Reintroducing incubator chicks to a brood

PuddleEndChicken

Chirping
May 25, 2020
51
38
63
Our Pekin bantam went broody and sat on a clutch of about 6 eggs, but somehow by the end of the sitting there were 16 eggs in total (added in by other bantams - once we realised this we put her in a separate run).

On day 21 she hatched out 5 lovely chicks (great for our kids as we've never done this before !) and she kicked one partially hatched egg out of the nest and it was cold by the time we found it. She then moved with her 5 chicks to the other end of the run and stopped sitting on the remaining 10. We put these remaining 10 eggs in the incubator and so far we've hatched 2 more chicks - one is about 24 hours old and one is 12 hours old so these are about 2 days younger than the 5 chicks in the brood.

We'd like to put these 2 back in with the mother and her 5 chicks but need some advice as we don't want the mother to reject or hurt these two especially as the kids have got to know them well now !! Also the temperature in the barn is about 70F in the day, lower at night and they've been at 100F in the incubator.

Reading on other threads some people have said don't reintroduce them at night in case the mother hurts them or they wander away and get cold. But others have said it's too risky to introduce them in the day and easier at night as the mother won't notice.

Really appreciate your advice as we're new to all this !!!
 

PuddleEndChicken

Chirping
May 25, 2020
51
38
63
Our Pekin bantam went broody and sat on a clutch of about 6 eggs, but somehow by the end of the sitting there were 16 eggs in total (added in by other bantams - once we realised this we put her in a separate run).

On day 21 she hatched out 5 lovely chicks (great for our kids as we've never done this before !) and she kicked one partially hatched egg out of the nest and it was cold by the time we found it. She then moved with her 5 chicks to the other end of the run and stopped sitting on the remaining 10. We put these remaining 10 eggs in the incubator and so far we've hatched 2 more chicks - one is about 24 hours old and one is 12 hours old so these are about 2 days younger than the 5 chicks in the brood.

We'd like to put these 2 back in with the mother and her 5 chicks but need some advice as we don't want the mother to reject or hurt these two especially as the kids have got to know them well now !! Also the temperature in the barn is about 70F in the day, lower at night and they've been at 100F in the incubator.

Reading on other threads some people have said don't reintroduce them at night in case the mother hurts them or they wander away and get cold. But others have said it's too risky to introduce them in the day and easier at night as the mother won't notice.

Really appreciate your advice as we're new to all this !!!
 

Rachnicko

Songster
May 10, 2020
211
355
151
UK
Hey I just came across your post. Sorry no one got back to you. So glad to hear integration went well.
We have a kind of similar situation. Our broody bantam is sitting on 8 eggs. 2 are due to hatch on Saturday but the others aren’t due until next Wednesday. People here have suggested we are best removing the two early chicks when (hopefully) they hatch and brooding separately so that the hen doesn’t abandon the other eggs (we don’t have an incubator but do have a brooder plate).
I was wondering how it would go to add the chicks back to broody... but glad to hear it can be done with a watchful eye.
I hope you enjoy the chicks!!
 

PuddleEndChicken

Chirping
May 25, 2020
51
38
63
Hey I just came across your post. Sorry no one got back to you. So glad to hear integration went well.
We have a kind of similar situation. Our broody bantam is sitting on 8 eggs. 2 are due to hatch on Saturday but the others aren’t due until next Wednesday. People here have suggested we are best removing the two early chicks when (hopefully) they hatch and brooding separately so that the hen doesn’t abandon the other eggs (we don’t have an incubator but do have a brooder plate).
I was wondering how it would go to add the chicks back to broody... but glad to hear it can be done with a watchful eye.
I hope you enjoy the chicks!!
Hi, many thanks for your reply. Interesting to hear that you have a similar situation. Our hen hatched out 5 on the first day and immediately abandoned the remaining 10 - I'm not sure whether she was just focussed on the chicks that had hatched or whether she sensed something was wrong with the rest (1 was fine, 1 was breach and we had to cut it out of the shell and the other 8 we candled and they weren't viable) ?
This is our first experience so I'm not qualified to advise you, but it sounds like removing your 2 early chicks may encourage her to sit until wednesday as you say.
Putting the chicks back under the bantam was much easier than we expected. We just put them down in front of her with the others and she got on with it !
I think the thing I've learnt is that once the hen goes broody, it's really important to make sure that she's isolated from other hens so that they don't sneak their eggs under her which results in a range of hatching dates !!
Good luck for saturday - I would love to hear how you get on !
 

