Chicks hatching - now what?

mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)September 3, 2008

I have baby chicks hatching under Momma Hen right now!

This is a first for me, and I am wondering how long do they take to get out of their shells? One is out, two more are halfway...five more eggs to go. Also, will the Mum give them water & food? They are in a nesting box about 18" off the ground, should I move them to ground level?

We are SO excited.

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congratulations on the first hatch!

the babies can take up to 12-24 hours to hatch after theyve started pipping. mom will show them how to eat and drink when theyre ready (they dont need food and water for the first 48 hours) as long as you've provided it for her. make sure you have a waterer that the babies cant get inside of, and add some glass marbles to it so theres just enough room for them to dip their beaks between them.

definitely lower them to the ground once all the babies are out of the dont want to move them if theyre in the process of hatching!

most importantly, enjoy the experience!!!!! momma will do all of the work from here on out as long as you provide her and her babies with food, water, and a warm, comfy home.

good luck!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 7:18PM
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I second all the hints and advice above. But if I might add. It might be a good idea if you can put something in front of the nest box to keep any chicks from falling out. As they get older by a day or so, just waiting for the bro and sisters to arrive they get a little bored and braver by the hour. If one fell out of the box, mom would certainly leave the eggs and peeps to go after it...I use old window screens for things like this. Or even an old egg crate, cardboard with holes. I once used a old onion sack and slipped it over a piece of cardboard with the center cut out and duct taped it to the front of the box. Just something to keep the little peepers from taking a header out of the box.
Love the idea of the marbles. That would also serve as a weight to keep it from being tipped.
I've learned so much on this forum..

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 8:26PM
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The mother hen WILL NOT FEED THEM. Unlike most baby birds, who are helpless, chickens are born with the ability to walk and scavange. The only thing their mother does is provide warmth for them and a place for them to hide under her wings/breast. Their yolk sac provides enough nutrition for them until they get the hang of pecking at food or water. You will have to make sure food is available within access of the chicks and if the hatching box is off the ground, they will, just like simpleme said, go wandering and end up on the floor of your coop. If they're not injured mortally, they'll hide in the bedding, and get lost or get so chilled at night, they'll be at risk for dying.

When I let the hens brood their own chicks, I remove them when the hatching is complete and put them in a safe brooder box. You can surely leave them with the Mama, but it would be a good idea to provide a seperate area for her to brood them, safe from the rest of the flock and getting lost.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 10:07PM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

Thanks everyone for the tips and advice!
I have 2 chicks up and about, 3rd one almost completely out of shell and have tried not to bug Momma Hen too much to check on the status of the other 5 eggs.
In the morning I will be moving everyone to a floor level nest I have partially divided from the rest of the coop with chick starter in a feeder and a chick water dish (gravity fed)
Would it be a good idea to warm up the nest before I move everyone? I was thinking of putting a hot water bottle in for an hour to warm up the bedding (or am I just being a nut??) I don't want the babies to get a chill.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 1:37AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

You sure are a cute Chicken Mom! :) What great care this little family is getting, that's wonderful.

I'd say definitely move them to a ground level nest, and in an isolated pen with just them. Unless it is really cold where you are, no need to pre-warm the nest, but DO make sure it is free of drafts and predator-proof. Mama hen provides plenty of warmth for the babies, and a hot water bottle may make things TOO warm or worse, burn delicate chick skin.

Mama hen will take care of teaching the babies to eat and drink, but don't panic if the chicks don't eat right away--just before hatch, they absorb the last of the egg yolk which can sustain them for up to three days. Also, make SURE the drinkers have a small enough space so that the chicks cannot drown in them. I use a quail waterer with a tiny trough, but you can add rocks or marbles to yours to take up space.

I've got a chicken info site with more info on raising chicks here:

Enjoy your chicks! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 5:31AM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

Well, chick #1 and chick #2 hatched out all by themselves, chick #3 got one leg stuck and dried into the leftover yolk poor little thing, I left her (I hope it's a her!) alone for over 24 hours hoping she would get herself out the rest of the way, but her leg was just too dried in there so DH became Vet (he's had some experience with this) and moistened the dried yolk on the leg and peeled her the rest of the way out. That was about 8pm last night - we put her back under Mom to keep warm and this morning she is doing well, just a little wobbly. Still no sign of life from the other 5 eggs though so I think they may be duds. She is laying again though - there is 7 eggs now, I will have to mark them so I know which ones may hatch.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2008 at 1:23PM
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