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Discussion Starter #1
One of my Australorp hens went broody and the chicks have started hatching. They are in one of the laying boxes in the chicken house, which is about 3 feet off the floor.

Can I move her and the chicks to a temporary home?

Or maybe build her a box that sits on the floor of the chicken house?

This is the first time I have dealt with a hen hatching chicks inside the chicken house. Usually they go off somewhere and hide their eggs.

So far one chick has hatched, two more are breaking out of their shells. She is sitting on maybe a dozen eggs.

Then I have two more hens that are sitting and should start hatching in the next few days. The other two are another Australorp and a Dominique. The Dominique is a lot more protective over her eggs than the Australorp. I can lift the Australorp up and look under her and she barely fusses. If I even get close to the Dominique she screeches. I got maybe 8 inches from her and she bit my finger.
 

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Cave canem
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Yes you can move them but wait until they all hatch. Can you block off the bottom part of the nest box so chicks can't fall out? Tape up some cardboard or something? You don't want a chick falling out and running around, that could force the broody off the nest to care for it or the chick could die from the cold. You also don't want nosy hens messing with them.

I have had broody hens raise chicks in the hen house a few times, I section off a little corner of the coop with wire and keep the hen/chicks in there for the first couple of days where the rest of the flock can see them but where the chicks can't get out and become separated from the hen. You don't want a new mother fighting with the other hens when there are newly hatched chicks around which is one reason you want to separate them for a couple of days or more.

After a couple of days the hen can take the chicks out with the flock if she wants too.

Question -- Were these marked eggs? Or were they likely laid at different times? Because if they were laid at different times after she was sitting then the chicks won't all hatch within 24 hours which creates a new problem. They could be days apart in development which changes things considerably. Some will likely end up being abandoned and die and you don't want to leave her in the nestbox for days on end waiting to see what happens.
 

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I told you so!
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Mine always hatch chicks 3' off the floor in the laying boxes, I have a box on the floor that I move them to when they all hatch out, I have had no problems so far. JT
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yes you can move them but wait until they all hatch. Can you block off the bottom part of the nest box so chicks can't fall out? Tape up some cardboard or something? You don't want a chick falling out and running around, that could force the broody off the nest to care for it or the chick could die from the cold. You also don't want nosy hens messing with them.

<SNIP>

Snakes are the biggest threat to chicks here, I put the broody/chicks in a plastic cat carrier at night so if something gets in the coop it can't gobble up the chicks. You mentioned predators in other threads, tiny chicks are high risk so if there is a chance something to get in the coop at night take steps to protect them before it happens.
Thank you.

I thought about building a box and setting it on the floor of the chicken house.

Then I have another 6 foot X 8 foot chicken house I use for new store bought chicks. It is my old chicken house, totally screened in floor, plywood sides, tin roof, sits 3 feet off the ground,,, nothing is getting in there.

Another option I am considering is moving the hen and her chicks to the other chicken house for a couple of weeks.

The problem with using the other chicken house, I currently have around 22 chicks who are a month old in there. I do not know how the mother hen will act around the other chicks. I suspect as long as the chicks do not get close things will be ok.

Here is the big chicken house:


Here is the small chicken house:

 

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Cave canem
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Thank you.

I thought about building a box and setting it on the floor of the chicken house.

Then I have another 6 foot X 8 foot chicken house I use for new store bought chicks. It is my old chicken house, totally screened in floor, plywood sides, tin roof, sits 3 feet off the ground,,, nothing is getting in there.
Ideally you move them to a separate little area of the coop before the eggs hatch.

Also you don't want to separate the hen/chicks from the flock entirely, if you do that they will be picked on as outsiders when introduced at an older age. If they are raised with the flock from 2-3 days old the flock accepts them from the start since they belong to a current flock member.
 

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Cave canem
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Looking at your setup I would take some wire and section off a few feet in a corner under the roosts (cover the top so they don't get pooped on).

Give them feed/water and let them hang out on the floor in the corner for the first couple of days with a shallow box with bedding to sleep on. If you have a small plastic dog kennel using that as a nest may be best, it can be closed at night as extra protection from predators plus it keeps chicks from wandering out in the dark and not being able to find their way back to the hen for warmth.

You could also use a large wire dog kennel as a coop cage if you line the lower part with wire or plastic to keep chicks from getting out.
 

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Once they are all hatched, I move them into a box in my garage that is setup with bedding (shredded paper I compost later), heat lamp, feeding trough, watering bowl. I do this for two reasons. 1, the chicks need constant warmth and you stand a chance of losing half of them at night if you don't use a heat lamp in order to keep that nice toasty 90 degrees. Also, I want my hen to break this cycle and get back to egg laying. She'll be fussy for a couple days, but they get over it quick. If you leave the chicks in there, the hen will concentrate on taking care of them and you'll have an unproductive hen for at least a couple of months.

I never remove an existing hen from the flock. Introducing new chickens later is not that big a deal. Just make sure they are old enough to run or defend themselves when becoming an addition to the pecking order.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I might build a box and sit it on the floor of the big chicken house.

Or, take the chicks away and raise them myself like I do the store bought ones.

I suspect they will survive better in a cage with a heat lamp rather than an open chicken house.
 

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Cave canem
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I might build a box and sit it on the floor of the big chicken house.

Or, take the chicks away and raise them myself like I do the store bought ones.

I suspect they will survive better in a cage with a heat lamp rather than an open chicken house.
My hen raised chicks are much much healthier and develop much quicker than artificially brooder raised. I don't even give them medicated feed, they thrive in the natural setting eating bugs/grass and regular feed. A hen is much better than a heat lamp, if the chicks are cold they let her know and she warms them up on the spot. My broody hens have never had a chick die on them, only a couple of losses due to snakes at night and that is my fault not theirs.

The huge benefit of having a broody raise chicks is that they don't need a heat lamp and they don't need to be separated until they are old enough to join the flock. They should be fine in the hen house as long as you keep predators out. IMO robbing her of her babies after the hen sat and starved for weeks waiting for them to hatch cruel. If folks want to hatch out chicks but don't want to let the hen raise them then an incubator is the answer.

FYI if you have other sitting hens you need to plan to separate the others before the chicks arrive. If a broody hen hears peeping chicks at another nest they could fight over them. If you aren't marking eggs the hatch dates could be all over the map, if the one with hatching chicks doesn't hatch out all her eggs in 2 days then move her and the chicks, then take any unhatched eggs and put them under another sitting hen due to have chicks soon.

Letting multiple hens sit on ever growing piles of eggs in the hen house will turn into a big mess and lead to a lot of aborted chicks in the shell. It is best to mark the eggs with the date as soon as a hen is obviously broody and give each hen her own space.

On the upside once you have a good trustworthy broody you can do away with grow out pens and heat lamps altogether, they will happily raise store bought chicks as their own which makes adding new chicks to the flock very easy.
 

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I've always let nature take its course. Usually it works out. Let the broody hen raise them. Not only will she take care of them but it's fun to watch them grow. And the chicks will learn a lot from their mother.
 
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