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First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:45 am
by amberalora
Hi Guys!

I currently have my first broody hen and I'm super excited, :stars: she is sitting on 7 eggs, all Gold Laced Wyandottes. She's been on her eggs for about 17/18 days now so we should have chicks Sunday or Monday if my math is right. I'm totally new at this, so I have a few questions.

So first question :

She is still in the coop with my other chickens, only one rooster and one other hen. Is it safe to leave her in there to raise the chicks with the other two adults? Or better to move her so she is by herself with the chicks?

If it's best to separate her, when should I do that? After the chicks hatch or before? I am scared of disturbing her and something going wrong with the incubation/hatching.

Second Question:

I've got 9 seven week old chicks living in my other coop/run, right next to the adults. If I do have to seperate momma and babies, would it be ok to add 7-8 week old chicks in with two adult chickens? Hubby might have a meltdown if I tell him we have to build a third coop! lol. :dance:

And Third:

How do you handle feeding when you've got young chicks with adults? So far I've only bought day olds and raised the chicks, so feeding was simple, I did chick starter and then grower until they were ready to lay and then got them on layer and have fed that ever since. When you have chicks with mom do you just put layer and chick starter in the pen? If I introduce my teenagers to the adults do I just let them eat layer right away? They are still on chick starter.

Thank you in advance!! I really want this to go well so any advice or tips are appreciated!! :chicks:

Re: First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:34 am
by kenya
First off the rooster and hen in with her will likely kill the chicks, they see them as invaders/aliens. So you best move her, or the best thing would be if you have a dog crate you could put her in with the other chickens where they can see but not touch. I would move her now shes sitting and pretty solid at this point. Gently take the eggs put them in the dog crate and then move her in with them, watch to ensure she continues to sit. Have shavings in the crate and put the eggs near the back in a little hollow. Leave the crate as close to where she was sitting as possible. If its an open wire crate you may want to put chicken wire some kind of mesh around the outside to insure the chicks don't get out. I would also darken the whole crate for a day cover with a cloth to make it darker but light enough she can clearly see her eggs, to ensure she continues to sit, watch to ensure she continues to sit. Put food and water at the front of the crate for the hen. Once the chicks hatch make sure its not a deep water dish that they could drown in. You will have to leave them in the crate with the other chickens till they get used to them, feed the hen chick starter same as the chicks. To reintroduce the hen with her chicks should be easier as she never left so they will remember her but you will have to watch introductions to make sure momma is going to protect her chicks. Usually momma is wildly protective and will keep the other chickens from harming the babies but thats only once the babies have learned to run to momma when she calls so I would wait a week to reintroduce. All the chickens can eat chick starter and grower no problems.
Your new chicks can be introduced in the same manner have a wire cage in the coop ( or section off a portion the the coop)where the other chickens can see but not touch the new chicks give them a couple weeks before you introduce .

Re: First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:40 pm
by Penny
All my broodies raise their chicks in the flock with no issues. I currently have 2 batches of chicks in the main coop with the other 10 chickens. Naver had an issue. The Mamas will let the other chickens know that the babies are off limits - there is nothing fiercer than a mama hen! lol

When I have babies in the coop, everybody eats medicated chick starter. The medication used these days in chick starter is Amperol and has no egg withdrawal period. Be sure to offer a calcium source such as oyster shell separately (its usually already included in layer feed)

When I bought some purebred chicks last year, I introduced them to the main flock around that age. I had them in a dog crate in the main coop so the others could see but not harm them. They stayed in there for about a week before I opened the dog crate and let them mingle. I also rearranged the coop when I let them out (to confuse the older hens), and provided lots of hiding spots. There was some pecking to establish order, but nothing major. I have an 8X10' coop so fairly large floor space. You would have more issues in a smaller coop.

Hope that helps! And I look forward to pics!

Re: First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:05 pm
by Farrier1987
Question, do your birds free range at all? I have had different experience than Kenya. My hens raise the chicks with the rest of the flock, but they free range all day. I would be a little more worried if they had limited space.

