Category Archives: Broody Hens

Baby chicks during the winter

I love baby chicks and was very excited when a couple of my Silkie hens were broody in December.  Because I didn’t want more bantam chickens right now, I put six Barred Rock eggs under one hen.

I have learned from experience that it is best to separate the broody hen and her eggs from the rest of the flock but you really have to wait until the hen is dedicated to the eggs.

Because the dark brown eggs were much larger than the bantam eggs, I knew if another hen laid an egg in the broody nest, I could remove it and be sure I was not removing an egg that was starting to grow into a chick.  So I left the broody hen and her eggs in her normal setting for a week.

Then I moved her to a 4×8 chain link cage and put water and food in there.  I read it is best to move the hen during the evening.  It keeps her from wanting to get up since it is time for bedding down.

She hatched out six healthy, adorable chicks on December 28th, 2015.   I put a heat lamp inside the cage and closed the cage with a tarp on three sides.  With had a couple cold nights but I knew the mom would keep those chicks warm but still…..  Ha ha.

After the chicks were two weeks old, I let them out to wander around in the 25×25 ft yard.  I have netting over the top to keep those pesky chicken hawks out.  I had to put some small holed fencing around the edge of the fence (3 ft tall) on the inside to keep the babies from going through the 2×4 inch fencing.

Now, I have another hen sitting on seven Barred Rock eggs and they are due to hatch February 9th.

I had to put the second broody hen in the 4×8 cage after a week so then I had to figure out how to make a safe place for the babies and mom to sleep during the night.  I made a closed in shelter for them but at night, I lock them up in a small cage inside their shelter.  It took two nights of catching the mom and chicks before mom realized that is where she needed to sleep. I just don’t trust that some smart predator won’t find a way thru the netting and fencing and eat my babies for a late night snack.

So right now, the mom and her six chicks are in the same yard with the second mom but she is enclosed in the 4×8 cage.  Her chicks will be ready to come out into the yard by the 23rd so the first chicks hatched will be almost 8 weeks.  I will have the first mom taken away from her chicks by then and have another divider fence up so the two sets of chicks can share the same protected area.  I have learned from experience not to let two hens around baby chicks.  I had two moms fighting over the chicks and two of the chicks were killed.

I don’t know yet what I will do with the roosters.  It seems pretty hard to sell the roosters.  We have thought about eating the roosters but we only like white meat and it is a lot of trouble for half a chicken.  There is an advertisement that says they will take any free farm animals and I am pretty sure they eat them.  I have to get rid of the roosters before I get attached to them and name them.

I really hate to have the roosters in with my hens unless I want them to fertilize the eggs.  Some hens make so much noise when the rooster is trying to mate with them and I just feel such sympathy for them.  It is like being raped.  So, now I have the roosters separated from then hens which makes for more fencing, more housing and feed for animals that are not giving anything back.  What to do?  Ha ha

I have to be careful with the chicks hatching because that’s how I ended up with 120 chickens a few years ago.  I was selling chickens and eggs back then.  I am more interested in keeping it small and just trying to have eggs for us to be more self-sufficient and eating healthier food.

February baby chicks are here

The weather has been so confusing for the plants and animals here in Florida.  This weekend it will be freezing but it in a day or two later, back in the 70s and 80s.  That is one thing I really like about Florida but I do miss snow.

So I have some Silkie hens that are broody and I let one hen sit on five eggs and she hatched out three Barred Rocks female chicks for me.  Now I have another Silkie hen sitting on some more Barred Rock eggs.  I put seven eggs under her and they are due to start hatching March 7th.  It is hard not to want baby chicks around.

I feather-sexed the three chicks and I did that test where you hold the chicks by the scruff of the neck and see if their legs dangle down.  Both tests showed the chicks are all females.  I am thinking my daughter, Bonnie, will take them since she just bought a house and is wanting to start gardening and raising some small animals.

It is such a nice bonding time when your children are interested in things you have knowledge about and they seek out your advice.   We will be heading to NC to help fence their yard and discuss garden ideas and canning.   It is going to be so much fun.  I am also looking forward to cooking for my daughter and my daughter-in-law, Brooke.  They think I am a great cook which encourages me to cook a lot.


Broody Chickens and Cool Weather

Well, my one Silkie hen sat on her five eggs for over 25 days and I took her off the eggs and put her back with the other chickens.  We had some pretty cold weather and I don’t think she could keep them warm enough so none hatched.

I have another hen that is Silkie/Americauna mix and she has been sitting for 12 days on five Barred Rock eggs.  Her maternity ward (lol) opens in a different direction so I am hoping the cool air won’t be cooling down the temp of the eggs.

Yesterday I noticed I have a white Silkie that is broody, too.  These 70 plus degree temperatures are certainly confusing my chickens and the plants.  Because my white Silkie rooster is in with my Silkies and my mixed Silkie/Americaunas, I don’t want to hatch any of their eggs right now.  I have a separate yard that I will put my Silkies in with a Silkie rooster if and when I want more of their breed.

Baby chicks are always fun and the last ones I hatched out was when my grand daughter, Maddy, came for a visit last July because I wanted babies for her to enjoy.  I still have 42 chickens and I have 6 dozen eggs in my refrigerator right now.  I have a friend I give eggs to and then my two sister-in-laws live behind our property and they appreciate the eggs.

I was thinking about buying 25 chicks from McMurray Hatcheries and raise them to about five months and then sell them.  So by July or August, even if I sold them for 10 dollars each, I could have 250 dollars.  Of course, you have to subtract the money you paid for the chickens (75 plus shipping) and their food for 5 months.  With 2 acres of land, they can find a lot to eat off the land, too.  The best part is you get to enjoy baby chicks even if you don’t make a fortune.

