Reintroduce chicks to momma hen?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Aime137, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. Aime137

    Aime137 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a Silkie hen that went broody on 6 eggs. Then, over the course of a week or two, she had added another 5 eggs (I assume from the other hen). I finally moved her to her own nesting house so she couldn't take anymore eggs. The problem I am faced with is that the last 5 eggs started incubation on different days, therefore the chicks may hatch out over the course of one to two weeks, instead of three days.
    I had a hen do the same thing before and after three days of chicks hatching, she abandoned the eggs in the nest to care for the hatched chicks. I was lucky in that I was able to get the eggs under another hen and they hatched successfully. A friend told me that if I take the first chicks that hatch to a brooder, the hen will stay on the eggs. So that is what I have done this time. She is still sitting on the last four eggs and I have 7 chicks in a brooder box.
    My thought was that when she has just two eggs left, I will start putting the chicks back in with her. I would really like her to raise them but I'm getting cold feet. Will she accept them?
    I'd love to hear from folks that have done this sort of thing and exactly how you did it. Thanks!
     
  2. CasadasHens

    CasadasHens Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't have any advice on this one as I have never done it, but will be so interested to see what others say! Good luck!
     
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  3. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just put all the chicks in the brooder as they hatch. If you wait till you have 2 eggs left, then re-intro ther chicks the hen may abandon the nest & 2 eggs. Silkies are sposed to be nice birds, so you shouldn't have any problems intro'ing all the chicks later.
     
  4. Aime137

    Aime137 Out Of The Brooder

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    You may be right about her leaving too soon. Maybe it would be best to wait until all the eggs are hatched. I was thinking that by reintroduce the chicks when she had just two eggs left (that would hopefully hatch in the next two days), the timing would work out just right for her to hatch them before leaving the nest. That's risky for the eggs, though.
    My biggest concern is whether or not she will take back so many chicks. I have read on many threads that people have introduced one chick but would like to hear from someone who has given a hen an entire clutch. I have seven chicks right now and if they all hatch there will be eleven.
    Should I just put them all in there with her at once, or should I give her a couple new ones each day and spread it out?
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    If you're going to try it, I'd put them all in at once. With a silkie you might be able to get away with it as they seem to have such strong maternal instincts. You'll just have to be able to keep a close eye on them, though, and make sure she doesn't attack them.

    Since this has happened twice, you should work on not having staggered hatches with your hens. It's pretty easy to mark the eggs in a clutch when she starts setting and check under her each day to remove surprise additions. When I give a broody eggs, I mark them all the way around with a sharpie. Marking all the way around means you don't have to mess with the egg to see if it's marked, it very apparent. That way all you have to do is raise the broody up a little and see if she has any unmarked eggs under her. I collect the unmarked eggs daily. Broodies are egg thieves and you have to keep watch they don't just keep adding and adding eggs!
     
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  6. Karen Whitfield

    Karen Whitfield Chillin' With My Peeps

    When you do introduce them do it at night time. I got this advice of a breeder and it worked beautifully.
     
  7. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aime137, 1 hen can handle 11 chicks just fine. When my hens go broody I cram all the random extra eggs on hand under them, so my hens rountinely hatch & raise 12-18 chicks at a time. The only problem is that as the chicks get bigger the hen can't cover them, but this really isn't a problem unless it's super cold or raining.
    You can make your life less stressful by implementing egg management as described by donrae. That's the way I do it too but other hens stomping in & out of the nest to lay usually results in several of my marked eggs being broken.
     
  8. Aime137

    Aime137 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the great advice on egg management and what a hen can handle!
    Update:
    Once they all hatched, I gave a couple of chicks back to the hen and watched. She was wonderful with them so I put in a couple more. By the end of the day, she had them all.
    She was a great mom until they turned 2 months old. Then she started pecking them whenever they came near. I guess she got tired of mothering!
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  9. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yep, that's the weaniing process. TCB typical chicken behavior. When mine do it the hen will still cover the chicks on the roost at night but wants nothing to do with them during the day. That's when I remove her from the broody pen and put her back in the layer pen.
     

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