I never feed any commercial processed feed. With free ranging they get bugs and grit and little roots and things and seem to do just fine,

For about the first two or three days after hatching, I keep the mom and chicks in a horse stall by themselves. Fried egg or boiled egg is good food for the first few days. Since starting this with the stall the first few days, I haven't lost really any chicks, the odd one that doesn't thrive is all. After the third day, I just leave the door of the stall open and let the mother decide when its time to take them out and join the bunch. I also take a shovel out and dig a clump of sod and put it upside down in the stall with them. Bugs, roots and an assortment of grit to get them started on seems to work.

Works pretty good for me. Have had I think eight hatches this year, and all is well, total about thirty birds. Not every year is as successful, so I will have to thin by the fall.

One other thing, it is really tough for me. DO NOT HELP A CHICK OUT OF THE EGG. They seem to need the exertion and exercise of doing it themselves. If memory serves, I have lost every one I ever tried to help out.

Good luck with it, broodies are so much fun.

Re: First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:31 pm
by kenya
Yes it will depend if you free range or not, mine that free range if kept separate for a few days until the chicks are stong enough to run to momma are fine. Mine that are kept in the barn and not allowed out will kill the little ones.

Re: First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:59 pm
by amberalora
Thank you everyone!

So they do not free range - I wish they could but I don't trust my chicken-obsessed Cocker Spaniel unsupervised, and we have a lot of people & equipment in and out of our yard every day, I just don't think it would be safe. We built an 800 sq ft run this spring for them, and the coop is 6x6. A decent amount of space for 3 chickens, but they are still limited.

I think I will err on the side of caution and try the dog crate route - I'll get it setup and move her in tonight. Hopefully by the next weekend I can let them out with the flock. @kenya once you let them out of the crate in a week or so, would you still put them back in the crate when everyone is locked in the coop? Or should they be ok with momma to defend them?

Since I am going to leave her in, I think I will wait to introduce the 7-8 week olds. They've been living side by side in full view of each other for a couple of weeks, but I don't want to upset momma for now, she will have enough to worry about.

Great ideas for feeding - I had not thought of feeding eggs and a clump of sod for them to peck at for the first bit - I think I'll try that too. @Penny Good to know that I can feed everyone chick starter while they're growing up, that makes life simple! Ill make sure they have oyster shell to supplement. I will definitely share pics once they're hatched!

@Farrier1987 Thanks for the reminder about not helping the chicks out of the eggs - I know that would be my first reaction if I saw one struggling so I'm glad you mentioned it.
On a side note - who has extra horse stalls?? Everyone knows you need at least as many horses as you have stalls! Haha

Thanks again everyone, I really appreciate the tips & advice! Fingers crossed that it all goes well :fingersx: :jumpy:

Re: First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:06 pm
by Farrier1987
Well, its actually a goat stall but they are out for the summer, so it works.

After hatching, leave the dog crate open during the day and she will just use it as a home, even after yu put her in with the others. Broodies are so much fun. Glad for you.

Re: First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:18 pm
by kenya
They'll be ok with momma, but you could do as Farrier says and leave the crate, except they will sit on top and poop all over it. If its a wire crate I like to put something on top so she doesn't get pooped on.

Re: First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:41 pm
by Kbr42
What everyone said already! I have 3 silkies now with Mom and I take my queue from her. I've made a portable nesting box. So I put her in that to hatch. It fits nicely into my inside coop as well. I usually hatch them inside and keep them in the house for about a week. Then I take them and the nesting box out to the coop and let Mom do the rest. Each might I bring her to the house for about a week. Then she decides when it's ok to sleep in the outside coop. A little extra work...but it has worked for me for years. Good luck with your hatch! Pictures pls!

Re: First Timer Broody Hen Questions

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:36 am
by amberalora
Awesome thank you!

So I covered a small dog crate in chicken wire and moved her into that first thing on Saturday. She didn't bite me so that was a plus :YES: and she sat right back down on her eggs and didn't miss a beat.

She hasn't eaten or drank much water in the last day and a half or so. I was so tempted to look underneath her this morning but I left her alone. How do you know when your eggs have started to hatch? Does the hen stay tight on the eggs while they hatch or will she get off the nest a bit or behave differently to tip you off that it's happening?

Thanks again!!