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Chick pen doing well, but...

 
Tony Hill
Posts: 44
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Last year, our Brahmas got broody, and we had a successful hatch. The problem was that the other hens got jealous, and they killed all the chicks but one. I realized too late that I should have separated the young from the adult birds.

This year, all the Brahmas are broody again. This time, I put the most seriously broody hen and 10 eggs into a pen with a jumbo dog crate filled with straw. I even covered over the pen with netting, in case any hawks want an easy meal. Just as backup, we let a second broody hen stay on 12 eggs back in the coop.

The "coop bird" hatched the first chick. After watching another hen "stalking" the little one, we took that chick and put it out in the separate pen. She tucked it under her like it was her own. Then one of hers hatched, and another from the coop, and so on. Over the last couple of days, we've gotten 7 chicks, and have put all of them into the separate pen, and that hen seems very happy, but we are wondering how many chicks she can actually handle? We still have 15 eggs to go.

Now I'm wondering how it would go if I bring the second hen and put her in the small pen along with the others. Will the two broody hens fight and peck, or will they share the space peacefully?

What do you think? I just don't want to see any more chicks with bashed-in heads.

Thanks

-Tony
 
Tracy Kuykendall
Posts: 165
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That size hen should be able to handle them, just keep her and the little ones separated until they can fly, be sure the momma and little ones aren't in an area that can accumulate water if it rains, and don't provide momma with a roost until the little ones can fly.
 
Tony Hill
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Well, we got our answer.

After 8 chicks, "Pen Mama" abandoned the rest of the eggs. One chick actually hatched that day, but she wouldn't keep it warm. The little guy would follow her, but she was busy giving lessons to the others to give it any attention or warmth. My wife called me and told me that the new chick wasn't going to make it. I got home and realized that the little chick was just cold. Really cold. So I reversed things, and put him under "coop mama".

Coop mama happily accepted the chick and chick dove under her. Excellent! The next day was when we realized that the mama in the pen had abandoned the last four eggs, and they were stone cold. Apparently, eight chicks was her limit. Or perhaps, it was more about the timing. Now she is in teach mode, not sit on eggs mode.

Anyway, we put the cold egggs under "coop mama" but after a couple of days, she rolled them out of the nest. They had died. But she continued to hatch chicks from the eggs she was sitting on. The other morning, I went to check on her, and I was surprised to see four happily peeping chicks!

Now we were in a quandry. Do we try to put the four new ones out in the pen with the others, or do we let coop bird try to raise them in the main chicken yard?

All seemed well in the coop for 2 days, but then I witnessed one of the red hens attack one of the chicks when it walked near her. I rescued it, but it was clear that the chicks are not safe in there. When I put the four new ckicks in the pen, they ran right to mama and snuggled into her feathers. BUT she cocked her head, looking at them funny. She got up, sniffed the new chicks, and started beating them violently!

Long story short, the mama hens do not get along, so I ended up building a second nursery pen, and now the two hens and 12 chicks are doing quite well. There are two eggs left, and another broody brahma is sitting on them. This has been an interesting learning experience.

-TH
 
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