Surprise chicks-- what the @#$%^ do I do NOW?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sBrickmanHouse, Aug 23, 2008.

  1. sBrickmanHouse

    sBrickmanHouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 10, 2008
    Oh, help!

    We are first-time chicken owners, and have 20 young layers and an accidental rooster we got as day-old chicks from MM back in February. We built them a total palace of a coop, and we've been having a blast watching them grow into shiny, fluffy hens, running around a large fenced part of our property and giving us fabulous eggs. We were a bit stunned to discover as they grew that one of them was a rooster, but Huey's been a good boy, and takes good care of the girls-- we've really grown to appreciate him!

    Well, about six weeks or so ago, one of our hens went rogue, slipping through cracks in the fence and not returning to the coop to sleep with the rest of the flock. As we discovered today, it was because she was earnestly brooding a clutch of eggs under our kitchen window! We went out to do some yardwork, and discovered her motoring about the side yard with 5 day-old chicks in tow and seven eggs in her nest.

    We couldn't leave her and the chicks there, because the night predators in our area would have had a buffet (our chickens free range during the day, but are locked in a total fortress at night-- we were floored that she survived in the open as long as she did).

    So we did our best chicken wrangling maneuvers, and got the hen, the 5 chicks, and the 7 eggs into a dog crate in our family room. We bedded the crate down with a bathtowel, and put a chick waterer and feeder with chick starter inside. The hen immediately gathered the eggs AND chicks underneath her, settled into a corner, and hasn't moved.

    We've been checking on her all the time, and other than seeing an occasional chick peek out from under her, she hasn't moved and absolutely nothing's changed.

    Back in Februrary, thanks to all the advice from this board, we did great raising day olds from the post office with the heat lamp, QuikChik, starter food and all that.

    So now I'm back to begging advice from this board, with a totally different question:

    What do I do with 5 chicks, 1 hen, and 7 eggs in a dog crate in my family room?

    P.S. I am totally going to smack the next person that tells me that the hatchery chicks are bred for egg production and pretty well have the broodiness tendency bred out of them . . .
  2. vfem

    vfem Yoga...The Chicken Pose

    Aug 4, 2008
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    Instinct ALWAYS wins out with animals. I don't care what kind they are. A chicken will Brood, a cat will scratch, and a dog will sniff. Thats just life!

    I guess the question for you is do you want to hatch those eggs she's on? Do you want to seperate the babies or not? I think she would be ok with them in the crate for another couple of weeks. Its going to be longer if you want to see if those eggs will hatch. Though she's been gone for so long they may not be fertile.

    You're probably going to have to ask someone with more knowledge.
  3. SterlingAcres

    SterlingAcres Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 17, 2008
    Poconos, PA
    Let her hatch the rest. [​IMG] Congrats.
  4. Feathers Acres

    Feathers Acres Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 31, 2008
    Well ask yourself.....

    Do you want to keep the chicks?
    If so keep them seperated, because most likely the old hens will peck em to death

    If not
    I would find someone local that will take them

    simple as that

    as far as what to do, your doing everything right just give mom food and water and she will do the rest (Just make sure the waters not deep enough that the babys can drowned in it)
  5. Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2007
    Naples, Florida
    Can you build her a small area inside the coop or run? Maybe use a dog house and make a small enclosed area just for them? I use to use a old rabbit hutch for my broody and her babies. Good Luck
  6. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    If you take a strong light behind the eggs and candle them, you could determine if they are duds (clear and look like raw eggs), died (blood ring will look like a ring of blood around the middle, or still have a chance (fully dark or moving).

    As for momma and her babies. Dog crate, personal run, or just a division in the regular coop would be fine. At a few weeks old, if she is good at keeping her chicks protected and in tow, you could put her with the rest and keep a close eye on them to see if she defends her chicks. My broodies raise their chicks in the coop with the rest, BUT they only have one chick at a time to monitor. If she can keep all 5 safe, you won't have to worry about intergrating the babies in later. She will normally "kick them out" at about 6-8 weeks from which the babies will learn to stay away from the elders and get along in the pecking order.
    1 person likes this.
  7. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Wow, how LUCKY can you get. Chick in February and raising new chicks in August???!!! Wow, that is some great turn around! She could have grandchicky's by next February!

    I'd check the eggs and get rid of the duds and dead ones.

    As a kid we had lots of hens raise their chicks right in the coop.... but I wouldn't let them free range.

    BTW... what breed that you got from McMurray went broody?

    i got their rainbow layers in April... wow could I have chicks in October? We have 18 hens and one crazy looking roo that wasn't a pullet.
  8. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

    Jun 10, 2007
    Douglasville GA
    Quote:It depends on breed tendancies toward broodiness, some breeds are just prone to going broody.

    So yes I'm telling you that the hatchery chicks are bred for egg production and pretty well have the broodiness tendency bred out of them . . . Except the one you have! [​IMG]

    P.S. Be gentle with the smack please. [​IMG]
  9. austinhart123

    austinhart123 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2008
    Los Angeles CA
    make a place for her to raise the chicks for a couple of weeks till there old enough to range, dont take chicks away from their mothers and let them raise the chicks. can we see a pic of them?
  10. Quail_Antwerp

    Quail_Antwerp [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG]Mrs

    Aug 16, 2008
    Quote:Please forgive me, but I am dying with laughter here!!

    My mom and I have ordered from McMurray for the last two years, and my mom has the broodiest chickens I have ever seen!! She had a hen set and hatch a clutch October of last year...and just this month had another chicken hatch 14!! Both from "non broody" breed hens. Now, her partridge rock, who's supposed to be broody and make a good mother, won't even drop an egg! Nor let a roo touch her!

    And not all breeds have had the broodiness bred out of them. Even McMurray advertises some breeds as tendency towards broodiness and make good mothers, but even a non broody breed could have that rare exception hen that has a mindset to be a mother.

    I wish to offer my congratulations on your new chicks. I hope I am half as lucky to have a broody out of the hens I ordered from McMurray!!
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2008

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