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What is a good size coop for broody hen and chicks?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by zephyr66, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. zephyr66

    zephyr66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    hi all! i have a broody RIR hen and she is sitting on 8 eggs. She is in the main coop with 8 other hens and a rooster, but I will move her out as soon as her chicks hatch. This will be my first time doing this and I need to make a coop for her and the chicks. What is a standard or good size for the coop area where the shelter and nest will be and attached run area? How long should I keep the mom with the chicks until mom should/can be put back in main coop and where chicks will be okay by themselves? If anyone has some easy designs for what I'm trying to do, I'd really appreciate it. I've looked through the coop designs, but am a bit overwhelmed cause I dont' know what size I should be looking at. Thanks!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm not sure how to respond since I don't know your reasons or goals in separating them. Do you plan for this to be a permanently separated flock, are you growing them to butchering age, are you giving them away or selling them once they are grown out? Why are you doing this? We have to assume all 8 eggs will hatch. Sure hope they all do!!

    As far as when you can or should separater them. Most chicks are fully feathered out at 4 to 5 weeks. They can get along in an unheated coop and run without Mama after that. Some people have had broodies that wean their chicks at a younger age and they do fine, but that is usually in the summer when the weather is pretty nice. I've had broodies wean their chicks anywhere from 4 to 9 weeks. One stopped sleeping with the chicks at 5 weeks and went back to roosting with her buddies but still hung around the chicks during the day and took care of them for another two weeks. There is no set time or method for a broody to wean her chicks. I think it depends on the weather and on her broody instincts. They are all different.

    I normally separate my broodies with new chicks for a couple of days, just long enough for them to get used to eating and drink with no interference from the other big chickens, then let them loose with the rest of the flock. I prefer Mama to take care of the integration issues for them. They still have to handle their own pecking order issues as they mature, but they have to do that anyway. One advantage I have is that I free range mine so Mama has a lot of space to work with.

    Good luck!
     
  3. zephyr66

    zephyr66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 5, 2009
    Ramona, CA
    thanks for the response about separating my chicks and hen from rest of flock. you asked me why i'm separating them? i thought i was supposed to do that to protect the chicks? my chickens are able to free range but only when i'm out there with them working on the property during the weekend. i live in the high desert in southern california and coyotes are EVERYWHERE and they would all be taken out in no time if free ranged. so, i have a 6x10 coop and an additional run that is 300sf (15' x 15'). i have 9 hens total and a rooster. mamma hen is in the main coop on one of the nesting boxes setting now and i thought as soon as they hatched it was best to separate them. believe me, it would be much easier if i didn't have to! do you think it's best to just keep momma and the chicks separated for a few days and then let them all be integrated? the coop floor is pine - deep litter method and outside is "desert sand". feeders are raised so chicks wouldn't have access to adult feed (i heard their kidneys can't handle that). what are your thoughts? do you think the chicks might be safe letting them all integrate? thank you so much! btw, we hope to move to arkansas ... jasper near harrison. beautiful state you live in! california has gone down the tubes.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    They are living animals and anything can happen. Nobody can give you guarantees either way.

    I separate mine for a couple of days after Mama brings them off the nest. They seem to have an easier time finding the food and water that way. I find that if I put food or water on the ground where it is easier for the chicks to get to it, the adult birds treat it as candy and wipe it out, even if it is the same feed as they have in their feeder. After the chicks have learned to eat and drink, they adults still do it but it is easier for the chicks to learn. I made this (I know it needs some repair) to give the chicks a place to get feed that the adults can't wipe out once they are with the flock. I put one of those red chick feeders under this. The adults cannot get their heads through it to reach the feed and the chicks can go in from either end. The chicks usually stop using this around three weeks age. They'd rather eat what the big girls eat.

    [​IMG]

    When I have chicks, I feed the entire flock the same thing. My choices are either 20% Starter/Grower or 15% Grower/Finisher so my choice is a bit limited. The adult hens lay well on either, with oyster shells on the side. Since they free range, the feed I give them is not as critical as it would be with someone who kept them penned up. I've seen Mama take feed out of the higher feeder to give to her chicks. Within a week or so the little ones can fly up there and eat on their own anyway.

    You are probably concerned with the other adults harming the chicks. It can happen. Some flocks have one or more hens that seem to make it their life's work to kill baby chicks. A good Mama will have such a protective attitude that she will stop this, but not all Mamas are good. Not all adult chickens will try to kill chicks. It depends on the adult's personality. Some broodies have been known to kill their own chicks. They are all individuals with their own personalities. Nobody can tell you for sure what will happen.

