What to do w/broody hen?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by lizardz, May 9, 2008.

  1. lizardz

    lizardz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 18, 2007
    Grass Valley, CA
    One of my BO hens has gone broody (not an uncommon occurrence), and I'm thinking of sliding some chicks under her to see if she'll take them. She is currently in one of the nesting boxes which is about 18" off the floor. There is no ramp for them to get to the boxes, they just jump. So, here are my questions - Should I --
    A) leave her where she is, slide chicks under her and leave her in the coop/run w/the other chickens?
    B) Put a large cage I have on the coop floor, bed it down and try to relocate her there, and leave her in the coop/run?
    C) Create another area and temporary separate run for them?
    Other questions I have -
    If the answer is to move her, are there things I should do to keep her from breaking up? She actually is not sitting on any eggs [​IMG] should I give her a couple if I move here? She's been broody about 5 days now - can I slip chicks in at any time or do I need to wait longer? Do the chicks need to be day-olds or can they be older?
    Sorry this is so long, just lots of questions - thanks for your input!
    Liz
     
  2. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    While some broodies can and have successfully incubated eggs and raised families of chicks in the same pen with other adult chickens, it's not always the ideal situation. Other hens can interrupt the broody, kick her off the nest & lay their eggs there, distract the broody so she leaves the eggs to cool or goes back to another nest by mistake. Also, while some mama hens are fierce enough to protect all their babes from the pecks of other adults, there is always that risk of injury/death of the chicks by other adult birds.

    I think it would be best to put some fake eggs/golf balls under her -- just place them next to her breast & she should tuck them in place herself. Then try to move her & the fake eggs after dark, to see if she'll stick with them. It's easiest if you can move her together with her nest box, move the whole thing. But if not, set up her new box, move the eggs in, then place her on top. Do this all at night. I like to keep my broodies in a nice dark cozy place, enclosed for themselves, with food & water available & a little bit of ground for pooping & scratching.

    If she sticks with the fake eggs in the new place, then you can switch them with fertile eggs for her to incubate. I've never tried giving a broody hen hatched chicks. It seems like a gamble, if she rejects them then you'll have to tend to them all. Perhaps others have done this with success with their hens, but all mine have wanted nothing to do with chicks they didn't personally hatch. But they all were happy to incubate any & everybody's eggs, including wooden or plastic ones and even golf balls.

    Wouldn't it be nice if we could get our hens to incubate dimes and hatch them out as dollars?
     
  3. gardener

    gardener Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2007
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    I going to try to give some chicks to my broody silkie after this weekend, she has been broody for almost three weeks now. I think you should wait a couple more weeks then slip some chicks under her at night.
    I will try to keep an update on how my hen does with the chicks on this/your post.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2008
  4. gardener

    gardener Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2007
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    Ok, tonight i placed 3 chicks about 3 days old in a margerine tub with vents and set it next to the broody so she could hear the peeps and get used to their sounds. I left them like this for about an hour. Then I went in and removed the chicks from the tub and placed one at a time under her while removing a golf ball on the way out. The first on went well and the second time I tried it she pecked at me, but I continued through placing the chick and removing a golf ball and then the third. I am hoping she was pecking at me the intruder and trying to protect her precious new chicks. After they were placed she seemed to be content just sitting on the peeping chicks. Now its just anxiously wait and see what she is doing in the morning.
     
  5. gardener

    gardener Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2007
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    This morning I opened the coop she was still sitting on the chicks. I went back out a bit later and heard a bunch of cackling like hens do around laying time. She was in one corner and the chicks in the opposite corner. the hen was acting like she wanted out of the cage. I watched for awhile and she calmed down and as the chicks were peeping loudly now, the hen sat down and started making purring sounds. I watched this for a few minutes and the chicks were not moving from their corner so I took one and moved it near momma hen,
    the chick just sat next to her and the other chicks followed towards the hen now one at a time. The hen gave them a few pecks to encourage them under her and all seem to be happy now.
     
  6. gardener

    gardener Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 8, 2007
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    If anyone is wondering, the chicks go in and out from under the hen looking very alert and exploring the cage they are in. Momma hen seems to be doing a good job.
     

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