How do I accomadate "setting" hens-housing? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Even tho I have read lots and lots of info about raising chickens, chicks etc... I have yet to figure this one thing out. When hens are "setting" - how do you configure the housing setup to accomadate more than one hen at a time? Let me explain. We have 2 chicken coops that are attatched but seperate. When we notice a hen setting we move her and the eggs from the large coop into the small coop and put them all in a nesting box. She has access to a small fenced in yard area that she enters or exits from the coop door. This works great as long as we have only one hen at a time. Right now we have 4 hens setting. We moved them all in the little coop with their own nesting boxes. What a mess, they fuss with each other, get on & off their nests, and in general cause havoc! One hen hatched out an early chick and the other hen almost killed the little guy. What am I missing? I can not hardly believe in days past, people had a yard area with housing completely seperated for each individual hen & chicks?!? Any ideas? Also, we are currently in the process of building a new hen house so are able to design it anyway we choose, any suggestions for how to do it that will make this process smoother? We really want our momma hens to hatch and raise their own chicks. Thanks in advance for any ideas! Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 05, 2000


Update to the "little guy" chick, he did die. We had moved him, momma hen and the nest of eggs to our brooder after the "attack" - too late, should have done it sooner! Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 05, 2000.

Dear Wendy, I've learned the hard way too. I can't let a big hen (as opposed to banny's)try to set in the chicken house proper. She'll get up to eat, and other hens'll hop on her nest and lay thier eggs (like cowbirds). I have about a 95% failure rate letting hens set with other hens about. If they do hatch chicks, the other hens'll kill em when they jump nest.

I've got some separate pens that have dark places in em, I set the hen alone in their with her eggs. If they hatch, they can stay in these pens for at least a month. The pens abut the main chicken pen. If a young chick were to get out, the older hens would kill it. But, if the chicks get a little age on em (a month minimum) and then they're released into the chicken yard with the older hens, no problem. I guess it has something to do with 'introducing' new birds to the flock. I can't bring a new chicken home and put it directly with the flock. The others'll kill it, all of em trying to get 'the pecking order' straightened out. Even the lowest ranked birds will attack the newbie.

I've got lots of free range bannies. Early in the year, I'll capturate the hen and chicks when they first jump nest, and put them in the totally secure pens. After a month I can let em loose in the wild or to the other hens with no problem. The free range banny hens can and do raise chicks without assistance from me, but fire ants take a heavy toll except early in the year. I can sevin dust my enclosure pens and have a 75% or better survival rate. Before fire ants arrived, chickens were in heaven if they free ranged. Now, maybe 5% of my free range bannies can hatch out chicks without a healthy dose of sevin dust on their nest every third day or so. Without sevin dust, as soon as the chicks start pipping, the fire ants attack and kill/eat the chick inside the shell. Soon, there are so many ants, the hen has to jump nest without her hard earned chicks.

Sorry to have rambled on, but I've got several hundred chickens at any one time. I might not know international banking, but I know chickens.

-- phil briggs (, August 05, 2000.

Hi Wendy,

I mark my eggs that the hens are setting, then if another chicken lays an egg in that nest, I'm able to remove it. I leave all the chickens together and haven't really had a problem with killings. Remember, your hens were already upset being in a different and smaller coop. Mine do not like to be seperated and will fight going back into the big coop. They all free range during the day. I will also stick new chicks (mail order) under setting hens at night and the setting hens will accept them. The rest will accept them because they think they belong. I do lock them in the nest for two days to be sure they are accepted and eating.

I guess I should mention that I only have about 20 chickens and 2 roosters so that may be why I don't have problems. I think the free ranging keeps them happy and busy too.

-- Dee (, August 05, 2000.

Thanks Phil & Dee for your answers! Dee, wow that would be nice to not have to move them and such. Our nests are up off the ground, we could not leave them there, nest are too small for food, water and such. We only free range after garden season is over and thru winter. I bet that does help. Phil, thanks, your post was not too long, am glad I am not the only one having to deal with this he-he! I think we will not worry about them having access to the "yard" area during this time & after chicks are born. That way I can still seperate them in the coop and keep them safe from each other! A month should do it? If so, we will go with that, and they can enjoy the outside yard area at that time, at least they will be alive! Thank You both! Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 06, 2000.

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