What's the process like for having a mamma hen raise chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by shadowfox, May 18, 2018.

  1. shadowfox

    shadowfox Songster

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    Oct 22, 2016
    New Mexico
    I've got a hen who we have seen sitting in the nest box for a day and a half now. I assume she is going broody. I'm a first timer, so this would be my first broody hen. How will I know for sure that she is actually broody? If we want her to hatch some chicks how soon do I need to get fertilized eggs underneath her? What's the process for letting mamma hen raise her own chicks? What do I need to provide for the chicks that is different from the regular flock? Do I need to separate mamma and chicks from the rest of the flock?

    Flock details: 6 hens that are about 9 months old. 1 australorp (the broody one), 2 Easter Eggers, 3 Barred Rocks
    I give them fermented feed. Their water is in a 5 gallon bucket with nipples on it.
    Anything else you need to know?
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    You'll know a hen is committed to being broody when she sits in the nest and only leaves it for a couple minutes, then returns right away and glues herself to it for the rest of the day and night. The final test is to take her off the nest and if she runs right back and glues herself to it, she's broody.

    Any time in the following three or four days, you can collect fertilized eggs, but hold them back until you have at least six and then put them under her at the exact same time so they'll all hatch on the same day.

    You might want to sequester her from the other layers so they don't add any of their eggs to her clutch. They also can end up breaking her eggs if they have access to her nest.

    When the chicks hatch, she will start eating again and feed the chicks whatever she's eating. So you want to give her chick starter or an all flock feed, not layer, but fermented is fine. The water should be in a container down low so the chicks can reach it, but be careful it's not large enough for them to drown in.

    The hen will take her chicks outside before the week is up and show them around and she'll let the flock know she'll kick butt if anyone tries to harm a chick, but keep an eye on her and the little ones until you see how she does.
     
  3. shadowfox

    shadowfox Songster

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    Oct 22, 2016
    New Mexico
    Why 6 eggs?

    Is there a good way to sequester her without moving the nest boxes? My two nest boxes are connected to each other. Would a curtain or covering of some sort work well enough?
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

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    The number of eggs depends on how many chicks you want and how many eggs your broody hen can cover. My broody hen is rather petite and can only cover about six large eggs. Any more than than my broody will end up leaving an egg or two out in the cold. That reduces the chances of having all the eggs hatch. Some hens are large and can cover a dozen eggs. Also, if you only wish to have two or three chicks, I recommend giving your hen six in case not all of them hatch.

    Some eggs may end up being unfertilized, and sometimes an embryo dies part way through gestation. So account for that.

    The point of sequestering a broody hen is so the other hens can't access her nest to create mischief. A curtain isn't going to keep them out. After the chicks hatch, some hens look at them as tasty morsels of food. A curtain won't protect them. You need a barrier. You can create a nest out of almost anything and it need not be permanent. A nest on the floor is ideal since baby chicks are unable to jump over a couple inches for the first two weeks. After that, chicks can go just about anywhere.
     
    Shezadandy likes this.

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