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When not to move?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Tikkijane, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. Found a SSH broody way up in the hayloft night before last. Managed to move her and her eggs into the nesting box in the coop. She's got something like 20 eggs under her- no way is the nesting box big enough for her and all those chicks, not to mention it's up high.

    Obviously, I'll need to move her down. Is there a cut off point when they shouldn't be moved? Normally I just grab the eggs, but this is *the meanest* broody I've ever had.

    Anyone familiar with this breed hatching from mama? Do I need to move chicks inside once they hatch? Want to make sure this breed isn't prone to kicking out or killing chicks.

    In a perfect world, I'd move her under the bank of nesting boxes separatet but visual to the others. Because it's winter, can she keep 20ish chicks warm? (I mean, this breed is on the smaller side anyhow, so I worry....) My three silkies are no longer broody, or I'd sneak some eggs under them. *sigh*

    What do y'all think?

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    So many different issues here. I’ll tackle a few of them.

    If you had left her in the hay loft and she had managed to hatch some, you’d go out a couple of days after they hatched and found them all on the ground. Mama would have told them to jump and they would. They’d come down with those feather-less wings flapping to keep them upright, land, jump up, and run to Mama. You would have found that none would have jumped to their death. I’ve seen broodies get their chicks out of a 10’ high hay loft exactly that way. So don’t get too concerned about them hurting themselves by jumping down.

    Something does concern me however. You talk about the nests being small. My nests are mostly 16” x 16” with a good high lip. I’ve never had any problems with a hen hatching in those nests. But I once let a hen hatch in a cat litter bucket, the big bucket cat litter comes in. I had it set up on edge to give some height but that did not give the hen a lot of side room. The lip wasn’t real high either. Instead of the hen setting back and the chicks having plenty of horizontal room, they would climb up on Mama’s back and fall out of the nest. The nest was about 3’ off the coop floor. The chick could not get back up there at all. During that hatch I had to pick several chicks up and toss them back in the nest with Mama. When that hatch was over I got rid of that nest. So depending on how big that nest is and how high the lip is, it might be a good idea to move the nest down.

    When to move the nest? That is the question. Anytime you move a broody, you take the chance of her not accepting the move. I don’t know if it matters a lot if that is early or late. A lot of times when you move a broody hen you have to lock them in the new nest a while. They tend to want to go back to their old nest, especially if another hen starts leaving eggs there. I tend to do it sooner rather than later just because I don’t have as much emotion invested in them that way. If you have an incubator you can put most of the eggs in that to see if she will accept the move.

    If the hen cannot cover all the eggs you have a problem. Some will get pushed out, cool off, and die especially in cold weather. Then they get pulled back under and others are pushed out to cool off and die. You usually do not get good hatches if the hen cannot cover all of them. In the summer and warm weather it’s not that important, but in the colder weather she needs to be able to cover all the chicks too. The chicks grow pretty fast. I don’t have a magic number for you. It depends on the hen and the weather but smaller broods work better in cold weather.

    I suggest you try to candle those eggs to see if you can discard some. I don’t know how long that hen has been on them, but if you can somehow determine which ones are developing and are about at the same stage of development, you may be better off. I’m not going to pretend that’s easy.

    I personally don’t put much faith in breed tendencies when it comes to how the broody will behave, whether she will be a good Mama or a bad one. No matter the breed, you can find people on here that have had good broodies and bad broodies.

    I don’t always have ”ideal” situations. I have situations “I deal” with. I’m afraid you’re in one of those. I do wish you good luck!

  3. Thanks.

    The hay loft is seriously like 20 ft to the ground. She flew her way up there. Chicks can do a lot of fluttering, but there is absolutely no way they'd get down without getting hurt- from the top of the hay bale to the floor-probably ok.

    Bottom level into barn is like 3 feet up and it's a serious climb to get up there. If they get pitched out the hole she flew into, that's a good 15/20 feet, easily.

    She did go pretty well back on when we moved her- it was mostly to keep her safe from predators and my dogs in the morning. More coop work tomorrow so I won't move her again until that's done.

    Bedtime check and she was eating one of the eggs. There is no way I get under her right now to candle if I want my arm intact, lol.

    I think I'm going to make a spot under the bank of nesting boxes, move everyone and see what happens. I am not attached to getting more chicks, but without knowing how far along they are and her mood, I figured I'd leave her alone for a while.

    Shoot, she may eat her way through the eggs. :/ Probably one she knew wouldn't hatch, but I sure hope it doesn't become a post-broody habit. Meh.

    I don't have a bator, but if she abandons and there's obvious development, I'd probably pick one up.
  4. Thanks again! :)

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