Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sneaking Chicks Under a Broody Hen

I need some more layers. My laying hens are just not laying enough to keep us in eggs and I think it's ridiculous for me to have to buy eggs at the supermarket. So when one of my hens went broody last month I decided to let her sit on a clutch of eggs and (hopefully) hatch me some more layers. The only problem is that my only rooster, Drogo, is a very small banty and most of my hens are standard sized. I've seen Drogo give it the old college try with the full-sized ladies but it just doesn't look like all the parts line up right. So I am not sure if my standard-sized hens' eggs are fertile these days. I didn't want to waste my time (or the hen's) by having her sit on eggs of dubious fertility so I got a dozen fertile banty eggs from my neighbor. My broody hen sat on them dutifully for 25 days. They were supposed to hatch on day 21 but I let her go a few extra days just in case. On day 25 I finally candled one of the eggs (which is just a fancy way of saying I held it up to a bright light to look inside it) and it was clear. No embryo. Ditto for all of the other eggs underneath her. 

Ten chicks ready to meet their new mama
Which is my explanation for how I ended up at the feed store Thursday afternoon buying day-old chicks. Ten of them! It seemed silly to be buying chickens with as many birds as I have at home but I am determined to get some more layers! My plan for the ten baby chicks was to wait until nighttime while mama hen was sleeping on her eggs and then go out and swap the eggs for the chicks. I was hoping like crazy that she would accept the little interlopers because I really have no interest in raising another batch of birds under brooder lamps in my guest room right now. I was so tempted to get some Speckled Sussex chicks at the store but they were already a week old and I knew that the chicks needed to be as young as possible for my ruse to work. So instead we got 4 Production Reds, 3 Dominiques, and 3 Ameracaunas. I was also tempted by the mixed banty selection but they weren't sexed so I didn't want to run the risk of more roosters. Eggs. I need eggs.

Big Sister with an Ameracauna chick
 On Thursday night, after my kids were asleep in their beds, Mr. Chanclas and I crept out to the chicken coop with a cardboard box full of chicks and a failing flashlight. Mama Hen was fast asleep on her rotting eggs so I gently removed the eggs, hoping like crazy I wouldn't bump one and spray us all with foul-smelling goo. After I got the eggs out I quickly dropped all ten sleepy chicks in next to their adoptive mama. Mama looked a bit confused but she didn't attack the chicks so I took that to be a good sign. She didn't gather them up under her wing but they all snuggled up around her in the warm nesting box. I closed the lid, we beat a hasty retreat, and then I had to wait until morning to know for sure if she was going to accept them. 

The next morning I went out to the coop to check on everybody and there was Mama Hen caring for her ten babies! Our trick totally worked and I bet she is so glad to get out of that hot nesting box and be able to move around with her babies. Broody hens don't eat much while they are setting because they spend all day and night on the eggs, getting up once a day or so for a quick drink and nibble. Plus, it's 97 degrees here in the afternoons so it can't be much fun to sit in a nesting box in that heat.
Mama with her two-day old chicks
The chicks are adorable and hen is doing great as a first-time mama. I just wish it wasn't going to be 6 months before those little pullets start laying!

In other chicken news, the eight roosters that were added to our duck and guinea order back in March are getting to be slaughtering size. They  are beautiful birds and I have determined that they are Rhode Island Reds. I'm tempted to keep one in my flock but I don't know. Floyd was such a problem that I'm hesitant to try another full-sized rooster. If all goes as planned we will slaughter tomorrow morning before it gets too insanely hot outside. Then I can leave those birds chilling while we go to the pool!


  1. You trickster!! So glad it worked. Will you and Mr. C do the slaughter by yourselves? What happened to Floyd?

    1. We did the slaughter ourselves. Floyd the rooster met his maker a couple of months ago. He was so mean!

  2. Is that rooster named after, uh, Khal Drogo?

    Are you a Game of Thrones person?!?

    And my next project will be trying to UN-broody my broody hen. It's not going so well for her. Sitting day and night on unfertilized eggs. I have to prod her out with a stick.

    Good on ya' for improvising - when at all possible, try to let mother nature take over, right?? Plus, production reds lay eggs like crazy.

    1. Tee hee. Yep, Khal Drogo. I couldn't help myself. I'm so happy to hear the production reds are good layers. Honestly, when I picked them out at the feed store I wasn't sure if they were "production" for meat or eggs (or both). Whew. Un-broodying a hen is near impossible, isn't it? I've used the stick prod many a time. I recently read that you can put them in a hanging wire cage for a day or two and that makes them go un-broody. I guess they hate it. It's probably like being in a sky cell.

  3. I have Buff Orpingtons and they go broody all the time. I worried that they would starve to death the first couple of years they did that, but now I just pull them out every now and then to make sure they eat a little bit before they go back up and that's about it. Good to hear this works though. My chickens are 6 years old, and are still laying, but I anticipate they will stop soon. This will be a great solution for me when the time comes. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I've never had Buff Orps- that is good to know. My 3 banty hens (some kind of Games variety, I think) are my top broody mamas. The only other hen I've ever had get broody is this black Ameracauna. I've read that you don't have to wait 21 days to sneak chicks under a broody mama. As long as they've been setting well for several days you can go ahead and try it. Personally, I think I'd wait at least 7 days to make sure she was good and ready.

  4. اعمال شركة تنظيف بالرياض متميزة داخل المنطقة التي تعمل بها لانها تعمل علي تقديم كل ما هو جديد في عالم النظافة لتقديم خدمة متميزة للعميل فتعامل مع شركة تنظيف فلل بالرياض ستلاقي فريق من العمال لدك مختصين في اعمال نظافة الفلل وهذا يحدث ايضا مع شركة تنظيف خزانات بالرياض
    والتي تعمل علي نظافة الخزانات وتعقيها للقضاء علي الاوساخ والبكتريا الصغيرة التي توجد بها معكم ايضا شركة تنظيف مسابح بالرياض التي تعمل علي الصيانة والتنظيف بواسطة اثنين من الفنين المختصين في مجال المسابح واليك خدمة اساسية تلبي لك العيش في بيئة خالية من الحشرات الصغيرة من خلال قسم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالرياض الذي يعمل علي القضاء علي جميع الحشرات المنزلية كما يوجد قسم اخر في مجال مكافحة الحشرات وهو شركة رش مبيدات بالرياض التي تقدم خدمة الوقاية والقضاء علي هذه الافات بواسطة مبيدات طبيعية


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