(Somewhat) unexpected hatchlings

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by tomwinfl, May 20, 2017.

  1. tomwinfl

    tomwinfl Just Hatched

    Apr 3, 2017
    Our broody hen has some hatchlings! They're a cross from a Rhode Island Red rooster and Golden Comet hens. We're not sure what to do; they're in a nesting box 4 feet off the ground, and there are several more eggs to hatch yet. Should we try to move mom, eggs and chicks to an empty coop, or to the brooder? (She's been pretty adamant about staying put up tp now.) Should we separate the chicks from the brooding hen? We also have the option of leaving them be and moving the rest of the flock to another coop, although I'm a little concerned about the chicks falling out of the nesting box. Sorry for my ignorance, but we weren't exactly trying to make this happen; We've been raising layers and meat birds for a couple of years, but we've always bought day-old chicks in the past. I know how to raise hatchlings without a mother hen, just not sure what to do in this situation.
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Depending on the security of the nest, I'd let momma and chicks stay put. After the chicks are 2 days old, I'd move momma and chicks to ground level and discard any remaining eggs. She will not sit on the eggs, once you have moved her from her nest.

    Some people prefer to keep the hen and chicks segregated from the main flock, but within the coop whereas others simply put momma and chicks at ground level in the coop (with access to food and water) and let momma do her thing. A lot depends on the age and temperament of your flock. Do what you feel is best.
    bobbi-j likes this.
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I totally agree with this. The chicks will be fine in the nest for a couple of days. If mama decides to leave the nest, she may boot them out. While I have not personally seen this, other experienced chicken keepers have said this will not hurt the chicks - especially if there is thick bedding under the nest. Have you ever seen how high up a Wood Duck nests? That's how they get their babies out of the nest - just pop 'em out. They do just fine. I would make sure there is a lip of some sort on the nest box, though, to be sure the babies don't accidentally fall out.
    CTKen likes this.
  4. 13ChickenGirl

    13ChickenGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2017
    When our chicks hatched we right away moved them to a large kennel then let them out to walk around. Also CONGRATS!!! New chicks are so exciting!!!
  5. 13ChickenGirl

    13ChickenGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2017
    Also is your hen protective? If so you should be fine letting them free in the coop she should protect them fine. We had a bantam who got beat up a lot and we had to separate her from the flock to keep her chicks safe.
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'm probably one of the people Bobbi is talking about. I've seen a broody hen get her chicks out of a ten feet high hay loft. Momma said jump and they did, then bounced up and ran to her. I regularly allow hens to hatch in nests 2-1/2 to 3 feet off the coop floor. I let Momma decide when to take the chicks off the nest, she gets them to the coop floor without any help from me. In general, I find the less I interfere with Momma the less harm I do. If you saw a video of how baby chicks are handled at hatcheries on those conveyor belts you'd see that they can take some pretty rough treatment, worse than a fall. If you've ever seen a chick get in the way of Momma scratching you'd see that they can take pretty rough treatment. They sometimes go flying a few feet. The fall isn't what I worry about.

    I once had a hen hatch in a cat litter bucket, the top was 7-1/2" x 11-1/2". That was about 3' off the coop floor. Four different times I had to pick a chick up and put it back in the nest with Momma. The problem was that baby chicks like to climb up on Momma's back while they are waiting for later chicks to hatch. That hen was sitting so close to the edge of the nest that when the chick fell off it missed the nest. If the broody hen is sitting so close to the edge of the nest that a chick could miss the nest when it falls off her back I'd have a concern. Not about the fall but because the chick can't get back up to where Momma is.

    I let my broody hens hatch with the flock and raise the chicks with the flock. My coop is on the ground and I have a lot of room, inside the coop and outside. I put food and water on the coop floor where the chicks can get to it and pretty much leave everything else up to Momma. This way Momma takes care of integration.

    Some people isolate hens with their chicks and handle integration of the hen and the chicks themselves at a later date. Some people take chicks away from a broody hen and raise the chicks themselves. There is no right way to do this where every other way is wrong for everyone. They all have their own benefits and risks, conveniences and inconveniences.

    Good luck however you decide.

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