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Have you tried putting chicks under a broody hen?

Friday May 22nd my wife and I bought some chicks from a local farm supply store. It just so happens we also have a broody Buff Orpington, but no rooster in that yard. We had two roosters but dogs killed them several months ago.

The grandkids and I put a hand towel over the hens head, put 4 chicks under her and took all of the eggs.

Things were going good for maybe 15 minutes, then one of the chicks got out from under the hen. When the chick tried to get back under her she pecked at the chick.

Just to be on the safe side I picked the hen up, removed the chicks and put them back in their cage were they are safe.

I read that putting chicks under a broody hen can be hit and miss. From what I understand the eggs have to be at the right age to hatch, and the chicks have to be only 1 or 2 days old.

So far this year two of our Buff Orpington hens have gone broody. My cousin has an Australorp hen that is sitting on some eggs. Those eggs should be fertilized from her Rhode Island Red rooster.
 

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We'll throw eggs under a broody hen and pull them out a day or two before hatch, seems to work more reliably than the incubators we've tried.

Why would one put chicks under a hen?
 

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ΙΧΘΥΣ
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Why would one put chicks under a hen?
To get her to raise them. She will protect them from the rest of the flock and watch out for them.
 

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Crazy Cat Lady
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Maybe just leave them all in the same general area.. I have heard mammals will do that... see a pathetic, starving, baby... awww, poor thing needs a Mommy!

It even works with humans, and stray kittens. ROFL

Of course, what I know about chickens could fit in a quarter teaspoon with room left over.
 

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Yeah, chickens aren't generally like that...unfortunately. They will peck at the chicks until they are bloody and then that's all she wrote. Once they see blood they are merciless.
 

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The Mighty Pen
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Finally a question I've had experience with.

Broody hens really want to have babies. Mine will set stubbornly even though I take the eggs daily. The trick is to do it in the dark. If they can't see the chicks they won't attack and by morning will have accepted them.

I can't promise this will work for you but I've been doing it this way for years and never had a failure. I've had successful adoptions when the chicks are up to a week old. Just a couple days ago I moved a broody hen over to my parents. I had to make my mom turn off her flashlight because the hen was angry and I shoved all 12 chicks under her. By the morning they were climbing all over her and she was purring. Adorable.
 

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Cave canem
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Ideally the chicks should be very young, as in 2-3 days (though some broody's are so chick crazy they will adopt older ones).

Introduce the babies at NIGHT, cup your hand over them and slide them under the hen (cup your hand over them in case the hen tries to peck you, you don't want her scarying or accidentally hurting the chicks).

And of course have a backup plan in case she won't accept them.
 

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Inglorious Deplorable
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A chicken's life is like Ground Hog Day. Make changes in the dark of night and they are likely to stick with the new situation they wake up with.

Kev, What about putting them under the hen late at night and then getting up early in the morning to see if she takes the chicks. Maybe try it 3 days in a row. Remember, Chickens are stupid.
 

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Cave canem
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We'll throw eggs under a broody hen and pull them out a day or two before hatch, seems to work more reliably than the incubators we've tried.

Why would one put chicks under a hen?
Because some folks don't have roosters, or they only wanted female chicks.

Why would anyone have a broody hen sit on eggs for 3 weeks and then steal the chicks away from her? That sounds downright cruel, it also stresses the hens health for no good reason. If you don't want your hen to raise the babies use an incubator.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Finally a question I've had experience with.

Broody hens really want to have babies. Mine will set stubbornly even though I take the eggs daily. The trick is to do it in the dark. If they can't see the chicks they won't attack and by morning will have accepted them.

I can't promise this will work for you but I've been doing it this way for years and never had a failure. I've had successful adoptions when the chicks are up to a week old. Just a couple days ago I moved a broody hen over to my parents. I had to make my mom turn off her flashlight because the hen was angry and I shoved all 12 chicks under her. By the morning they were climbing all over her and she was purring. Adorable.
Thank you very much.
 

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Thanks for the ideas. We have 18 day old chicks coming in next Friday. I have two broody hens I may try this with. I will have to decide if I have enough room in the hen house to keep the hen's and roster.
 

