When should/can I move a hen, hatchling and eggs?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by LadyIslay, Aug 7, 2010.

  1. LadyIslay

    LadyIslay In the Brooder

    Is there a FAQ for hatching eggs under a hen rather than in an incubator? I'm asking because it looks like the info in the Learning Center is aimed at hatching in an incubator, and I really need some help with regards to 'natural' hatching. One of my hens, an ISA Brown, went broody. Amused, I got some eggs from a friend and stuck them under her, not really expecting much. Well, today is Day 21, and one chick has hatched. I'm completely surprised, unprepared and uneducated.

    Our flock is free-range, so the door to the hen house is open to the entire world. I've closed it for now to keep the cats out, but I will have to open it before dusk so that the other birds can get in to roost. Once the other birds are in for the night, I can keep the whole flock locked up for a few days if necessary, but I'm assuming that I will need to move the hen and chick(s) to another area so that I can keep them secure from predators and the other chickens that might not be nice to them. When can I move them? How long do I wait to see if the other eggs will hatch? Should I move the hen to a box with the unhatched eggs and chick now? I'm guessing not. They'll be moving to a dog crate and then to an enclosed stall in the barn so that I can keep the cats, dog and alpacas away from them.
  2. bragabit

    bragabit Songster

    Mar 26, 2009
    Southern Utah
    I wouldn't lock the other hens in with the new mommy. I had the same situation as you. I just went out every morning and locked the flap after all the hens left. Giving Mommy hen some down time with the new chicks. By day 4 I took the mommy and chicks and put them in a large dog crate. Letting them out during the day and locking up during the night. Did that for another week and then let my hen back to the rest of the flock and did things normally. Watch out for your cats, one of my cats killed a chick that wasn't staying near mommy hen.
  3. sophiejw

    sophiejw Chirping

    Jun 2, 2010
    I wouldn't leave her with the others. I've moved broodies when I probably shouldn't have- one was nesting in the hen house and the eggs were peeping, moved her and eggs into their own house/ run and they were fine, and hatched fine. The other I moved once her chick had hatched, together with the other eggs. None of the other eggs hatched but she kept sitting on them so I don't think they would have hatched anyway. As long as she's got her chick she'll probably be happy. Good luck!
  4. LadyIslay

    LadyIslay In the Brooder

    I moved her this morning. It looks like the final count is going to be 4 chicks. One chick died before it got out of the shell. Three eggs remain unhatched. I moved those with her, anyway. I'm actually kind of pleased with the 50/50 hatch rate. Six eggs were from a friend, and I let the hen keep two of her own, not expecting them to hatch (our rooster is a bantam... she's an ISA Brown). I have no idea how to tell if the hatchlings are proper blue orpingtons or not, but I guess when they're a bit bigger, I'll have my friend over to inspect them.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing 8 Years

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I kept mine a bit separate from the flock for about 2 days. I made a nest in a cardboard box, with a bit of hay and set it under the roost, as that is the only floor space in my coop. I locked my layers out of the coop all night, but they were locked in the run. It was nice here, and they were fine. I went down in the morning let the layers outside to free range, and opened the coop to the run. Then at night when she bedded down, I let the layers in and locked the run. After the second day, I opened the run and left the run open to the layers and the Mama. That night they all slept in the coop

    Mine are all together, and once in a while a chick will get a thump from another hen, but mama takes care of it. I do let mine out to free range so there is ample space. But I was gone for two days, and they had to all stay in the run/coop together, and when I got back all was fine. The Mama hen generally keeps herself between the babies and the other hens and rooster. She puffs up big if one of them get too close. and if one of her chicks gets to peeping she comes charging in.

    The problem with separating them is the WHOLE reintroduction issue which does not always go well. Mine are all together, and I like it that way.

    Also, from day three, mine were out free ranging with Mama, being fed grasshoppers. Today they are 12 days old, and I saw one catch his/her own grasshopper.

    I guess what I am really trying to say, is once they are all hatched, and following Mama, I would put them back into the flock. Then you won't have reintroduction issues.

    Last edited: Aug 9, 2010
  6. bethanyrae

    bethanyrae Songster

    Apr 5, 2009
    I usually try to move her and the eggs away from the flock within the first few days. We have to fasten her into her "new" nest for a day, so she takes to it and won't abandon it.

    If it gets so hot she holds herself up above the eggs, I try putting frozen bottles of water in the nest. If that doesn't work, I put them all into a dog crate and bring them into the air conditioned kitchen so she'll set properly.

    Upsetting her always runs the risk of her stepping on and damaging an egg or a chick.

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