are up about two feet off the ground, and since I am very new to all this, I am wondering how those chicks are going to get down to eat?
    The entire nest box area is about 3 x 3 and entirely insulated, even the top. It attaches to the coop, but I am sure it is warmer in there. All my silkies and other bantams sleep in there at night.
    I have 18 total hens. Only about three of them stay out in the coop which is 4 x 8 and has a long roost. The front of the coop is a huge window that is cage wire, so it is not kept warm in the coop.
    Now I need some experienced farmers to tell me how this goes? Will I need to remove the chicks and raise then inside? OR will mommy keep them warm and feed them? Surely they can't eat and drink like the rest of my hens who have a hanging food dish and water bottles that are over a foot off the ground. However if I put in the baby feeders, I wonder if the rest of the hens will just eat all the feed?
    Maybe then everyone will have to go back on baby feed for a while?
    I probably should have asked these questions before I got her the eggs, but it was warm then, lol. They are probably due to hatch in about a week.
    The first couple days that she sat on them, someone jumped in her nest and she moved to another nest and sat on ping pong balls again. So the eggs got cold. That was in the first three days sometime, but maybe they won't hatch at all after that happened.
    I removed the ping pong balls from all the nests after that. For some reason no one else is even laying yet and my RIR hens are six months old. It think it is about time. lol.
    Ok waiting to hear from all in the know. Thanks.
     
  2. azpenguin

    azpenguin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Actually, the biggest danger may be the other chickens. They may kill the chicks if they're in with the flock. Raising the chicks inside is a good idea; if you have space for the hen in a brooder box (it'll have to be decent size) bring her in along with the chicks. The nest boxes are too high for the chicks, since they can't get back up in them. You may have to create a nesting pen for the broody so that it can sit on the eggs in peace.
     
  3. Lil'ChickFarm

    Lil'ChickFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hmm I thought hens raised chicks in with other hens all the time?
     
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Lil'ChickFarm :

    hmm I thought hens raised chicks in with other hens all the time?

    They do. I've had broodies raise five clutches of chicks in the coop, with the other birds. Only one bad pecking incident and it was a meat bird that pecked the chick hard enough to hurt it. Meat birds think anything that passes in front of their beaks is food. The chick recovered.

    Allowing the broody to raise her chicks with the flock saves the hassle of having to intergrate the chicks later on. Farmers of old would never have considered taking the chicks away from the broody and raising them inside unless for a specific purpose.

    Mama hens raising their chicks in the flock is natural and right, IMO. Saves alot of work for the chicken owner too. [​IMG]
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    To answer your original question, all I can do is tell you how I manage it.

    I have two large dog crates in my larger coop. When a hen goes broody I move her, nest and all, to one of those crates. I like to do this when she first starts to set, but have done it closer to the time the chicks are due to hatch. Inside that crate will be the broody, her nest and eggs and a chick sized feeder and waterer. After letting the hen get settled I leave the door to the crate open so that mama hen can come and go as she pleases. When the chicks are due to hatch, I lock mama in. She will keep the chicks warm, no matter what. I've had broodies in February, the coldest month here. Around day three after hatch mama will let me know that she is ready to bring the chicks out to meet the flock. I had one rooster that would help the mama raise and protect the chicks, but not all roosters will. Mama hens are fierce creatures and will go after anyone that dares look at her chicks the wrong way. By the time mama gets ready to kick the chicks out of the nest they are already a part of the flock. Easy as that.
     
  6. Lil'ChickFarm

    Lil'ChickFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is great. Should I add a heat lamp to the area too since it is cold?
     
  7. dolly85

    dolly85 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would seperate the mom and her eggs (hopefully soon to be chicks!). If you put them in an enclosed draft free area they may not need a heat lamp, but if it were me I would put one up.
     
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Lil'ChickFarm :

    That is great. Should I add a heat lamp to the area too since it is cold?

    If you can't keep the area draft free and get the temp. in there up to above freezing, then yes a heat lamp would certainly help mama out. Just be sure and secure it in at least two ways so it can't be knocked down and start a fire.​
     
  9. chickbea

    chickbea Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2007
    Vermont
    I had a NHR hatch out eggs in January, by far the coldest month we get here in VT. I supplemented the heat in my coop to 35-40 degrees, and Momma had no trouble keeping them warm. At the time she was the only hen I had, so I didn't have the problem of competing hens. However, she kept the dog far away from her babies, and she and the dog were quite close.
    You don't want the chicks having access to layer feed, so if you are combining ages you are better off putting everyone on chick food. You can always hand feed some oyster shell to the layers if you are worried.
    Ooh! I wish I had babies about to hatch...
     
  10. Lil'ChickFarm

    Lil'ChickFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow I am from Vermont actually. I lived there all my life until I was 35 and then we moved to Ohio.
    I am trying to figure out how to move momma but I am afraid to move her eggs. I don't want her to abandon them. I might just have to wait until they hatch and then move them all over to the baby coop with a heat lamp.
     

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