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How to hatch eggs with a broody hen

 
steward
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I have 10 hens, one of which is broody.  I keep stealing her eggs and eating them.  I also have a rooster who is presumably servicing the hens.  I'd like to let her hatch a batch of eggs.  It's been kind of cold here lately but I don't want to keep disappointing her.  Presumably we will have highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s in 21 days.  Here are my newbie questions:

Is it time to let her sit on some eggs or should I wait till it's a bit warmer?

The next boxes are off the ground.  I'm assuming I should make her a private nest on the floor of the coop so the chicks can get out.  Should I build a box or just let her create a nest?

Should I build a barricade around her so she doesn't have to refuse the rooster's advances?  If so, I'd be giving her food and water separately.

Once the chicks hatch should they stay barricaded away from the rest of the flock or will mama hen protect them from the other birds?  Or maybe just barricaded so that the other hens don't ruin their little chick feeder and waterer.

Thanks!
 
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1012
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Best to set up an on the floor nest box and see if she will like it there.
Hens normally don't go broody when it isn't a good time for hatching eggs (it's going to be three weeks of egg sitting then she is going to keep them close or under her for about another month).
For now I would let her have her eggs and see what happens.  
Just taking her eggs away isn't going to make her stop being broody so let her have a clutch would be my thinking.

If she is sitting the nest, the roo isn't going to try and mate her, but she will like privacy so a nest box with a lid and curtain is a good idea.
Don't worry about the chicks, mom will take care of them and keep the others from bothering them.

She will get up to feed and get water, the time you have to do extra is once the chicks hatch, they will need chick waterer and chick feeder so they don't soil their food and water.
Some apple cider vinegar in the water is never a bad thing.

Once the chicks are hatched you might need to provide a safe ramp for them to get into and out of the coop.

Redhawk
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Thanks Bryant!  I'll build her a nest box for the floor that gives her some privacy but still lets me look in on her.  Once the chicks arrive I'm thinking I'll put a second water bucket (with chicken nipples) at chick height.  HOPEFULLY she teaches them how to drink from nipples right off the bat.  Otherwise I could certainly have a bowl of water but then they need to learn nipples at some point.

I figure I need to get some chick starter feed for them but I want to keep the older hens from hogging it down.  How do people feed chicks and hens in the same coop with different food?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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That is the point where you might want a brooder room, a separate space for mom and chicks.  

Our chooks are fairly free range and only go inside to lay or roost for the night so we should not have problems.
If we did find those things happening, I have a second coop that is currently empty that can be used as a brooder room.

I have noticed that chicks will get the hang of nipples at about 3 weeks old at my breeder's place.
until then he uses chick waterers and chick feeder trays.

Redhawk
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Thanks, I'll have to figure that out.  I could subdivide the coop but then she couldn't take them out into the run.  If I could keep the hens from eating the chick food, I'd be all set, right?

Maybe it's time to invent something :)
 
Bryant RedHawk
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yes indeed, if you can keep the large birds out you are set to go.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Awesome!  I made a little box for her to sit under on the floor of the coop.  I'm guessing by tomorrow I'll have enough eggs to give her a clutch.  Should I set the eggs in there during the day and place her on/near them during the day?  Or set them in there at night and stuff her on top of them at night?  

I'd say she's a "medium" sized hen.  How many eggs would she like to sit on?

Here's my hen excluder chick feeder idea (so far).  Take a circle of plywood with an 18" diameter and lay it on the ground.  Attach dowels/bars to it vertically around the perimeter of the circle.  The bars need to be about 3" apart.  Set the mason jar chick feeder in the middle of the circle (like it's in jail).  Maybe put a roof of plywood over the top but hopefully not.

That way the chicks can get in between the bars to get to the food.  The hens are too fat to fit through.  I can reach down to replace the food easily.  The roof over the top would only be needed if the hens jump the barricade.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1012
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If she is broody, you should not need to set her on the eggs, she will do that herself.
I'd start her nest with 8 eggs maximum. large hens like my Marans might hatch out as many as 12 but they are pretty huge hens.

Remember that hen eggs don't have to be sat upon all the time, hens usually lay an egg a day and once they have enough to make a brood, they then sit on the eggs.
If I was going to try and add eggs to a clutch I'd start with six and see if the broody sits on them, if not, I'd add an egg a day until she took to the nest.
If she is truly broody, your hands will suffer pecks and she will be quite indignant that you are near her.

great idea for a chick starter chicken excluder rig.

Redhawk
 
Mike Jay Haasl
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Thanks Bryant!  I'm pretty sure she's broody.  She's been sitting in one of the nest boxes 90% of the time for the last month.  She fluffs up and fans her tail and growls a bit.  She hasn't pecked me much but she's also used to me reaching under her by now.  When she's off the nest she runs around urgently eating and drinking.

I'll certainly have 6-8 eggs today.  The fun begins.....
 
Bryant RedHawk
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good luck, it's going to be fun for you both I'm sure.  Yep, that is broody behavior for sure.
 
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