It is a good life.



Hen sitting on eggs in winter

Isn’t it amazing how chickens go broody during the cold weather?  I would think they would just want to hatch out during the spring.  Well, I have a Silkie sitting right now and another trying to be broody….I say trying because I keep stealing her eggs.

Trinidad had six eggs under her to start with but now only has four.  The good news is they are my Barred Rock eggs which is what I really want to hatch.  Now that I have a beautiful rooster, I am eager to get some babies from him.  I bought a hen with him and she is a also gorgeous.

I wanted to again tell you how friendly I have found “chicken” people to be.  This lady (and her husband) whom we got the above rooster and hen from are so nice.  They GAVE us elk meat and deer meat.  Now, I did not cook the meat but my sister-in-law cooked it and feed it to my husband.  lol  He loved it.  Not me, I didn’t even try it.

Well, I will let you know if I get some baby chicks.  I may let the other hen start sitting, too.  I have heat lamps so I can keep my mommies and babies warm.  But, just a reminder, don’t let both mommas sit in the same area because they will fight over the babies and even kill the babies.  I don’t know if that is a normal thing to happen but it happened to me with two Silkie moms.  I let my broody hen sit for about a week or so before I move the mom and her eggs to a “maternity ward” away from the other hens.





Hatching Time and Keeping the Chicks Safe

I have neglected this blog for quite awhile but with my husband retiring and having him around 24/7, I have definitely made some adjustments to my life.  That is a good thing.  My husband calls it true freedom when you retire.  He also says he use to watch the clock to get up, go to bed, get to work, get off work but now he watches the calender to see when our checks roll in.

It is so hot here now and the hens are all wanting to sit on the eggs though some of them don’t even have a rooster with them so the eggs are not fertilized.  I was having a problem with so many of them being broody that the hens couldn’t get into the nests to lay the eggs. I was finding eggs on the ground.

I did what I read to do.  I took the broody hens out of the yard and put them into another yard where there were no nests to sit on.  There is shelter and food and water but no nesting boxes.  They pace the fence line but in a few days, they seem to cool off.  It is amazing how hot the hens body feels when she is broody.  I realize it has to be hot to get the temperature right for the chick to grow in the egg.  But, every time I pick up a broody hen, it still amazes me.

I did let a Barred Rock sit on some Silkie eggs since the Barred Rock eggs were not fertile.  Only one hatched out and I let her stay with the chick until she started laying eggs again, which was five weeks.  She was eager to get out of the smaller yard back into the grassy area.

I don’t think I will let the BR hens hatch out my Silkie eggs anymore because I ended up separating mom and baby.  If a Silkie would have hatched the chick out, being a Silkie chick, at least they would have remained in the same yard together.  I felt bad separating them but the momma definitely wanted out of the smaller yard.

I decided the chick was too small to put into the yard with the other Silkies…..fearing they might pick on her/him.  I have a Silkie hen sitting on eggs in another area so I put her in there.  Silkies are such good mommas and the baby chick ran right over and tried to get under the hen for protection from me.  The hen just looked at her and ignored her basically.  But, I have a feeling that she will accept her as her own… has happened before…and they will be fine.

One time, I had two Silkie moms and their babies in one yard  and in a 24 hour period, three of the babies died.  I think the mommas killed them perhaps while fighting over them.  I guess I will never know but I NEVER put two mommas and their babies together now.

Also, I had a hen in a 4×4 area with her babies and she dug and actually buried one of her babies.  So if I need to use the 4×4 yard, I put a board down with lots of hay on it so the hen cannot dig/scratch.  The baby was so small and I think she just kicked a lot of dirt on her and she couldn’t get up and move.  She was the youngest of the chicks and the others were 3 or 4 days older and they moved a lot faster.

And then you must always keep the correct type of waterer in the baby chicks yard, too.  Do not put any water in their yard that they can drown in either.  That has also happened to me.  I had the small waterer for the baby and a container for the mom.  It never dawned on me that the baby could even get into the water.

When the chicks are very young, they just want to stay close to momma but as they get a little older they will start wandering away.  I lost another chick when one went thru the fencing and the momma couldn’t get to her.  I don’t know if the chicken hawk got it or the annoying cats that frequent my yard.

Now, I add  a very small gauge fencing around the bottom two feet of the baby chicks yard.  So there is double fencing on the bottom two feet.  You need to bring it lower than the ground.  Let it lie on the ground an inch or two.  When the hen starts scratching and digging, she often moves some of the dirt and then you end up with a place the chick can slip out.

Also, don’t forget to mark your eggs with an X (the ones you want to hatch)  if you have your broody hens with your other hens so you know which eggs to remove from under the broody hen.

I let the hen sit in the regular nest with the other hens for a week or ten days before I move her into my “maternity yard”.    If you use an incubator, you know the last few days you don’t want to turn the eggs.  So, I want to move the momma and eggs before it gets to those last days when the eggs should not be disturbed.  Try not to make the momma too mad and upset her as you gently pick her up.  I usually have my husband with me and he either carries the momma or the eggs as we try to be just as careful with the momma as with the eggs.  When we put the momma into the prepared yard that has water and food, sometimes she doesn’t settle down on the eggs immediately.  But she will.  I think she likes to check out her new accommodations.

My grand daughter is coming to visit without her parents and I am hoping more of the eggs will hatch so Maddy can enjoy the babies.  After all, who doesn’t love babies?  Even if they are chickens.