Winter Broody, currently cold out

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by superchemicalgirl, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    Jan 10, 2010
    Vacationland, Maine
    (with the windchill it's -2 right now)

    I wasn't planning on having a broody hen in December. However with everything going on here (including setting eggs in my own incubator a week before she went broody) I ended up letting her sit after a few futile attempts at breaking her. She was a first time broody and I figured she'd give it up. Not so: She's currently on 4 eggs in a nestbox about 3 feet off the floor and they're due to hatch tomorrow.

    Now, assuming that SOMETHING hatches, what would you do? I'm mostly tempted to leave her in the coop figuring she knows how to brood eggs, apparently and has figured she can handle it in this climate. If I do have to move the chicks I think she'll be heartbroken (you know, as much as a chicken can be) so I guess I'd want her to go with them.

    So, what would you do?

    How are those chicks going to get out of a 3 foot high nest box? How are they going to get out of my coop which is about 18 inches off the ground and no ramp back up?

    If you took her and the chicks (if they hatch) out of the coop, would you put her in a cage with them? That's awfully small. Or how about my brooder, which has currently 20 chicks that are between 5 and 7 days old? 14 of those will be going to a new home on Sunday, so 6 are staying. Would she brood the older chicks, too? Would the older chicks kill her chicks?

    Sorry, lots of questions.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    First, realize I am a little different than some people on this forum. I do not put diapers on my chickens or feed them special mixes of multimineralvitaminelectrolytelaxativesuperchargedprotein supplements. My goals are probably different than yours and my climate certainly is different.

    I have seen a hen take newly hatched chicks out of a 10 feet high hay loft to the ground without any dying or getting injured. They spread those featherless wings and flap down to the ground. They manage to stay upright and don't hit the ground as hard as you think they would. That said, there is always the possibility that they can hurt themselves and I don't recommend putting the nest boxes up 10 feet so they can enjoy the thrill of jumping down, but I worry less about them getting down from 3 feet than a lot of people do. If you want, you can try raking up bedding under the nest so they have less distance to jump and something soft to land on. With mine, they would scratch it back flat within a few hours, but you can try.

    You'd be surprised how well those chicks can jump. Still, 18 inches is probably too much until they are a week or so old. Can you use cinder blocks, paving stones, bricks, something too heavy for the other chickens to move, to make steps for them, both inside the pop door and outside. I don't think a 6" step is too much.

    I would not put them in the brooder with the others, but that strategy could work out well. It is possible the hen will take the others under her wings, so to speak, but I think the possiblity of a real problem is a little too great. She may kill the others as competitors to her chicks or the older ones may harm the younger ones. If you can watch them you can try it, but I would not.

    The hen will probably take care of them fine, but I like to keep the hen and chicks in a separate area for a day or so. Something inside the coop works great since it is predator proof, out of the worst weather, and still with the other chickens. I'm not worried about other chickens harming the hatchlings, although that is a potential problem. If the broody is worth much she will protect her babies from the other hens. That day or two is to give the chicks a protected place to learn to eat and drink without the other chickens complicating it. If I put out special feeders and waterers for the chicks, the other chickens seem to wipe those out first, even if it is the same food as is in their regular feeders. Once the chicks have learned to eat and drink, I let the hen raise them with the rest. I do let the hen bring them off the nest before I move them so I know all the eggs that are going to hatch have hatched. I did have a hen leave the nest once before all the chicks had dried out enough to follow her. No matter how you go about it, there can be risks and complications.

    A lot of different people do different things successfully. Chickens and chicks are a lot tougher than many people realize. But no matter what you do, there are always risks. You do not have to do things the way I do. Hope you get something beneficial out of this.

    Good luck!!!

    Editted to add:

    Make sure you check on them right after bedtime, especially the first night the broody is on her own. Sometimes the broody will take them to a corner of the coop and brood them there overnight, but sometimes she tries to get back in the nest. Once, I had one get in a nest and some of her chicks did not get up there before dark. Some did, so they could jump well over a foot, but I think some got caught by the dark. The second night they figured it out but that first night was more of a challenge.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2011
  3. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    Quote:Thank you for a fantastic, well thought out answer. It is most appreciated. I am going to leave her in the coop (which is what I wanted) and hope for the best. The coop is insulated and fairly well draft free (except of course right in front of the pop door!).
     
  4. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    Well she hatched something today, it's a leghorn and I believe it has a naked neck! There's still 3 eggs under her but yay!
     
  5. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    [​IMG]

    Yay for the Bio-Bator! It is gonna be SO much fun to watch her raise chicks! [​IMG]
     
  6. sklr112

    sklr112 Out Of The Brooder

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    so did anything hatch?
     
  7. moonlyghtegirl

    moonlyghtegirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pictures?????!!!!!Please!!!! [​IMG]
     
  8. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    As of last night she had hatched out 3 of the 4 eggs. They all hatched either Saturday or Sunday morning. I could only pull the little EE mix out from under her to get a picture. She also has a leghorn NN cross and a turken under there. I think.

    She's been in the nest box exclusively since I think Wednesday or Thursday. She probably has to use the bathroom at about a 500 on a scale of 1-10. I put a cage in the coop to move her and her babies to if the need arises. Hopefully I won't need to use it.

    Here she is:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  9. cabincrazyone

    cabincrazyone Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What a beautiful hen!!
     
  10. PamB

    PamB Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2010
    Dayville, CT
    You aren't using a heat lamp, right? But the babies still come out from under her even though it is as cold as it is? I'm so worried about our little babies out there staying warm, but I'm also just as worried about putting a heat lamp out there and worrying about an accident happening.
     

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