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.