Saturday, June 8, 2013

Selling a broodys chicks (without giving her a nervous breakdown!)

Being broody is contagious. Seriously....it's like the flu. Once one hen catches it, they all catch it! Ok, so maybe that's not entirely true but it sure seems like it. Letting your hens hatch their own chicks certainly is the most cost effective (and least labor intensive) way to expand your own flock. It always seems like one hen goes broody and what starts as "oh good, we'll have chicks this year" quickly turns into 4 hens broody and "what the heck am I gonna do with all these chicks?"

selling a hens chicks


First, if broody's have overrun your nest boxes you can check out how we beat that crunch for free right here: Free nest boxes. Next, you're probably going to want to sell some of those chicks. If you've ever tried to take a hen away from her babies you know what a huge fit a little bird can pitch! Squawking, hollering, pacing, frantically searching and just generally breaking my heart! awwww. Sometimes it doesn't even end there though. Take her chicks away too soon after hatch and they often go right back in the nest box and try to hatch chicks again. It's a hormonal thing and if they don't raise the chicks long enough...the hormones just don't have time to 'reset' and they still have that need for babies. This can be a vicious cycle. 
guinea keets raised by hen

Unfortunately we run things around here like a business and I can't always do what the hen wants. I came up with a simple solution. Never EVER take her last baby! I will sell her chicks off one by one (or sometimes faster) but never EVER sell that last baby! Eventually it outgrows her and when she's ignoring it, I move it down to the grow out pen. Then it can sell. If for some reason I want to keep a certain color or breed, I will either give her an egg or 2 to hatch or slip the chick under her on hatch day. That way there's no worries at all, she's already raising a keeper. I often give my Silkie hens some Guinea keets to hatch, they just grow up so much tamer....and since that baby is destined to live here I don't have to worry about taking her last baby. 


Sometimes they do still get upset when I take a few babies, but they calm down a whole lot faster when they have some kids left to watch over. It stresses the hen less and stresses me less knowing she'll calm down quickly.

~L

9 comments:

  1. Awesome!! Thank you for sharing! I was wondering what to do in this situation... I have a hen this year with nine and next year I will probably have more. It never even crossed my mind to make sure she always has at least one left to care for.

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    1. It took me awhile to figure it out myself. It makes the transition so much easier on both me and the hen. lol

      ~L

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  2. Thank You for that info!!! I need to save this!

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  3. Such a good and compassionate idea, it just makes sense. My broody has 7 babies right now and we're keeping them all this time but next time I'll need to sell them off so this is very good advise.

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    1. Thanks! It was just so heartbreaking to see her looking for all her babies...they cluck a little if you take 1 or 2, but get over it in about 5 minutes. lol Good luck with your chicks!

      ~L

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  4. I never knew. I'm glad I'm learning all of this BEFORE I get chickens.
    Thanks for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist!
    Hope to see you again this week.

    http://back2basichealth.blogspot.com/2013/07/tuesdays-with-twist-15.html

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    1. Let me know when you get chickens. I'd love to see pictures!!!!

      ~L

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  5. It usually helps if you steal the others at night when mama is sleeping, too.

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