setting hen/ broody coop?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by minister man, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. minister man

    minister man Chillin' With My Peeps

    238
    1
    101
    Sep 9, 2010
    New Brunswick
    I am not sure that this question isn't all ready answered here. I am new to this forum, and have tried to look through the posts. There are so many that I might have missed it though.

    This coming spring we are going to try to hatch our chicks naturally. We bought some incubators, they are buff and pratridge silkie bantams. They are 15 weeks old. There are 3 males and 5 females. The breeder suggested that I build some nest boxes that when they set I can remove them from the group pen and put them by themselves, nest and all. The question is, what do I need to move them too? I am wondering about, pens/ cages/ tractors where a hen can set and raise her chicks. I found some broody boxes on line, but that guy transfers his broods to pasture when they hatch. I can't do that because there are alot of coyotes around here. So how large an area would I need to provide a silkie with a few chicks?

    I was looking at some pens on here that the house was up off the ground and there was a run that was out in front of them, and went right under the house. That looked really good, but would a set up like that be practicle for brooding chicks?

    I was thinking that since silkies don't fly, that high building would be wasted, but what if I built the whole "Run" inside? Maybe an unstairs part that was 2'x3' about 18-20" above the floor and a ladder that came down to 2x4' Run, part of which was under the upstairs part. Would that work for a hen with chicks? or maybe a breeding pair of silkies?

    Any advice greatly appreciated,
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,279
    3,578
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    [​IMG] Welcome to the forum! [​IMG] Glad you are here! [​IMG]

    Never be afraid to ask a question on this forum, even if it has been asked a thousand times before. This forum would die without questions. That said, you can try the Search feature in the blue band above, but as a newby to the site, you may not know the terminology used here well enough to find what you want.

    Out of 5 silkies there are no guarantees one will go broody, but I think your chances of getting a broody are pretty high. I would not say that about 5 hens of most breeds. If a hen goes broody and you want to hatch some chicks, you have two options. You can leave the hen alone in her nest and let her hatch the chicks with the flock. Hens have been doing this successfully for thousands of years, but there are risks and management issues with this approach. Other hens will sometimes lay in the same nest the broody is in. Hens have also been known to go to other nests and carry eggs back to their nests. I have not seen them while they are doing it, but I have seen eggs miraculously move from the floor of a coop up to a nest. If you don't remove those new eggs daily bad things can happen. You need to mark the eggs you want her to hatch and remove any new eggs daily. Another bad thing that can happen is that when the broody leaves the nest for her daily constitutional, she may return to the wrong nest. I've never had this happen, but then I have never had silkies. Silkies seem especially prone to this, maybe because they are such strong broodies they are quite happy setting on their imagination.

    There are variations on this, but the other basic option is to isolate the broody from the rest of the flock. Lock her in a small pen with a nest, food, water, and enough room for her to get off the nest and go poo without messing the food, water, and nest. Keep her locked up so the other hens cannot lay in her nest and the broody cannot go back to her old nest. You'll probably need to clean the poop out of this area, so give yourself access. One of the biggest risks to this approach is that the hen will stop being broody when you move her. It also takes more active management from you because of the extra feed and water you have to provide and you will probably have to deal with the poop build-up.

    If you elect to move a broody, what I suggest is to have the isolation area already built. You need something like this anyway in case you have to isolate a chicken, maybe due to injury. I'd suggest you build the nest so it is pretty dark (that seems to make them more willing to accept the move) and so you can lock the hen in the nest itself, not just the pen you are building. Move her at night with a fake egg or two. I like to leave them locked in the nest for all of the next day and the next night, letting her off the nest to eat, drink, and poop early the following morning. Leave her alone in her pen for a couple of days until you are satisfied she has actually accepted the move. Then give her all the eggs you want her to hatch at one time.

    I personally like to let the hen raise her chicks with the flock. There are risks both ways but hens have been doing this for thousands of years. It does not work for everyone, but to me the risks of her raising them with a flock are well worth it so the hen takes care of the integration for the babies. If you do want to isolate the broody and her chicks, the doll house or play house coop you describes would work well. It would also work for a hen incubating the eggs.

    You will find that there are many different ways to do what you are planning. We each have our own ways and we each have different set-ups. Many different things can work. Hopefully others will come on and tell you what worked for them or what problems they found so you can create a plan that will work in your circumstances.
    Good luck and again, [​IMG] .
     
  3. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,852
    32
    249
    May 23, 2009
    DFW
    I used moveable nestboxes with my broodies this spring, and it was extremely handy! I moved the boxes around every day and not one of the hens moved a feather. I was able to move the boxes into the shade in the run during the day, and move them into a more secure location at night. Worked great! And then when hatching time came, I was able to put the boxes in separate pens so the hens wouldn't fight with each other.

    I learned this was very important when I accidentally let two hens come into contact with each other after their chicks had hatched. I had to break up a terrible hen fight and got a bad bruise on my arm when one hen accidentally got me instead of her rival. Ouch.

    I had two separate coops/runs already, but three broodies, so what I did was build a small pen, about 3' by 3', to go inside one of the larger runs. It didn't need to be predator secure, since it was going into an existing predator secure run.

    I kept each broody with her chicks separate until each hen decided she'd had it with mothering (this was around six weeks). Then I carefully reintegrated the hens (had to keep one separate for a while and was careful to watch for pecking order problems). The integrated the three batches of chicks at this time and kept them in a grow out pen separate from the big girls.