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Cave canem
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Thanks for the ideas. We have 18 day old chicks coming in next Friday. I have two broody hens I may try this with. I will have to decide if I have enough room in the hen house to keep the hen's and roster.
It is best to give broodies with newly hatched chicks their own space at least for 2-3 days until everyone sorts out who the chicks belong too. Easiest way is to section off a corner of the coop with chicken wire or something similar and provide food and water (also you don't want the chicks to survive on layer pellets, layer feed has too much calcium for them).

Also some broodys will fight over who gets the chicks at first, or battle with any other bird that gets near the chicks (even if the chicks belong to another broody) so you don't want a bunch of babies running around loose until the family groups are established.

Watching a momma hen raise chicks is truly wonderful and the chicks do so much better than in a brooder but you DO have to prevent problems for the first couple of days. In nature the hens would go off by themselves to hatch out chicks and then bring the chicks back into the flock when they were ready, hatching out in a cramped coop is not natural and can cause problems.

With 18 new chicks you will have to set up a new area either way, it is easier to do it when they arrive and just keep them separated for a short time. If you brooder raise them they will likely have to be separated for much longer when they try to integrate into the flock as older chicks without a mother to protect them.
 

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Some hens are just better at it than others. A hen isn't giving you any eggs if she's setting eggs, so it's not a trait being bred for. I've got an Austra White hen right now raising four Light Brahma chicks from the feed store, with her three barnyard muttts she hatched. She is off my herself to keep the chicks safe. One of the other hens tried stealing the chicks/killing them? as they hatched and I lost three. Snatched the broody hen's head bloody and detached half her comb.

The new chicks I placed under her at dusk. She's getting ready to settle in for the night, but still enough light to keep an eye on things for a few hours to make sure I don't wind up with dead chicks. She calls them over to the food and water , and still puffs up and growls at me when I open the door. The chicks took right to her, diving under her playing hop on mom.

Neck door at my sister's we tried the same thing. She's got no rooster and a broody hen. Gave her the chicks at sundown. She pecked at them a little, nothing too hard, or persistent. She never got up off her nest to chase them. Took about 45 mins before she was trying to tuck them back under her every time one one peeked out. She's a Black Australorp.

Had another Australorp try and and mother up a batch of meat birds when they were old enough to go outside. The chicks were darned near half as big as she was and she came out of being broody to hover over them and try and keep them corralled under her.
 

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We do this all the time, never have to many problems. I have heard of people putting over 20 chickens under a broody hen and she has taken care of them OK.
 

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To get her to raise them. She will protect them from the rest of the flock and watch out for them.
We just keep them in a small contained coop until they're big enough to get along on their own. Never had any luck letting chickens raise them on their own, they'd always die because as has been mentioned "chickens are stupid".
 

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The Mighty Pen
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We just keep them in a small contained coop until they're big enough to get along on their own. Never had any luck letting chickens raise them on their own, they'd always die because as has been mentioned "chickens are stupid".
Sad that you seem to have mentally defective chickens. Mine do an excellent job of protecting and teaching the chicks.
 

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We just let our Dominique broody hen hatch and keep her chicks this time around. It has been awesome. WE moved her to her own cage with chick feed and water for them. She is great. There is another broody hen in my Dominique pen that is still sitting on eggs and each time a new one hatches I just take it to the one raising the chicks. She just scoops it under her. For me it has not mattered if it were light or dark....

We had one of our ducks to hatch out 6 babies and take care of them...in our big coop with all the other birds around. It was amazing. A couple of my chickens even helped her keep them safe. :)

We are getting ready to let a couple more broody hens sit and hatch some eggs. I find it fun to watch nature work the way it is meant to.
 

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Ive had luck with putting chicks under a hen in a cage, then cover with a towel to make it darker. Do this for two days until the chicks smell like the hen and you shouldnt have problems. Also make sure she sits on a nest of nest eggs( I use ceramic ones) for a few days first.
 

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Allowed 2 hens to hatch their own broods in the past month. 10 hatched for each hen.

Hen #1 was down to 5 chicks within 2 days. So we took the remaining chicks away
Hen #2 was down to 8 by the 2nd morning. So we took them away.


Nope, i will absolutely not try to put chicks under a hen unless i just have too many and just need to get rid of a few.
 
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