Our Broody Hen, Baby Chicks, and the American Coop

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In my previous blogs I chronicled my first experience with a broody hen and how and why we decided to let her be broody, slip baby chicks under her, and grow our flock.

The first few weeks with the new momma and her babies has been such a fascinating journey.

Here’s what I learned so far.

Carolina Coops - blog - Broody hen and chicks and the American Coop - safe in the dog crate

The American Coop Rocks!

Well, I already knew that, but now I am finding out even more reasons why it’s such a great chicken coop. Like I mentioned before, Momma Louise and her chicks made it down into the run on the first day. (granted the chicks were about 4 days old, but still!) So, I scrambled to find a way to keep them safe but clearly not just in the henhouse as I initially hoped.

I got my dog’s old crate and put deer netting around the bottom so the little ones wouldn’t just pop out, because they would and they did.

We felt they would need more space, so we ended up buying one of those cheap, Made in China, coops as a temporary home. We got it for much less than they retail for, but in my opinion, much more than it’s worth.

Carolina Coops - blog - Broody hen and chicks and the American Coop - under the henhouse
Momma and chicks hang out safely under the henhouse of the American Coop.

I figured after a week or so, since we were having a week of showers in Raleigh at that time, I would transition them to this coop and I even got a little pen used for small animals to give them some more space.

I knew if any animal got in that fenced in area, they could easily get into that coop.

I was worried about strong winds blowing it, predators, too hot, too cold, you name it, I worried about it.

And because of all the worries with that Made in China, balsam wood coop, I decided to just save it in case of emergencies, for example, if I had a sick hen to isolate, or new hens to incorporate, some sort of temporary shelter.

Carolina Coops - blog - Broody hen and chicks and the American Coop - eating a snack

The Problem and the Solution

I put up the small animal exercise pen inside the American Coop. I would just unfold it so it kind of attached to the dog crate and put it up under the henhouse. I laid bricks around so it wouldn’t fall over.

This allowed Momma and the chickies to scratch and have more space and also allowed the others to access the henhouse to lay and get food and oyster shells, while still keeping the little ones safe inside the coop.

It worked pretty well too. I occasionally found that they all escaped (don’t ask me now) or just one chick jumped over or dug under, or one of the other flock members got trapped in there with them. (such dramatic panic!)

Carolina Coops - blog - Broody hen and chicks and the American Coop - flock free ranges
Group shot!

Preparing for the Next Step

The arrangement was only temporary, as Momma and her chicks were out with the general population (the other 5 girls) probably at about 4 weeks old. In the meantime, I just wanted to make sure they couldn’t pop out of the side of the fence and not figure out how to get back in. It’s too dangerous on our little urban lot.

Louise is already itching to go back to the henhouse roost bar. She went up twice the other night and the little ones were just looking at her pathetically. Saying, “Mom! Where are you going???!!!!!!!” “Come back here!”

And she did.

At 3 weeks old, the chicks learned how to forage, take a dust bath, perch up on things, and sharpen their beaks. Having chicks being raised by a hen, whether she hatched them, or they were slipped under her after about 21 days, allows them to learn how to chicken so much faster than if you buy baby chicks or have some hatch in an incubator.

Carolina Coops - blog - new chicks venture out with momma

Now at 4 weeks, they are free ranging with the rest of the flock. The chicks are still not following Louise up the ramp at night, but they got halfway up, so it’s just a matter of days now, I’m sure.

Carolina Coops - Ingrid Fromm - Web MarketingI don’t know how long it will be before I do this again, if ever, but I’m so happy I did get to experience this at least once. Seeing Louise and her chicks interact with each other is just priceless.

There is no better teacher than what nature provides and there is no easier way to add to your flock than this.

Until next time,

—Ingrid, Crazy Chicken Lady


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