    When the chicks were around 4 months old, I started integrating them with the adult hens to roost at night (again, watching for problems). I still keep the younger ones separate for a portion of the day to make sure they're able to feed freely.
     
  4. minister man

    minister man Chillin' With My Peeps

    238
    1
    101
    Sep 9, 2010
    New Brunswick
    Thanks for your reply,

    I guess I was lead to believe that all silkies set! The guy I bought them from is a poultry judge and he said that they were hard to hatch from because they only lay about 10 eggs and then set. He said getting them to stopp setting was a greater problem.

    When you let your hens raise thier chicks with the flock, can you only have one hen in the flock that has chicks? I was reading that the mature hens will leave the chicks alone, but one broody will often kill the other broodys chicks. Is that true? are there specific management principals to keep them getting along?

    I was thinking about building some 24" X 30" boxes, that when a hen set, I could set the box over her nest and put her food and water in it. I read of another place where when thier hen set they took a piece of 1''x1''x 24'' welded wire 8 feet long, tyraped the ends together, and set the circle of wire over the nest. That way they aren't moved, but I would think that thier pen would have to be very large to accomadate all of those pens/ cages.

    It could be that any of these ways will work, I don't know, that is why I am asking.

    How many square feet of pen do silkies need anyway? I usally give my leghorns between, 3-4. I live in Canada, so keeping them warm in winter is a consern.

    thanks.
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,279
    3,578
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas

    I guess I was lead to believe that all silkies set! The guy I bought them from is a poultry judge and he said that they were hard to hatch from because they only lay about 10 eggs and then set. He said getting them to stopp setting was a greater problem.


    Each chicken is an individual and you cannot be sure what any chicken will do, just like you cannot be sure what any human will do in a situation. However, Silkies have a reputation for going broody a lot. A whole lot.

    When you let your hens raise thier chicks with the flock, can you only have one hen in the flock that has chicks?

    I don’t like multiple broodies. Some people have them and never have a problem. Some of the potential problems with multiple broodies. If two broodies can get too each other’s nests, they may steal eggs from each other. That can be a real problem if they have separate hatch dates. If they can get to each other, they may set in the wrong nest, either fighting to keep the other hen out or sharing the nest and eggs. If one broody hears chicks hatching under the other broody, she may abandon her nest and go to the hatching chicks. There she may help the other broody hatch and raise the chicks or they may fight over the chicks and unhatched eggs with chicks or eggs being damaged. Sometimes one broody will kill the chicks that hatch under the other broody. Sometimes, even if there is a significant difference in the age of the chicks, one broody will try to take the chicks away from another broody and add them to her own brood. As I said, some people never have any of these problems, but all these things have happened.

    I was reading that the mature hens will leave the chicks alone, but one broody will often kill the other broodys chicks. Is that true? are there specific management principals to keep them getting along?

    Let’s go back to the idea that all chickens are individuals. Some mature hens will try to kill chicks. Some will not. Some broodies will try to kill other hen’s chicks. Some will not. Some broodies kill their own chicks. The only management techniques I am aware of to handle this is to give the Mama hen enough room to work with to protect her babies and try to keep broodies separated, either in space or time. Let me add that I normally worry more about other hens than roosters. Again, each is an individual, but my experience has been that a good rooster will take care of all members of his flock. I've had broodies leave some of their chicks with a rooster while they took the rest out for a stroll. I've had roosters move into an area and hang around when some chicks get separated from Mama due to them getting on the wrong side of a fence. Not all roosters are good and some are definitely bad, but I've had good experiences with roosters and chicks. Not everybody has.

    I was thinking about building some 24" X 30" boxes, that when a hen set, I could set the box over her nest and put her food and water in it. I read of another place where when thier hen set they took a piece of 1''x1''x 24'' welded wire 8 feet long, tyraped the ends together, and set the circle of wire over the nest. That way they aren't moved, but I would think that thier pen would have to be very large to accomadate all of those pens/ cages.
    It could be that any of these ways will work, I don't know, that is why I am asking.


    All these and many other ways can work. It depends on how much room you have and the individual situation. One word of caution. I advise to not set up a situation where chicks can mingle with the flock without Mama there to protect them, like maybe having a wire enclosure with openings big enough to keep Mama in but let the chicks out.

    How many square feet of pen do silkies need anyway? I usally give my leghorns between, 3-4. I live in Canada, so keeping them warm in winter is a consern.

    I don’t have Silkies so I’ll leave this to others.
     
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

    4,852
    32
    249
    May 23, 2009
    DFW
    Quote:The problem I had is that my broodies fought with each other. I guess each one saw the other as a potential threat to her chicks. The only way I was able to keep peace was to keep each hen with her chicks separate from the others. Fortunately, with a little juggling around, I had enough housing to do that.

    I think it's hormonal, but the broody impact has had long lasting implications in my flock. The first hen to finish raising her chicks is the biggest hen, and was the highest ranking one before my three hens started to set. But she finished raising her chicks and her hormones went back to normal first. She's now the lowest ranking hen, I think because her two half sisters had more broody hormones still circulating in them when I reintegrated the hens. The hen who was last to finish raising chicks is now the top hen; she kicked some serious butt when she returned to the small flock. Before she went broody, she was the hen everybody picked on. Go figure!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by