What to do with broody and her babies?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Kaitie09, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a broody now that is sitting on about 15 eggs and I am positive that some will be fertilized and hatch. Broody is extremely aggressive and in order to get her off the nest, I have to put a bucket on her head so she does not go after me. These eggs are due to hatch in 2-3 weeks, or less. I really have just let her have them so I have not done anything with them.

    My question is, can we leave them in the coop, or should we separate them? I am planning on finding new homes for the chicks when I can, because we do not have enough room for more right now. Most of my extended family has chickens, so there will be no problem, except that none of them have the means(like us) to care for the chicks until they can go in the big coop. That basically means that they will be with us until they are around 6 weeks old. I have an indoor grow-out pen that is on the ground and is big enough for broody and her babies, but there is no place to go outside.

    She is in a nesting box now that is 2ft off the ground. Will the babies fall out and die? Also, if we leave them in there, the pop door going outside is 4ft off the ground and has a ramp with a slope of close to 45 degrees. Will they be able to go outside and be able to get back in? Or should I just put them in the inside pen?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    May I suggest you read my post on this thread. It might help you and it will save me some typing. Do mark the eggs and check daily so no new eggs show up.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=213218

    Hens have been hatching chicks with the flock for thousands of years. They are living animals and anything can happen. Usually there are not big problems, but occasionally bad things happen. I cannot tell you what will happen in your case, but I will tell you I have never had a broody that had problems with any other chickens while she was hatching. Others have so it can happen, but my only problem was with the broody herself one time. It would not have mattered if she were by herself or with other chickens.

    Some of the things that can happen. When the hen gets off the nest to take her daily constitutional, another hen may hop on and lay an egg. If the broody comes back and her nest is taken, she might settle on another nest. If she stays there long enough, her eggs could get cold after the laying hen leaves. Sometimes a broody allows another hen to lay in the nest with her. But sometimes she resists and they fight. Eggs can get broken. As long as you mark the eggs and check daily for any that don't belong, the other possible bad things should not happen.

    It is possible during hatch that another hen will try to kill the chicks. It does not happen often and usually Mama will defend her chicks, but it has been known to happen.

    If you have a place to isolate her you can avoid these risks, but that has its own risk. She may break from being broody. The best time to move one is before you give her the eggs you want her to hatch. Your grow out pen may be a good place for that if you do move her.

    I like letting the hen raise the chicks with the flock. She takes care of integration. I don't have to worry about that part of it. But some people keep them separate and handle integration as a separate issue.

    I've seen a hen get her newly hatched chicks out of a 10 feet high hay loft. Mama says jump and they do. None were hurt. I've seen a broody scratching for food and accidently catch a chick. The chick went head over heels for quite a way, hopped up and came back for more. There was a video recently going around that showed one hatchery shooting chicks off the end of a conveyor belt into a bin. Many people were horrified over that video, but the hatcheries are not going to do anything that will hurt a chick. That's how they make their living. Those chicks are a lot tougher than you would think looking at them. There are some things to worry about, but them jumping down two feet would be way down towards the bottom of my worry list.

    I can't comment too much on your 4' high ramp. I suspect they could figure out how to use it, but I don't know for sure. I just don't know how big a concern that is. Since you are going to get rid of them, I'd be tempted to put them in that grow out pen. You'll have to reintegrate Mama when she weans them or you take them away from her, but you can probably manage that. You won't have to integrate the babies so you won't have that worry.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I am a believer in raising them right in the flock. I think the critical time is that 24 hours of hatching time. But really mama was so crabby, that the other hens just tiptoed around her, laid their eggs and got out of there. Mine got out of a 2 foot high nest no problem, and once they were hatched, mama made a new nest on the floor for a couple of weeks.

    She had them outside (healthier) within 2 days, they were eating fresh bugs and scratching almost immediately. They crawled over grass and weeds, so were stronger, but the most important thing, is they figured out belonging to a flock. They quickly learned to keep mama between them and the other hens. Occasionally will get a thump, but no big deal. There is no integration issues for either mama or the chicks.

    I had a wreck in which a predator got my broody hen while I was free ranging. The remaining 9 chicks were 3.5 weeks old. I was afraid that I was going to have to come up with something else, but they just remained with the flock, just part of the flock.

    Way better deal imho. However, if I were you, I would give off some older hens, and keep the younger hens, as they will lay very good all winter, even without added light.

    MrsK
     
  4. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I might be keeping one or two, and a rooster. The oldest hens (broody, her mom, 2 sisters and our roo) are 4 or older and all have stopped laying. The youngest ones just hit 1yr old so they are all in their peak (12), and we recently added 2 pullets (6 weeks) into the mix. I have a soft spot for the older gals so all of them will be here until they die. Our oldest one just passed away a few months ago at 8yrs old. If it were up to me, I would would have a ton. However, the coop was just built last year and can only really hold 20 without problems.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    If you are going to keep some, that's different to your original post. with that new information, I agree. I'd raise them with the flock. Ease of integration is the main reason.
     

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