What to expect if broody hen gets a hatch

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by 2dancingrats, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. 2dancingrats

    2dancingrats Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She's broody all right. Been sitting for two weeks now. She is on eggs in a nest box that is about 4ft off the floor. Sooo, what will she do if they hatch? Will she be able to get the chick up and down from the box? Will she protect them from the rest of the flock? Do I need to set a box up on the floor if they hatch? I've had broody geese the past 3 springs but no one has been successful. Is it the same way with chickens? We have a rooster, but have no way to know if the eggs she's on are fertile. Same with the geese but they will sit for weeks and when they finally give up I always break the eggs. Not one has ever had any sign that the geese were heading for parenthood. -- Thank you!

    One chick hatched. Can I move her nest at this time?
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2014
  2. twunker

    twunker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If the box is four feet of the ground, the chicks will be able to jump down, but not back up. Would suggest putting some straw under the nest box so when the babies jumps, they are less likely to get hurt. Regarding if she will protect the babies. She will protect them. If you want to set up a box for the babies and mom, you can. It would be a good idea so they will be comfortable. If the chickens are in a small run, you might want to separate the mom and the babies from the flock.
     
  3. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I myself would be worried about that height when it comes time for her to take the babies out. My highest broody box is about 18"ish above the litter and the hens do get the babies out of it alright. However, they cannot get back in and usually move to the lower box after coming out for the first time. If possible, I'd suggest moving her to a lower nest. If I have a broody who starts setting in an inconvenient place, I first block the box opening so she can't get back out. Then I carefully move her eggs into that box, and then move her onto them as calmly as I can manage. I only leave the block up until she calms down and realizes she's got all her eggs right there with her.

    If the rooster is doing his job and you have a good roo/hen ratio, then you've got good odds they are fertile. No way to tell if any particular one is fertile except to let it incubate and see if it grows. Other than breaking it open that is. But then, of course, you can't unbreak it to incubate. [​IMG] You could break open several other eggs that you aren't going to incubate and check for fertility. That would give you a better idea how good a job your rooster is doing.

    If your hen turns out to be a good mama, then she will protect her babies from anyone and everyone. Woe to anything that even wants to get a closer look, including flock mates. If you have a good rooster, he should also help to keep a protective eye out for the babies. Mine always do.

    Good look with your hatch! Keep us posted on how it goes. [​IMG]
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You’ll find there are many different opinions on many different things on this forum. I’ve seen a hen get chicks down form a 10’ high hay loft. She said jump and they did, then bounced up and ran to her. I personally would not worry about a nest four feet off the floor. She’ll get them down. I’m sure there are others on here that will freak out about that and would insist you have to move them yourself.

    There is one thing about your nest though that I don’t know. How is it made? It is pretty normal for the chicks that hatch first to climb on Mama’s back. If the nest is pretty small so Mama sits pretty close to the edge, that chick might fall out of the nest when it falls off her back. The fall won’t hurt it but the chick can’t get back up there. Mama has to decide if she is going to abandon the nest to go take care of that chick or ignore that chick. Neither choice is good. That’s really the only concern I have and that doesn’t have much to do with the height.

    At night she will not take them back to that high nest. She will most likely take them to a corner of the coop and keep them there overnight. You can try putting some type of box or nest on the floor if you wish, it won’t hurt. She might or might not use it.

    Hens have been raising chicks with the flock for thousands of years. They are not extinct yet. You’re dealing with living animals so no one can give you any guarantees, but most broody hens will defend their chicks very well. I’ve never seen an adult rooster threaten baby chicks in any way. Now if you wait until they are adolescents to introduce them, he might take a different attitude, but a rooster will often help Mama take care of the babies, not threaten them.

    The other hens normally leave them alone. If a chick invades another hen’s personal space, that hen might peck it to teach it that it is bad chicken etiquette to do that. Mama will normally not be bothered by this. But if a hen threatens her chick in any way Mama simply whips butt. As long as Mama is around to defend the chicks the other hens aren’t that much of a threat.

    There are a couple of things you can do about fertile eggs. You can go down there after dark and candle some eggs. There is a section in the Learning Center up top of this page that has information on that or you can search online.

    If you open some of the other eggs the hens are laying you can look for the bull’s eye. If the other eggs have the bull’s eye then it is real good odds these eggs were fertile too. If you have a fairly mature rooster, they are probably fertile. I never candle eggs under a broody and I usually get real good hatches.
     
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  5. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]You are probably absolutely right about that. They do seem to be amazingly resilient little creatures. But I readily admit that I fall smack dab into the freak out category. I just can't seem to help myself. I obsess and worry about everything. [​IMG]
     
  6. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    2dancingrats and Aphreal---As Ridgerunner said Alot of different opinions!! For me---being like Aphreal I do not want my chicks to have to jump down 4ft, 3ft or 10ft. To keep this from happeningo ALL my Nest (where I will have broodies) are moveable. If a Hen goes broody and I want to let her continue---I set her with fresh layed Marked eggs and a few days after she was SET, I move her to a hatching pen---nest and all so she and the eggs/chicks will stay safe and also so I do not have to check under her each day for freshed layed eggs---which have to be removed. Doing it this way Aphreal------I do not have to worry!!! She and the chicks stay in this private pen till the chicks are about 3 weeks old. I have set 32 hens so far this season-----this works GREAT.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  7. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like you have a very workable system. I like mine to be in the flock the whole time so I don't need to reintegrate them, but that is entirely personal preference. One difficulty with having them in with the flock the whole time, though, is that you do need to set up a feeding station or something where the chicks can eat as much as they need without all the big gals stealing it all. I've learned the hard way that if you put food in a different dish, even the exact same food, they will go berserk gobbling it like it is the best thing ever until it is gone just because it is stolen. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  8. 2dancingrats

    2dancingrats Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The stolen food thing is so very true :) Sometimes I sprinkle a little on the ground and they are sure its a treat!
     
  9. 2dancingrats

    2dancingrats Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I didn't know about removing the eggs. I do know not all of the eggs under her came from her. I wonder if the other hens are sneaking in and laying them when she takes her food/water break. I've only seen her off the nest twice. Once she was getting off and saw me coming so she jumped back on. The other time, she must've been eating because she wasn't in there but when I took a peek, which is when I discovered she had other people's eggs in there, she came running and threatened me and got right back on. There are nine eggs...should I take some out?
     
  10. Aphrael

    Aphrael Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] Mine too! Silly critters. I did a little experiment on them once. I put scratch in their feeder. They eyeballed it, pecked it a few times and then came over to me looking like "alright where is the good stuff". I then took the exact same scratch and tossed it out over the yard and they went bonkers. Not a crumb was left. [​IMG]
     

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