Monthly Archives: July 2012

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.