    I have had two week old chicks leave Mama's protection and go eat out of the big girl's feeder, standing right beside some big girls. Sometimes the big girls ignore them. Usually, an adult hen will give the chick pretty good peck, reminding it that according to chicken etiquette it is bad manners for inferiors like the chick to eat with its pecking order betters. (I've seen older hens give other adults lower in the pecking order the same type of peck). When this happens the chick runs back to Mama as fast as it can with both wings flapping. Mama usually ignores this type of pecking. Maybe it takes a flock to teach chicken etiquette to chicks.

    There is another type of pecking. This is where the other hen tries to kill the chick. This is normally where you see how bad an attitude a Mama hen can have.

    Not all roosters are good, but I've had the hens cause more problems than the roosters. For example, more than once, I've had a broody hen go out a gate and make a hard turn. Not all the chicks make it out the gate so they try to follow her back along the fence. The result is that the chicks are separated from the broody with a fence in between. They cannot figure out to go back to the gate. I've had a rooster quit what it was doing and go lay down with the separated chicks, watching them until Mama can figure out what to do. Not all roosters are going to be that protective of chicks. I'm sure some can be dangerous to chicks. Again, I cannot guarantee what will happen with yours.

    Something to expect. If you separate them for a couple of days, Mama will probably want to take her babies back to that area for them to spend the night. It needs to be predator proof anyway so that is OK. At some point, she will move back into the coop with them or you can put them in the coop after they go to bed and she'll make the switch herself pretty quickly. I've had them take their babies into a nest at night but usually they sleep in a pile in a corner of the coop. At about 4 weeks, mine usually start to roost, usually moving to the top of the nest boxes for a while but pretty soon moving to the roosts. Once Mama stops sleeping with them and moves back to sleeping with her buddies, leaving the chicks are on their own. It is pecking order business and they are at the bottom. Some of the hens let them know they are at the bottom. I've never had one get hurt at this phase but I have had some stop sleeping on the roosts, either moving back to the top of the nest boxes until they mature some more or some even try to roost outside the coop. This has happened to me with brooder raised chicks and broody raised chicks. It is just pecking order business.

    I prefer to let Mama raise them with the flock instead of in isolation. I'm not even sure it is a lot easier on me with some of the dumb things a broody can do, but I think for me the risks are less this way than handling integration without Mama's help. There are risks each way.
     
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  5. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last year i had hens raise chicks in main coop. Not again I lost some to hens jumping off perch and landing on chicks. Right now I am planning looking at coops for a broody only coop. Since many of mine go broody I am planning on 3 or four. I am looking at 4x6 and 4x8. For one hen I would think 4x4 would be plenty large.
     
  6. kuntrygirl

    kuntrygirl Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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    Quote:Cyberat, we all learn from experience. I agree with you as far as looking at coops for a broody only coop. That is how I am set up.


    Zephyr66 - As soon as I know that my girls are broody, I IMMEDIATELY remove them from the other hens and place them in a brooder, especially designed for my broody hens. Keeping a broody hen with other hens is considered not a good idea in my opinion. A broody hen needs to be in a quiet, isolated and safe area where no one can bother her. This is where I put my girls. Pics Below.

    The brooders are immediately placed in one of these brooders.
    [​IMG]

    No room at the Brooder Inn
    [​IMG]

    Mama with babies.
    [​IMG]


    Are the eggs under the RIR marked? What if other hens climb in the nesting box with her and lay eggs? What type of set up do you have now for your broody hens?

    What if you are not there when the chicks hatch? The mama will have to fight to protect the babies from the other hens. They could be in possible danger.

    Ridgerunner wrote: Some flocks have one or more hens that seem to make it their life's work to kill baby chicks.

    Ridgerunner is absolutely right about that.


    I allow my chicks to be with the mama until the mama decides that she doesn't want them around anymore. However, I do not introduce the mama and the chicks to the rest of the flock for a few weeks. When I decide to introduce them to the entire flock, I usually do it on a Saturday when I am there. I allow the chicks and mama to roam and the mama teaches them how to hunt and look for bugs and how to scratch. As it gets later, the mama will find a place in the chicken house and the babies will follow. I allow this to happen the entire weekend. When I am not there, I put them in their own chicken stall away from the others. (Pic Below)

    Chicken Stall where mama and babies are during the day when I am not home.
    [​IMG]


    When I feel comfortable that the babies are old enough and that they will be safe, I allow them to be with the rest of the flock without me being there. It seems to work for me.

    I wish that I could help you with measurements, etc because I don't know what you have in mind.​
     

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