Ten Secrets to a Successful Broody Hen and Chick Adoption


 fuzzy chick   

When it comes to hatching and raising baby chicks, there are a few different ways to go about it. 

The original method is to have hens sit on fertile eggs for about three weeks, hatch the eggs, and raise the chicks themselves. Modern-day alternatives include hatching eggs in incubators and purchasing chicks from hatcheries.

Most incubator and hatchery chicks are raised by people, in brooders outfitted with heat lamps to keep the chicks warm and dry. But another option is to introduce tiny chicks to broody hens and let the mamas do what comes naturally.

Two years ago we raised hatchery chicks in a brooder in the barn. Last year we used an incubator and had two hens hatch a few eggs.

This year, three of our hens went broody in the same week. April was settled in her own nest, while Hedwig and Piggy brooded in tandem. A month later, none of their eggs had hatched. I was ready to order a batch of hatchery chicks anyway, so I thought I’d try to see if any of the broody hens would adopt the chicks. 

10/16/2019 7:44:12 AM

Due to a cascade of events too numerous to list, I had 24 chicks hatch on the same day. Nine under a small hen and the rest from an incubator. As I really didn't want to raise the chicks myself, I decided to have Wilma raise all the chicks. I had a large crate with a heat lamp at one end. I removed Wilma from the nest and confined her. I gathered all her nesting material, her chicks and the incubator chicks and put them in the crate. I released Wilma but kept the crate door closed for about 2 hours. By the time Wilma could get to her chicks they were all mixed up with the other chicks. She looked somewhat confused when see saw all the chicks but accepted them all. I lost one chick but the rest thrived. It was funny watching 23 chicks following this small hen around the yard.

2/16/2018 3:11:43 PM

Random story: I have an Orpington hen go brood and I put duck eggs under hen. She went full term with them and made raising them so much easier then having to set up a brooder. It was a joyful delight to check on her and the ducklings and have a duckling randomly pop out from the feathers on her back as Orpingtons are quite showy birds.

2/16/2018 8:55:47 AM

You can use good broody hens to adopt and raise all kinds of poultry chicks and even ducklings and goslings. I use mostly silky hens because of their great disposition, and have given them guinea, pheasant, turkey, duck, and goose "chicks" to raise. They work especially well for hard to raise chicks like wood and mandarin ducklings and many of the exotic pheasants.

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