what to do after broody hen hatches chicks

Sep 20, 2017
Washington State
We have a broody hen, Chanterelle, who has been sitting on eggs for 1 week now (today is Day 7). She cracked/crushed most of the first batch of eggs after 2-3 days so we ended up removing all the eggs from under her, replacing the bedding in the nest box, and giving her a bath before letting her start over with a fresh batch of eggs. So far she seems to be doing all right (knock on wood).

We are not planning to add chicks to our flock at this point but our friends said they would take them, which is why we decided to let Chanterelle keep the eggs. My question is: what is the best thing to do once the chicks hatch? I've heard that other hens can kill baby chicks so it looks like simply leaving the mama hen and the chicks in the coop with everyone else is not an option. (Also the nest box is a few feet off the ground, accessible via a ramp, and I worry that the chicks might fall out.) Should we have our friends come get the chicks right away? Or should we move Chanterelle and the babies to a different coop so she can raise them for a few weeks? We have a second coop in the back yard that is currently empty. If we go this route, when is a good time to take the chicks away from her? And, will the other chickens accept Chanterelle back into the flock after she was away for some time? The coops are across the yard from each other and the chickens can see each other if they are out in the attached run but I don't know if that will help them "remember" her. Plus she may spend most of her time inside with the babies anyway.
Separate defiantly.
I would let her hatch them out raise them and whenever she starts Rearing them off is the time to take them,usually starts at about seven weeks,some go longer.If she hasn’t reared them off by three months,take them from her and have your friends pick them up,you can let them come get them right away but you really shouldn’t do it right away give them all a day to just settle,dry off,warm up a little and grow a bit,maybe give them to the friend say about three and old.

If you separate her just make a pen with an outdoor area so she can go outside and see the other birds.Even If they can see each other her being separated can still cause her to have to fight for her place again.
I've never had other hens harm chicks, and the rooster usually protects and helps teach them how to be chickens. Mama hen will defend them with a vengeance, nothing as ornery as a broody hen. Anyway the rest of the flock should be fine with them. I've never had any problems even with a silkie broody in a flock of large fowl.
They should get down out of the nest box just fine mine always do. Will they have a soft landing? After they get out broody will sit on them on the floor of the coop.
I've actually had better luck integrating them when the chicks are little. I had one mama that insisted on hatching in the general population and had her babies out with the flock within 24 hours. I've had others that have been kept separate within the coop, and let broody and babies out within a week. Same scenario - the mamas were still hormonal and protective and NOBODY messed with their babies. There really seems to be less drama when they get integrated early.

I used to separate broody and babies and not integrate them until 6-8 weeks, or whenever mama decided it was time to wean them. The problem was, by that time the mama was no longer protective of them and they had to work their way into the flock on their own. The first year I integrated little babies, the hen was killed by a raccoon when the chicks were just 5 weeks old. Because they were integrated early, they were already part of the flock instead of trying to fit in later.

Your friends could just take the chicks right after they hatch, but that might be stressful for your hen. She'll get over it, though.

Don't worry about the nest box. I've had hens hatch in nests off the ground. She'll usually stay in the nest for a day after hatching. You can put a board or something across the bottom of the nest, and then take them out the next day, when you're sure that all that are going to hatch are done. (That's been my experience with broodies, anyway. The chicks all hatch within 24 hours. The ones that don't are not going to.)

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