Requesting advice: to move or not move chicks


13 Years
Dec 31, 2008
Hi All,

I am hoping someone can provide some advice. I have two broody silkie hens sitting on 2 hatching eggs apiece and the eggs are due to hatch in about 7 days. The problem I have is that the coop they are in is tall and dangerous for little chicks, lest they fall down the ramp ... and I always figured I'd move the chicks to a brooder once they hatch anyhow. Now, I am wondering if I should instead keep the chicks with the hens as both are wonderful mommas and well, frankly, I would feel really, REALLY badly if I took them from the hens after they did all that work! Any advice on whether I should remove the chicks?

I thought about blocking the opening to the ramp and putting food and water in the coop .. but then there is actually little space for that (with both of them nesting, they take up about 50% of the coop cuz they don't use the nest boxes at all). I thought a solution might be a big brooder for hens and chicks but I am seriously running out of time. I am a newbie and this is my first time. Are the mommas gonna be "traumatized" if I move the chicks? (Oh goodness, I feel rather hopeless and SUCH the newbie!).

Also, I do want the chicks to imprint on people because they are destined to be pets. Will keeping the chicks with the hens make them more wary of people?



I'd appreciate any suggestions folks. Thanks in advance!
First of all, beautiful birds and really cute coop.
If it were me and space were an issue(as far as putting in food and water), I would make a brooder out of a plastic swimming pool, plastic Rubbermaid tote, etc. in the house or garage. I am such a worrier that I would also be concerned about the chicks injuring themselves.
My understanding of the imprinting is that chicks that are brooded without their mothers imprint on their caretakers(you and your family) within a very short period of time(not sure what that time frame is).
Sorry I couldn't be of more help-someone will come along with good advice for you!
Good luck with your new babies and hope they are happy and healthy for you!
Thanks Easttxchick! That was helpful! As you can tell, I've been stressing about separating the chicks from their mothers. Any other thoughts out there?
I would move both the eggs and the mothers, if I were you, and I'd separate the mothers to prevent possible aggression of one hen towards the chicks of the other hen. As long as the chicks see you often and you hold them a lot, they should be generally friendly. The hens will also tire of them after a time and then you will be able to integrate yourself further.

Edit: As for separating the chicks from the mothers, I tried it once after they had hatched, and the reaction on both sides was so sad that I moved them back. If you do want to separate them, I suggest you do it as early as possible. I suppose it kind of defeats the mother to have sat on a batch of eggs for 3 weeks and then not be able to enjoy the products of her labor.
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Thanks Insanebreeder, I worry about Daisy and Lily too. I thought it would be easy to separate the chicks and wasn't even a concern as I started this process ... but after seeing how conscientious mothers they are and how caring they are for the eggs, it really will break my heart to take the chicks away
. And my hens have LOTS of personality. I'm sure they will tell me what's NOT acceptable!
LOL Thank you for your help too.
I had a similar situation and my coop is off the ground like yours..... I did NOTHING and everyone was happy. The babies will stay with their mama and she will take them down the ramp when the time comes. Yours is a little steep so they may have a hard time going back up but you can always help them until they are able. Maybe stick 2 up side down buckets in the run with holes cut out so the mama and babies can just sleep there if they want.

I did end up putting food and water in one of my nest boxes for them to eat and they were fine.

In my situation I had one broody and 7 other hens, but I think the concept would be the same. The mama protected her babies from the other girls and by the time she gave them the 'boot' everyone was intergrated and all was good. BTW it was my first time, too. Just relax. All will be well in the end...
Thanks clarkestep! I hadn't thought about the bucket idea, which is great! I think I might set up some temporary barriers on either side of the ramp so the chicks won't fall completely to the bottom if they were to go down the ramp ... or move them to a big brooder if I can get to it. All great ideas! Thanks!

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