Two hens sitting in nestbox hatching a clutch of eggs

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Phyrst, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. Phyrst

    Phyrst Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2012
    eastern shore of MD
    I've been searching through the site and have some questions I'd love to get opinions about. I hope someone out there can give me some good advice as I'm stumped! I have a 14-month old Silkie hen that has gone broody. She's done this a lot so it's not the first time. I wouldn't mind more chicks but finding homes for the roos is a terrible problem for me. This Silkie does not mate with my Silkie roo. Just when she started laying eggs, I noticed she had a prolapsed vent so I separated her to give her time to heal. It was quite problematic and involved a lot of extra work but I was more concerned with her health than anything else. After a few weeks she seemed all better so I slowly introduced her back to the flock. She was the low hen on the totem pole even though all my chickens are bantams, some are the small Seramas. I have never seen her mate with the one Silkie roo I have. She avoids him like the plague! She doesn't lay eggs either so she's more a pet than anything. But every month she goes broody and starts sitting on the eggs my other hens lay. I used to just take the eggs away until I decided back in June to see how she did with hatching. I've read a lot on this site about hen instincts and good mothers versus bad ones. This Silkie hen sure has a strong drive to brood but there's a hitch - she lets another hen sit on the same nest with her while she is brooding a clutch of eggs. In June I happened to check on her just when 2 chicks had hatched. I don't know which hen started the pecking, but the first chick was killed by one of the hens. I waited till the next chick hatched and this time realized both hens were more or less fighting over it. I stayed close enough that I could remove every chick that hatched and they went straight into a brooder. No more problems after that! It was a lot more work keeping those chicks separate from her and the flock and a lot of worry integrating them into the flock. This time I want more Serama chicks so when this Silkie hen began to sit the eggs, I thought maybe this time, she would do better; be more mature and hopefully raise the chicks herself. But a week after she began brooding, a different hen from the flock moved into the nest box with her. I've read where some people say to keep hens separate when sitting on egg clutches and then some people say two hens have a better chance at raising the chicks. I don't know what to do. I'm afraid of this Silkie hen's past history. But it may have been the other hen that was the problem. I've tried to keep the Silkie hen alone this time, but I'm not set up to separate her totally. My coop just isn't built that way. The other broody hen is just as determined to sit the eggs as the Silkie hen. The two hens seem to get a long good otherwise. Tonight I found 2 chicks had hatched under these two hens. The chicks seem fine and healthy. There are 6 other eggs left. After waiting and hoping all summer for baby chicks to hatch from one of our hens, I didn't want to chance a repeat of what happened before. I have a rather unusual situation at home - my husband is not at home throughout the week. It makes for busy weekends! We try to cram a week of living into two days. Home projects are prioritized. Tonight we agreed that the smartest thing to do was to get the Silkie momma hen separated where none of the flock could bother her or her new chicks. DH fashioned a wire pen around the Silkie hen to keep her separated. There's room for food and water in the pen with momma Silkie. But I was not prepared for the other hen's reaction. She is frantic. I feel bad for her. She keeps running around trying to get to the Silkie hen's nest. She's actually making noises that sound just like crying! Now I feel cruel! I just wanted a few Serama chicks - not the upheaval I've created! I read on here that some mother hens just do not have the right instincts to raise chicks. Some hens never get it right. Then there's plenty of stories of hens that suddenly seem to know just what to do, even after a bad hatching. I guess there's always hope! I'd love to hear opinions on what you think of my situation. I realize I should have separated the hens before the chicks started hatching. That could have prevented this problem. Even though I've raised chickens for most of my life, I'm still learning every day more and more about them. But I hate the thought that the other hen is so miserable. She even flew up into my arms at one point! Please let me know how you feel. I want to do what's best for my chickens - not what I want most.
  2. loveourbirds

    loveourbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2013
    waverly ohio
    it sounds to me like your doing the right things. keep up the good work, and keep us updated.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by