Will a mother hen accept late chicks after she leaves the nest?


In the Brooder
Jul 12, 2015
We recently had two of our broody hens attempt to hatch a clutch of eggs with terrible results. Out of the 12 eggs we set under two hens, only one chick hatched. So now we have two eager mothers fighting over one tiny baby, and we would really like to add in at least one or two more chicks to make everyone happy. However, I've been calling around to local farms and no one had any newly hatched chicks I could pick up before Saturday. The baby is three days old now and already starting to get off the nest and explore. Wherever the chick goes, both mothers follow, abandoning the nest. They are already off of the nest most of the time and the hens are not acting broody, they are completely focused on the newborn.

So my question is, if I pick up new chicks when the original chick is 6 days old will it be too late? Will the mother hens reject these newcomers, or is there still a chance they might add them to the family?

Thanks in advance!!


Apr 17, 2015
Long Beach, WA
Not likely. In fact, they may kill new chicks. Also, you need to pick one hen to be the mother, and separate the other for a few days. Otherwise, the chick may get injured in their squabbling.


In the Brooder
Jul 12, 2015
How sad! It is really sweet to see both hens trying to hard to teach the little one how to be a chicken, it breaks my heart that one might have to lose her baby without getting any new chicks!


Crossing the Road
7 Years
Sep 29, 2014
New Zealand
It all depends on the hen so it is a big risk, and I'd advise, if you want to try, that you need to find chicks that look the same as (or close to) your 'lonely only' and separate the mothers to prevent further squabbles. Sometimes they are so desperate to be a mother and it's heart breaking when it doesn't work out for them.

I've added 3 week old chicks to a broody's clutch and she accepted them no problems, but she LOVES being a mother. Other hens will kill new comers, even if they look the same as their current babies.


In the Brooder
Jul 1, 2015
I'd do it, clearly they both want babies, the best way to do it is when she's not paying attention and slip them under her tail feathers, of course monitor what's going on.

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