Silkie mamas rule the roost March 27, 2012

 

Silkie Hen with her 2 ducklings

Even after years of chicken keeping, I have yet to try incubating myself.  I have 8 wonderful Silkies who are willing to hatch just about anything I give them. When I’m not in the mood to be overrun with chicks, but they insist on going broody, I toss them a couple of golf balls to keep them happy.

Over time I’ve been back and forth with having a rooster, so there are times when I just don’t have fertile eggs on hand to give them. I sometimes get a few from a friend, or order fertile eggs through the mail instead.  No matter what I’ve had my Silkies sit on, they’ve hatched the babies out and treated them as their own. The only downside is that they can only sit on 3-4 standard size eggs, compared to the 6 bantam size eggs,  in one clutch.

I’ve tested these little mama hens out with many different egg situations to see how they handled so many different kinds of chicks. Just to really mix it up, 2 years ago, we gave them 2 pekin duck eggs. The hatch time was much longer then a chicken egg, taking 35 days. My silkie was a champ and hatched 2 lovely ducklings we’ve kept and loved since.  Though they were very different from anything she’d ever hatched before, she loved them just the same.

A broody hen is on a calender, though. If your broody has been sitting for a few weeks before you give her fertile eggs to sit on, she likely won’t make it the additional 21 days needed to hatch the eggs you’ve introduced. In cases like this, you can try introducing already hatched baby chicks to your mama hen, instead. There are some special considerations when introducing shipped chicks to a broody. While tricky, it can be done successfully!

  1. Try to introduce the chicks around the 21st day, or slightly after. The mamas know when you introduce too early, and that those babies can’t possibly be theirs.
  2. Sneak the little peepers under mama in the cover of night. She’ll be too groggy to realize exactly what happened but will be pleasantly surprised when she wakes to find the little chickies in the morning.
  3. Be vigilant: there is a possibility your hen could reject the chicks you put under her. It usually won’t happen with a Silkie, but it’s likely with other breeds. Be prepared to remove the chicks immediately if this happens.

Keep an eye on your new chicken family to be certain everything is working out, and enjoy! There’s nothing quite like seeing a mama hen take care of fluffy new babies.

 

11 Comments
Earlene Evans March 27th, 2012

I would like to buy two hens that have fancy feathers so the children at my tiny preschool can feed them. I wouldn’t mind one rooster so they could have chicks sometime in the future. I think these life lessons would be invaluable. I just don’t know where to start besides a farm supply store.

Michelle March 27th, 2012

I have a part silkie sitting on oyster shells! She started laying her eggs in a box of whole oyster shells. We’d remove the egg daily. But she must think the shells are hers?

I’ve introduced chicks to setting hens just before sunrise, while the hen is still asleep. I check the brood at sunrise to see if they’re accepted. If they aren’t accepted, I remove the chicks and repeat the next morning. After a few days, I’ve found the hen adopts the chicks

LindaG March 27th, 2012

This is a very informative post. Thank you.
I don’t care for silkies, but if they make good brood hens, then it might be worth it to have a couple.
Will they do well with regular size chickens though?
We don’t have any chickens yet, but we hope to by this fall, so I’m trying to learn all I can.
Thanks for this timely post!

Dawn Buesing March 29th, 2012

I absolutely adore my Silkies! I have found the old trick of dusting the nest of with baby powder a few days before hatch time and then slipping in a couple of babies, which you have dusted with bay powder, at night works very well at tricking the hens to accept them. Silkies take being a mama very seriously and have even had a hen who would go and steal other hens chicks!

Pat Sneed April 16th, 2012

Just venturing into raising chicks! Learning a lot. Wish I had done this years ago!

Myra May 4th, 2012

My silkie went broody and was snagging all the other girls eggs. My buff Orpington caught on to it and also went broody and started stealing eggs. When I opened the coop door yesterday, the Buff Orpington had decided the Silkie was her baby and had her snuggled up close to her with a wing over her. Since she’s been mothering the Silkie she’s stopped stealing eggs. The silkie seems to be handling it ok but she’s not broody anymore.

Carol May 8th, 2012

I leave eggs for my Silkie to hatch but she jumps from one next to the next trying to sit on everyone elses eggs. I collect them as often as I can. Maybe I should lock her up with her fertile egg.

Aurelia June 18th, 2012

Informative I am getting 2 blue silkies from MPC and am exited for next. Years setting

George June 30th, 2012

I started keeping chickens again a few weeks ago. Had about 20 or so a couple of years ago, finally gave them away. Got the urge again this spring, built a couple of coops, 1 for the “big” chickens and one for the silkies. I have 8 chickens and 4 guineas in the big coop at night, and 2 frizzled black cochins and 2 blue silkies in the small coop at night. They have about 28 acres here to free-range on. I have a 2 acre yard that I have a chain link and 6′ stockade fence around. The chickens have been content to stay in the yard so far, even with a “chicken” door leading to the pasture area.
I have an order of 25 silkies due around 18 Jul from Cackle Hatchery. After reading the blogs above, it will make adoption a heck of a lot easier. Hopefully, they will all get adopted in a couple of weeks or so!!!!
The chickens like live crickets from the bait store, along with meal worms! They get watermelon and cantaloupe on really hot days like we are having now. When I walk out in the yard, all the chickens will start running, lol. They are afraid they will miss a bite. BTW, I don’t eat eggs or chicken, lmao. I do have a lot of friends and relatives that do, though. I just like the company and the bug free yard.

ashley January 2nd, 2016

Can u help me once again my mallard female has been roasting on her nest last night I went out there and she had to baby chickens or one and I remove them to come inside put them under a heat lamp this morning there was another one she will not let me get near him which is understandable I am new to all this raisin chickens and ducks do I leave the chickens with her even though she’s a duck or do I can you bring him inside it’s cold here and I didn’t anticipate raising baby chicks or ducks so I didn’t split them up when the rest of the flock and everything I’ve read says that the other flock will be mean to if you don’t mind can you please help me and give me some advice

Lissa January 4th, 2016

Hi, Ashley. I’m afraid it’s difficult to tell what is happening, based on your comment. (We can’t tell whether your duck is trying to steal baby chicks from a broody, or whether she has hatched them herself, for instance.) Please email info at mypetchicken dot com, and one of our customer service peeps may be able to help. Although we’re chicken (rather than duck) experts, several of our peeps keep more than one type of poultry, and may be able to offer advice.

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