Rachnicko

Songster
May 10, 2020
211
355
151
UK
That’s interesting you say that maybe she sensed something about the 10 eggs that she abandoned - I was wondering if that might be the case. Glad you managed to get another couple of successful hatches though - although I’m sure the breached one was tricky. Did you have to assist?

Well I’m a very excited chicken mum at the moment, as we are on day 20 and have a hatch! We heard peeping coming from inside the eggs yesterday, and this morning there is a chick. We’ve not really seen it yet, as the broody is hiding it and don’t want to disturb her too much. We’re hoping for a second one, as they will then be the 2 early hatches.

We kind of have a staggered hatch by design. We gave the broody 2 of our own eggs to see how she got on, and then bought some polish eggs online and got them shipped to us. By the time the shipped eggs got to us, we weren’t sure about removing the 2 she was already sitting on - but decided we would let them play out.

We will check on her again soon and maybe try moving the chicks from her. I just hope it doesn’t upset her and she keeps sitting on the polish.

I think you’re right in keeping a broody isolated too. A few days ago we heard a ruckus outside and it turned out one of our other sweet little bantam hens had kicked the broody out of the nest box and was on the eggs! I don’t know how it happened, but I then created a screen so the broody was left in peace.

I’ll keep you posted on our hatch 🐣
 

Rachnicko

Songster
May 10, 2020
211
355
151
UK
The 2 early hatchers are out! By 10am this morning (day 20) they were under the broody. We agonised somewhat about what to do, but we’ve removed them and are brooding them inside under a heat plate until the other polish eggs (hopefully) hatch.

I think it was the right decision as these 2 chicks have been very lively already. They are pecking at each other’s beaks and toes! I don’t think the broody would have stayed on the other eggs. The broody did seem disgruntled and puzzled as we took them away - but hopefully they will be reunited soon! And she still seems ok for now.

Here they are...
DCE4491C-D13F-4C72-8E9C-397ED418497F.jpeg
EC613E52-EA44-4B6B-B7A6-1680B211094C.jpeg
 

PuddleEndChicken

Chirping
May 25, 2020
51
38
63
The 2 early hatchers are out! By 10am this morning (day 20) they were under the broody. We agonised somewhat about what to do, but we’ve removed them and are brooding them inside under a heat plate until the other polish eggs (hopefully) hatch.

I think it was the right decision as these 2 chicks have been very lively already. They are pecking at each other’s beaks and toes! I don’t think the broody would have stayed on the other eggs. The broody did seem disgruntled and puzzled as we took them away - but hopefully they will be reunited soon! And she still seems ok for now.

Here they are... View attachment 2166182 View attachment 2166185
Thanks so much for your reply and your post of your gorgeous chicks ! I'm sorry it took me a while to get back to you - I thought I would be alerted when you replied but somehow I haven't set up my preferences correctly !!
I'm so glad these two hatched out safely and that your hen is OK with you taking them away. How are you doing with the Polish eggs now ? are they close to hatching ? We had no problems at all adding back in our two chicks from the incubator to the 5 that were with the mother, we just lifted them into her pen and put them down beside her and they went under her immediately - so hopefully you can do the same. Our 7 chicks now all doing really well back with the mother and growing well - I'll try to send you a photo too !
 

Rachnicko

Songster
May 10, 2020
211
355
151
UK
That’s great to hear and yes pictures of chicks are always appreciated!

So the two “early hatchers” came extra early on day 20 (last Friday). The next hatch date was Wednesday, but we had an early hatcher out of the remaining 6 Polish eggs that also came on day 20 (Tuesday).

We had been holding on to see what happened with the remaining 5 eggs, but by Thursday morning, there was still nothing. I was conscious that the broody still hadn’t been off the nest with the Polish chick, so it had hardly eaten or drank coming up to 48 hours, so we decided to candle the eggs. Turned out no more were viable.

It was a bit traumatic for us, and nerve wracking adding two to only one chick, but the chickens took things kind of well. We put the two “early hatchers” under the broody, and started removing the eggs. Eventually she came off the nest, and although she seemed to be pecking the chicks, I think she was just trying to get them under her.

Once the chicks knew it was safe and warm under her, they seemed happy, and have been under, on top and around her since.

I was slightly disappointed with only 1 out of 6 Polish eggs hatching, but they had been posted. I had candled about a week in, and I thought all were developing except one that wasn’t fertile.

Here’s some more photos of our three...
 

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