(Helen’s with her latest chicks.)
Letting a broody hen hatch and raise her chicks has been a good experience for us. We have had two broodies which we allowed to raise chicks. Helen (who has gone through the process twice) and Rietta (only once). The experience with Helen was such a good one. She has recently hatched her second clutch of eggs. She is a GREAT mother…very attentive and protective. Rietta, however, was the complete opposite. She was a very good and loyal broody, but not a good mother. In fact, I ended up taking the one chick that hatched from her, and raising it with five chicks we got from the feed store. It was my first time to ever raise chicks.
Now that I’ve done it both ways, I’d like to give my opinion on both ways. It’s just my opinion. I’m sure there are others out there who might have strong opinions to the contrary. These are my observations:
Broodies Raising Chicks:
1) She does EVERYTHING. Both times, Helen has had those chicks out within the first week of them hatching. She teaches them how to forage, dust bathe, where to drink, how to preen, etc.
2) It is so cute to see them be-bopping along, ahead or behind Helen, but always close. The instinct God built into his creatures is amazing to see in action.
3) She knows how to keep them perfectly warm when they need it…no need to worry about keeping them under a heat lamp.
4) The chicks seem to integrate into the rest of the flock much more easily, with less flack from the older chickens.
1) The chick’s that Helen has raised are afraid of humans. When I reach down to pick them up, they scream, as if to say, “GOD-ZEE-RAHHHH!” They are terrified of me, and that makes me sad because I so want to pick them up and love on them. Helen does not like for me to pick them up to the point that she will fly up and try to rip the chick out of my hands.
2) More chance of the chicks being eaten by predators. We’ve been blessed in that none of our animals have been attacked by predators, even out here in the wild.
3) We’ve had quite a few eggs that didn’t hatch, and/or hatched and then died.
4.) You have to wait until you have a hen that goes broody.
5) Good broodies are not always good mothers, too.
Raising Chicks Myself
1) The chicks are VERY friendly. Even now that they are older, they will fly up onto my shoulder, or onto our lap if we are sitting down.
2) The chicks are protected from predators while young and very vulnerable.
3) I can keep a better eye on them to see if any of them are having any problems, like pasty butt, etc.
1) It is a LOT of work. We had to keep ours inside with the heat lamp. I had to constantly refresh their water and food.
2) They stink! I had to change their bedding frequently.
3) They are noisy. We could hear them all the way in the other room.
4) Constant worry about whether they were too hot or too cold.
I am glad that I have had the opportunity to do it both ways, and I liked both methods, but they both have their advantages and disadvantages.