What's Your Bet???

ClareScifi

Songster
8 Years
Mar 30, 2011
1,888
52
204
I have staggered fertilized eggs under my Bantam, due to hatch soon, and they are peeping and chirping already. Two are due to hatch tonight/tomorrow, one the following day, and one the following day. They are not her eggs; they are the fertilized eggs of full-sized hens she grew up with.

Do you think she will abandon the eggs after the first two hatch, or do you think she will see all 4 eggs through to hatching?

Has anyone had experience with this kind of thing before? If so, I'd love to hear your stories.

I don't know whether I should plan to grab the first 3 chicks that hatch and take them inside under a heat lamp in hopes she will stay on the nest? Or whether doing so will make her mad and cause her to abandon the nest, looking for them?

What do you think?

Also, she is a first-time mother, a step-mama hen. Do you think the rambunctiousness of the new chicks could cause her to go crazy and try to peck some of them to death?

I am wondering whether I should plan to stay up all night with her, in case any of these bad scenarios should try to play out, in an attempt to fend them off?
 

Nocila

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 23, 2012
225
8
83
Hens expect the eggs to vary a bit in hatching dates, so as long as they are expected to hatch within a few days of each other, she should sit on the eggs until they all hatch.

I've worked with broody hens a few times, and, in all honesty, I've pushed the limits a few times. When we get broody hens, we tend to graft chicks to the mama (in other words, we put chicks under a broody hen after a few weeks of sitting). We've put chicks that were up to a week old under our hens, and this year, we might try to speed things up, and give one of our broodies chicks after just 1 or 2 weeks.

Hens tend to be quite protective of their chicks, so it would be very unlikely that she would reject her chicks, especially if she hatched them herself! In my experience, having a hen take care of the chicks is the best way to raise chicks, as the chicks are much more likely to be accepted by the rest of the flock when introduced by a mother hen.

I tend to put my hens in cat carriers/large cages when they are broody/have chicks, as the chicks tend to be safer for the first few weeks away from the other birds (they can't fall out of the nest, and they are less likely to be attacked by other birds), but once the chicks start to outgrow the cat carrier or are beginning to wander out from mama, then I start letting them in with the rest of the coop, where they can start earning their place in the pecking order (through mama, of course!).

I wish you luck with your new chicks!
 

ClareScifi

Songster
8 Years
Mar 30, 2011
1,888
52
204
Thanks so much for the great advice, Nocila! I hadn't thought about the reintroduction issue. You are right!
 

Nocila

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 23, 2012
225
8
83
You're welcome!

Keeping the chicks under mama is great, as it takes a lot less work from you, and they can be introduced a lot sooner without much risk. Mama will protect her chicks from the other birds, and keep them warm, so as long as the chicks can get around the coop, and not squeeze out of the chicken wire, they should be okay to move back into the coop.
 
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