Stockpile of Eggs update (kind of long)

sullicorbitt(z5 MA)June 21, 2008

A while back I had a few hens that started laying up in the loft of our coop (between 5-6 feet high), I had cleared it out a few times and had plans to hang netting so they could no longer sneak up there. Needless to say before we got to that task I discovered my Marans hen broody in that same spot, I didn't think there were any eggs under her since we cleared them out but I wasn't sure. We decided to let her be. Last week she got off the nest briefly and I counted a shocking 18 eggs! Thursday night we discovered a little chick had hatched and was tucked safely under it's mom.

The next day (Friday) we checked on her in the morning and another chick had hatched, I had a really busy day and wasn't able to move her in the morning plus I was worried about relocating her and the nest since the chicks were still hatching etc. That afternoon when I got home I went into the coop only to find her off the nest on the floor, no sign of any chicks. There were a bunch of unhatched eggs. I was pretty disappointed, I wished I had been more vigilant about a plan. I searched for the two little chicks but couldn't find any sign of them, the loft is way too high off the ground for them to have jumped or so I thought.

I gently nudged my marans hen who was sitting rather funny on the floor and to my shock and surprise 6 little fluffy chicks came running out from under her peeping up a storm! How on earth did they get down from the loft???????

I have never had a broody hatch eggs before, it is the sweetest sight to behold. I quickly prepared a chicken condo for the family, they are now safely separated from the other birds.

Here's my question, how long do I keep this little family separated? should I keep the mom w/the chicks indefinitely? I'll also add I have to wear thick rubber gloves to change the water and food because mom is fierce! :)

Thanks for any advice!


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Congratulations to your hen on her little ones! Yes, it is an awesome thing to watch (see Luke 13:14)!
We have had broodies hatch out eggs 4 times now. It sounds like youÂre doing all the right things.
One of our broodies (2 clutches of eggs) stayed in a separate pen/house with the chicks until exactly 4 weeks when she laid a first egg; after that she got kind of mean to the chicks and just wanted to join the flock. We kept the chicks in the small pen/house for a couple of more weeks.
One stayed happily in the pen/house with the chicks until they were 7 weeks. She started laying and the chicks were about ready to be on their own in the flock.
Most recently (May), a broody hatched out only one chick and was wonderful mom. At 4 ½ weeks she started laying and was increasingly eager to get back with the flock. But I was afraid the chick at 5 weeks was not ready to be with the others. So I let them both out late in the evening (most were on their roosts for the night). The Mom went in the coop. The chick was quite distressed and kept going back to their little pen/house. I finally picked her up and put her in the big coop on a low roost. She has been fine. Spent a little time with the mom the next day but for the most part they are no longer together.
Our chickens are free range, all day. They go into their coop at dusk. With all the broodies, when the chicks were about 3-4 weeks, I would let them out late in the evening. They followed the mom and she watched them. They would return to their pen/house.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 11:47AM
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Congratulations on your chicks! They are amazingly light and bouncy, kind of like wood ducks when they jump out of their high nests for the first time to join mom below.

I really prefer to have broody hens raise chicks. We have them separate from the flock for their incubating time, but a few days after hatching, we open up their incubating box and let them choose when to introduce their brood to the rest of the flock. I find this is the easiest and smoothest way of introducing new chickens. We used to have one mean rooster that would pick on them, but he turned into Coq-au-vin (yummy), and the rest of the chickens and roosters are great with the chicks. The moms are very protective of their chicks and the rest know that. Some hens prefer to take their chicks back to their brooding boxes, while others take them back to the main coop. With time though, all of the mom hens will take their chicks back to the coop.

This works so well with us, that right now we have introduced broiler chicks under broody hens, and they are doing great. We just sit back and watch the hens do the hard work :)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 10:28PM
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