When and how are natural broody-hatched chickes fully integrated?

Mike592

In the Brooder
6 Years
Jun 26, 2013
49
1
34
SW Ohio
Hi everyone, first time broody hatcher here with some questions.

I know Mama hen should hopefully do a good job protecting the chicks and integrating them into the flock. I have her in a segregated nesting box down in the chicken run in a small section fenced off from the rest of the run. So everyone will be able to see each other and get acquainted when the eggs hatch.

My plan is to leave the babies and mother fenced off for about a week or so, and then remove the fence and let Mama do her thing.

But I'm not sure exactly what the plan is after that. Will Mom and kids naturally sleep in the run in the nesting box until Mom decides they're big enough to climb the ladder and roost with the older flock in the elevated coop? Or is that asking for trouble and I need to keep them segregated at night for a lot longer?

Second, depending how many of our dozen eggs hatch, and how many turn out to be layers instead of cockerels (which we'll grow out and humanely and responsibly cull for the freezer)... I may need to have a second housing option. I can comfortably fit a few more pullets in the coop, but not 12. :) But I want to have the little guys in there as long as there's enough room until they grow out.

Ideally I want to intervene as little as possible and let nature take its course, so long as everyone can be safe and happy.

I'd appreciate your thoughts and suggestions. Thanks!
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Nov 23, 2010
33,937
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You'll likely have 6 pullets, could be more, could be less. Do you have room for that?
Rest easy that the hen will protect them. A week is good. They'll sleep in the nest box at night for quite a while. The hen will start roosting as long as it's warm enough at night for the chicks and they'll keep sleeping in the box or on the floor for a while and eventually get the nerve to jump onto the roost.
 

Mike592

In the Brooder
6 Years
Jun 26, 2013
49
1
34
SW Ohio
Thanks! So it sounds like there might not be much intervention I have to do, huh?

Yes, I have room for six, but that's my upper limit based on my math calculations.

I didn't imagine that Mom would sleep apart from them until they were old enough to roost on their own. Hmmm.

Now I'm wondering if the chicks will abandon their dedicated nest box in the run and try to sleep in the regular nest boxes up in the coop. I guess I'll have to block those off at night if it comes to that, then open them back up for the flock to use.
 

ChickenLegs13

Songster
6 Years
Sep 4, 2013
1,401
196
143
Lower Alabama
They were born into the flock so it should go smoothly. The problem arises when you intro strange new chickens from outside your flock.
As far as where & when they will roost, it's anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months before my hens take their chicks to roost with the rest of the chickens. When they do, the hens will sleep standing up on the roost bar with their wings drooped and the chicks will sleep under, around, and on top of her till they get too big to fit, then they line up on the roost like regular chickens.
 

Mike592

In the Brooder
6 Years
Jun 26, 2013
49
1
34
SW Ohio
OK, it sounds like we may have some cuteness overload going on when they start to roost with Mom.

Do folks recommend having a much lower roost and moving it up as the chicks get bigger? Or will they only want to start to roost when they're big enough to hop onto a 12" high roost? That's all the taller my main roost is. I always figured I wanted all roosts to be at the same height to help negate pecking order troubles. I just want to be sure it's up high enough so they choose that over the nest boxes.
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
Nov 23, 2010
33,937
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St. Louis, MO
Thanks! So it sounds like there might not be much intervention I have to do, huh?

Yes, I have room for six, but that's my upper limit based on my math calculations.

I didn't imagine that Mom would sleep apart from them until they were old enough to roost on their own. Hmmm.

Now I'm wondering if the chicks will abandon their dedicated nest box in the run and try to sleep in the regular nest boxes up in the coop. I guess I'll have to block those off at night if it comes to that, then open them back up for the flock to use.
When it's warm out, I've had good broodies wean them at 2-3 weeks and go to roost.
The chicks will try to follow the mom. If they can't, they'll hunker together somewhere.

They were born into the flock so it should go smoothly. The problem arises when you intro strange new chickens from outside your flock.
As far as where & when they will roost, it's anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months before my hens take their chicks to roost with the rest of the chickens. When they do, the hens will sleep standing up on the roost bar with their wings drooped and the chicks will sleep under, around, and on top of her till they get too big to fit, then they line up on the roost like regular chickens.
X2
There was a lot of wing drooping to protect chicks on the roost this winter. Even the rooster and other hens did it. Wherever a chick jumped to on the roost, whoever was next to them, they'd take them under their wing. It was dang cold.

OK, it sounds like we may have some cuteness overload going on when they start to roost with Mom.

Do folks recommend having a much lower roost and moving it up as the chicks get bigger? Or will they only want to start to roost when they're big enough to hop onto a 12" high roost? That's all the taller my main roost is. I always figured I wanted all roosts to be at the same height to help negate pecking order troubles. I just want to be sure it's up high enough so they choose that over the nest boxes.
12" isn't a high roost so the chicks may roost right away. My nest boxes are about 12" off the floor and the chicks jump in and out. Most of my roosts are about 4' but range from 2' to 7' depending on the building. Most breeds like to sleep as high as possible.
Good points on the pecking order and higher than nests.
 

Mike592

In the Brooder
6 Years
Jun 26, 2013
49
1
34
SW Ohio
To get a better idea, in case it changes anyone's suggestions for me.... here's a pic of my Coop & Run. Broody is sitting in a makeshift nest box down on the ground in the run.

Then there's a pic of inside the elevated coop so you can see the roost and nest box setup (this was just before everyone moved in. There's sand on the floor of the elevated coop now.)





Inside:

 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,998
20,465
926
Holts Summit, Missouri
Mother will roost with offspring usually by time they are ready to leave ground. Mine typically roost on sepate branch or some distance from other hens. High ranking hens gettng better access with all resources when in presence of other flock members. Chicks from low ranking hens often have a rough go unless social group is small. In most intances, once chicks are weaned (as juveniles) they loose rank and must give ground to all adults and even chicks still tended by hens in flock. If in smaller more natural social groups as I run some of my around the house birds, then harem master/ cock / father steps in to defend interest of offspring until they are about 12 weeks old, then they lose rank to adults and anyone still tended by a hen.
 

mithious

Songster
6 Years
May 12, 2013
981
85
158
Great North Woods of New Hampshire
Do you free range them? I have had free range broodies with chicks out at near freezing, as soon as the last one hatched out and dried up. It's fine to let mom do what she is comfortable with and she will move them into the coop, when she is ready. That's the good thing about broody hen's. They do ALL the work with the chicks, integration is NO issue as they are born with the flock and mamma won't let anything happen to the chicks. The flock will help also as another OP said.

You seem to be doing well. Just let them be, and be together and let mamma decide things for the chicks.

If you free range, let um out, if mamma wants to go forage also. She will have chicks in tow and it is great for the chicks. I do keep a closer eye on my free range mamma's. They will sacrifice their life for the chicks, in a predator attack. I also am installing a wire area fencing, this spring, once the ground is dried up. Keeps chickens in, mostly, and pred's out. I'm going with the electric, high voltage
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Have fun with this. IMHO, this is the best way to go, to keep your flock going!

Best of luck!
 

dmwehne

Hatching
6 Years
Aug 13, 2013
9
0
7
We are so happy . My frizzle has been sitting since the end of March - came home today and 2 new babies . Our first chicks . Do We need to separate them and Mom from rest of flock ? They all stay together 5 hens (all different types) and 1 frizzle rooster . Any special food ?
 

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