Now that we are using hens to hatch and raise our chicks it is very important that we are able to get them to live in the same pen together with their chicks. Last year we were able to successfully have Eve and Ruth live together with their babies in the Mama Hen Pen.
But our future attempts to get Eve to live with our other broody hens, Banana and Sarah, were not successful. Both Sarah and Banana were attacking Eve relentlessly. Which causes us to have to have more pens set up so the individual hens with their broods can live separately. We don’t want to have to do that because it means a lot more work on the farm (to feed, water, and clean each extra pen), and it takes up more space in our barn with chicken pens. So we decided we needed to try to figure out how to improve our ability to integrate mama hens with each other.
Since having chickens live with a wire wall in between them has greatly improved our chicken integrating experiences around the farm, we decided we needed a way to have the mama hens share a wire wall for a few days to help integrate them. So we built this little “broody cage” that we set in the Mama Hen Pen (MHP).
In the picture you can see Eve sitting on her eggs in the nest box of the broody cage, while some of our older chicks were living in the MHP.
Those chicks in the picture moved out with the rest of the flock and once Eve and Lacy hatched their chicks we put Lacy in the MHP and left Eve in that broody cage for several days. They interacted with each other through the wire and after a few days Eve was pacing the wire begging to be let out. So we took her out of the cage and put her and a couple of her chicks loose in the MHP with Lacy.
They had a couple of quick fights for who was top hen, but then they quickly settled into life together. We gave Eve the rest of her chicks after the main fights were over. Then we removed the broody cage so they all had more space.
They are now living happily with their broods and no more fighting. It seems like the wire cage helped the transition along, so we are hopeful that we will be able to continue this method in the future with good results.