Eat This, Feed Me

Adoptive Mothers on the Job


After much struggle, I have succeeded in getting some chicks into my coop. I picked up a box from the hatchery yesterday at the post office and was able to quietly, over the course of a few hours, stick 26 bantam chicks under the hot butts of two broody hens.

While one chick arrived weak and didn’t make it, the rest seem to be doing well. The broody hens are extremely maternal, ready to peck anybody who tries to bother their chicks. My three other adult hens I’ve shut into the coop–I don’t want any babies falling the three feet from the opening to the ground. They seem merely mesmerized by what’s occurring.

I think hens really know their business when it comes to rearing the young.

Posted by on September 28, 2012 at 11:33 am, in the category Eat This, Feed Me.
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9 Responses to “Adoptive Mothers on the Job”

  1. Deirdre says:

    Aren’t baby chicks just the cutest? I have nine chicks in the brooder and two more eggs pipped in the incubator. My husband wants them brooded outside, but I insisted on keeping them inside a week or two because I want them where I can see them.

  2. I’m really curious how you sneak chicks under a hen. Do you distract them? Is it just a question of pushing one under and then waiting a few minutes until mom forgets what just happened? I want details! :-)

    • Alan, these hens were Broody with a capital B.

      I put the chicks under them one at a time, pulling out an egg in exchange. Even though the hens objected to what I was doing, they didn’t budge off the nest.

  3. Sandra Knauf says:

    Thank goodness it worked and hooray! This is a story with a happy ending for everyone–you got chicks, the hens got chicks, and the chicks got mommas.

  4. KathyG says:

    I am so curious to see how this works out, starting peeps this late in the year. My single broody hen, a Dominique, is still tenaciously sitting on her nest (empty but for the golf balls I keep around to encourage laying and discourage egg eating), now going into her 7th week. She has lost weight, is just as firmly committed to setting as ever, and I am actually wishing for frost to come (cooler temperatures) or an early molt, just to get her back to normalcy. My only hesitation is having to deal with 50% boyos once they are grown. Very cool that you are doing this. I look forward to updates.

  5. Daniel says:

    I agree. I’ve had hens hatch and raise clutches for four years and have come to the conclusion that every chick deserves a mother.

  6. John says:

    An added plus is that roosters raised by hens tend to not attack humans. Like a lot of animals – hand raising really screws them up. Let mama do the job and everything will be better.

  7. KayG says:

    We just had a surprise hatch of 14 chicks from our little red hen hidden in a nest in a nest we were unable to find. This more than doubled our flock!
    My question is: do I need to keep the chicks from the 2 roosters and if so, for how long?

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