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Author Topic: Rearing chicks with a broody hen  (Read 586 times)


  • Joined Jan 2015
Rearing chicks with a broody hen
« on: October 19, 2020, 11:34:11 am »
I've a hen who has successfully hatched and reared 5 chicks, who are now 7 weeks old. They are in a pen inside the main henhouse (a converted stable) but as they grow, space is getting tight! They are still too small to let out - I don't trust the yard cats, or our dogs, never mind wild predators! - so at what point would you remove the hen? I have tried taking her out during the day, but she gets very upset and angry. They still all cuddle up together with mum at night, too.

The other problem is feeding - I've been giving the hen layers pellets while the babies were on chick crumb, but they are moving onto growers pellets now and apparently they shouldn't be eating the layers. If I leave the hen with them, would it harm her to eat the growers pellets for a few weeks, until the youngsters are old enough for layers? I have had hens rear chicks in the past but can't remember what I did with them!

The most amazing thing though is that at the moment it looks like all 5 are pullets :D

I'd be grateful for any thoughts /shared experience!


  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Rearing chicks with a broody hen
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2020, 01:05:12 pm »
We used to separate ours at 6 weeks, but at that time mummy was getting fed up of them anyway. Sounds like you must give them a bigger secure run before you get boredom problems, like feather pecking or bullying. She'll be fine on rearers. Yes at that age layers will be bad for the chicks. As a rule we don't switch from rearers onto layers until the first egg is laid, so 20+ weeks and with our latest we phased the change over a week.

The odds of all pullets is pretty slim, but so was was the chance that our first hatch would be 8 cockerels and one hen!


  • Joined Jan 2015
Re: Rearing chicks with a broody hen
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2020, 02:44:42 pm »
Thanks for that! Yes, I am thinking to give them the run of a whole unused stable and just shut them in their pen overnight to be extra safe. Mum doesn't seem fed up with them just yet but I'll keep a close eye on them, hopefully if they have more space there won't be any issues. I'd like to enable them to stay together until they join the main flock.

And yes, what are the chances of them all being girls! But the first ones I hatched years ago were ALL cockerels, 6 out of 6. And the most recent ones - just 2 chicks - were also both males. So I guess it might just be possible :D


  • Joined Jul 2010
Re: Rearing chicks with a broody hen
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2020, 07:38:06 pm »
The hen will be fine with growers’ pellets, and if she’s not annoyed with her chicks they can just as well stay together and keep each other warm at night. I just fed them all chick crumb, the broodies don’t lay anyway.

I’ve had a few ghastly mums (they only had their chance once) but most have been fine with having their chicks hanging around with them as the months progressed.

I never had to separate them, they just all merged into the flock once the chicks were old enough to run fast / not get too injured from some pecks by the existing adults whose flock they were merging into. There was ample space for them to grow big and strong with mum before slowly and carefully being introduced into the big run. The mums never complained about having to eat chick crumb or growers pellets  :)


  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Rearing chicks with a broody hen
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2020, 08:47:47 am »
She will be fine eating grower pellet. Be aware though that if it contains ACS then you shouldn't eat any eggs she lays. Some of my broodies come back into lay when their chicks are still quite young - 4 or 5 weeks - but it is breed dependent. If you feed grower pellet without ACS then you can eat any eggs produced. I think by the time she does come into lay (although it quite late in the season now) she will certainly be fed up of her babies and you can take her away from them.

I currently have a dutch bantam free ranging with her single cock chick (she only incubated one egg) who is absolutely tiny at 12 weeks but managing to evade geese, ducks, cats and red kites (and me!) very easily.


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