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Where do we start with new chicks this spring?!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by LimitedWisdom, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. LimitedWisdom

    LimitedWisdom Hatching

    Oct 30, 2011
    Love reading this forum! It's truly been a lifeline for us as we have started raising our hens.

    My wife and I have moved to a more rural area and LOVE it. We added a substantial run to our tractor, making it a more permanent coop. Sometime this spring, I'll very likely build a brand new coop and offer someone the old tractor. We've managed to retain our four hens (since we lost the two - mentioned in my first post). We did have a raccoon problem at the new house and between the neighbor and I we managed to live trap TWENTY FOUR! However, we've been about 5 months with no new coons in the traps.

    My real question is that we want to get some new chicks - we can't wait to expand our little flock. We don't have a rooster, so we'll be heading down to tractor supply again. Where do we start? Do we just raise them separate in a box with a lamp like we did the first six or is there a way we can have one of our hens be a surrogate mother? I've done some scrolling around and see a few different schools of thought - but I'm looking for real basic advice on how to start. What are the pros and cons of using a hen as a surrogate mom? All things being equal - I think that's the way I want to go. How do I even get started?

    Thanks in advance and sorry if this is spelled out some place I am just not looking!

  2. spotsplus

    spotsplus Songster

    Sep 29, 2008
    Franklin, MA
    It's nice to see a hen with chicks out in the yard but for friendlier chicks I like to raise them under the heat lamp. I have given chicks to broody hens before. Mostly successfully. It's all personal preference!

  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Are there any coons left in your state? LOL

    You can get a broody hen to adopt chicks, but she needs to be broody and she needs to sit on some eggs for at least 2 weeks before you give her chicks, otherwise it will be hard to fool her. What some people do, when for instance the hen's eggs don't hatch, is to wait 'till it's dark and the hen's sleepy and then remove the eggs she's sitting on, replacing them with chicks. When the hen wakes up she finds the chicks and hopefully won't remember a thing!
    Unless you happen to have a broody and she's been broody for 2-3 weeks by the time you get your chicks I'd suggest raising them yourself. A non-broody hen will very likely attack them and may hurt or kill them.
  4. LimitedWisdom

    LimitedWisdom Hatching

    Oct 30, 2011
    WOW! Good to know - I had no idea it was that difficult. We'll probably hand raise them then (especially since I went and read some articles about "broody hens" and we've never seen that behavior before).

    What about introducing them to the hens once they're a bit bigger? How old should the chicks be and what's the best way to make sure they are all "friends"?

    (BTW - I JUST got a call from the wife that we lost a hen today :( haven't had that happen in a LONG time. I think it was a barn cat. Going to have to pen the girls in for a few weeks it looks like).
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I've tried introducing two month old chicks to older hens and the old girls killed some. I've had better luck waiting until around 4 months old, they're more of a size of the older hens and better able to either defend themselves or run away faster! So, you'll need a space to keep the younger birds until they're 4 month or so, and don't crowd them or you'll have pecking or other behavior problems. Sounds like I'd keep your tractor after you build another coop and use that for a nursery.

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