They where born on Tue / Wed (day 21/22) and spent Wed locked in the house with the first chicks venturing out of the nest into the house to find dish of food & water I put in for them.
On Thursday (day 23), mum got off the nest leaving four unhatched eggs - 3 seemed pretty cold and one hot, but cooled quickly & Mum didn't get back on the nest, so presume dead in shell. They spent yesterday tucked up in the house with food and water, but door open.
Today (day 24) they have ventured into the run and found the food and water I've left for them. They've spent pretty much all day in the run, exploring, soooooo sweet
My questions are based on the complete lack of info about what happens in the first few days after hatching with a broody. there seems acres of info about brooders, but total lack of useful info on broodys, just "let her get on with it"!?
- When do I remove food and water from the house, do I leave for a few days so they can eat & drink wherever they are, or remove so they have to go outdoors?
- Do I remove all the straw from the house that's left from the nest (leaving a flat sawdust based floor) as mum seems to completely ignore corner with the straw in it other than to scratch around in it?
- How on earth do I feed mum corn / "adult" food (not layers pellets) as advised, when she just drops it in front of the chicks, doesn't eat it... all the books say put it where chicks cant reach it, but HOW!?
Mums comb & wattle seem to look over pale / white, is this normal, or is she lacking in something?
We don't use broodies anymore BB. We lost two lovely hens to burnout and now use incubators. Standard practice over here, where eggs are incubated artificially and hatched then slipped under a pre-set broody. Like England is in the dark ages!
She seems fine on chick crumb and eating it, so will leave her be and not try to add anything else into her diet. Funnily enough, she seems to set up camp for the night half on the dish of food in the house and eats her fill then, rather than during the day from what I've seen. the chicks also carry on eating whilst under her wing, but will need to remove soon as you're right about filling crop before bed. We've had a lot of heavy showers today and having food and (a tiny) dish of water in the house has meant they can continue chomping whilst it's raining..
She is still ignoring the straw completely, so have removed it from the house. Silly thing ate a long strand of it before I could catch her, just don't think she is used to it as I don't give it to them in the nest boxes and she hatched the eggs in a flowerpot with sawdust in it only. The only reason I put the straw in the house in the first place was to help the chicks get back in the pot as a ramp and to stop them getting boxed into corners between the pot and house in the first 24 hours.
I take your point about burning out broodies Chris, it is a long and hard run for a mum to sit, then raise a brood. I don't plan to raise oodles of chicks though, just wanted 2 more birds and thought it was a bit daft paying £50 for two pol pekins when I could just ask one of them to raise me some chicks as they are so broody!
I chose my mum carefully - largest healthiest, calm and friendly and not flighty. Also thought long and hard about the 'cockerel' issues and steeled myself for disposing of them when time comes. I bought 8 eggs so as not to overload mum and hope to god I get two females as its going to be hard if I only get one out of four. I can house up to 3 more in the main house, so again, thought about future housing / living arrangements rather than just piling in
Only thing I can do now is watch 'chick vision' with a huge smile on my face every day