Hen and Hatch-a-Longs Join the Flock

Hen Brings Her Two Week old Chicks To the Outdoor Run to Join the Flock

Having a hen raise chicks is a natural and effective way to ensure they receive the care and nurturing they need to thrive. Not to mention, it’s so much easier to have a hen raise chicks. Brooder chicks require more work, which is time-consuming and can be challenging at times.
Hens are maternal animals and have a strong instinct to care for their offspring. They know how to keep the chicks warm, protect them from danger, and teach them how to find food and water.
These two little fuzzy butts are hatch-a-longs, meaning I introduced day-old chicks to my broody Silkie on day 21 of her dedicated broody cycle. She has been kept in the coop with her babies since day one and has done an incredible job keeping them safe from the rest of the flock. On week two she brought them out of the coop to join the flock in the outdoor run. As you can see in this short video, total harmony.

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How to Introduce Chicks to a Broody Hen

Putting chicks under a broody hen is a natural way to raise baby chicks. These chicks are called hatch-a-longs. There are a few steps to follow for this to be successful. But keep in mind, there’s no guarantee your hen will accept the chicks, so keep a watchful eye after the introduction.

How To Introduce Hatch-a-Longs to Broody Hen

Make sure your hen is truly broody, which means she is sitting on eggs (or fake eggs) and exhibiting signs of wanting to hatch them. Signs of broodiness include sitting on the nest for long periods of time, puffing up her feathers, and spreading herself over the eggs giving her a flattened appearance. She may be pulling out her feathers for the nest. Important: Your hen needs to be dedicated to her eggs for at least 2 weeks.
Prepare a safe and clean environment: Choose a clean and dry area within your coop or a separate brooding area that is safe from predators, drafts, and dampness. Provide bedding such as pine shavings for the hen and chicks to nest in. A completely enclosed area is best.

The enclosure I use for my broody hen & hatch-a-longs

Purchase day-old chicks preferably, but up to 3 days old is usually acceptable. Place the chicks in a temperature-controlled brooder with access to food & water until nightfall.
Late at night is best to place chicks under your hen. Broody hens are more receptive to accepting new chicks at night when they are more relaxed and in that weird hypnotic state that occurs after dark. Your chick feed and drinker should be in place at this time. Make sure both are close by and easily accessed by the chicks. Your hen can eat the chick starter, it will be good for her since she probably hasn’t been eating enough while broody.
Tuck the chicks under the broody hen’s wing. If possible, do this in complete darkness to minimize disruption. Avoid disturbing the broody hen too much during this process.
Observe the broody hen and chicks closely to ensure that the hen is accepting the chicks and keeping them warm. The hen’s body heat is crucial for the chicks’ survival, especially during the first few days of their lives.
Continue to provide a safe and clean environment for the broody hen and chicks, free from drafts, predators, and dampness. Regularly clean the bedding and ensure that the chicks have enough space to move around and grow.

Silkie hen & her hatch-a-long

In The Perfect Scenario, What to Expect

By following these steps and providing proper care, the broody hen should take care of the chicks, keeping them warm, teaching them to eat and drink, and providing them with maternal care.
After a Few Days, the hen can be allowed to take her chicks out with the other hens and she will protect them but watch carefully to make sure.
By Week Five or Six, the hen will begin distancing herself from the chicks. Make sure to have multiple feeders & drinkers, as the new birds will surely have to find their place in the pecking order. If there’s going to be drama (expect it) it will be where the food is.
Lastly, have fun, and don’t forget to enjoy the experience.

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My Pet Chicken, a Review

Customer Service & Shipment of Baby Chicks
How My Pet Chicken Handled a Problem Shipment

My Pet Chicken is a hatchery that ships sexed Silkie Bantams and Millie Fleurs, my favorites. They also are a hatchery that ships only a few birds, they deserve points for that. My Pet Chicken is high on my list of choices for ornamental chicks, and I’ve never had a problem with a baby chick shipment, until now.

My order of six chicks arrived yesterday, nicely packed with plenty of straw-like bedding in a nice sturdy box with ample ventilation. They were shipped on Monday and they arrived Tuesday at 2 pm, exactly what I expected.
Unfortunately, they were not handled with care either by the airlines or USPS, one Silkie was dead, and one Silkie and a Mille Fleur had broken legs. I was devastated. I’ve mail-ordered chicks many times over the last fifteen years with at least a 99% success rate. I wasn’t expecting to have any problems of this magnitude.
Unfortunately, I had to cull the injured chicks, and I must say, even though I’ve had my share of unpleasant tasks over the years having chickens… it was still traumatizing. It’s done, I’m over it, and focusing on my three healthy fuzzy butt chicks.
How Did My Pet Chicken Handle the Situation?
I called My Pet Chicken informing them of the poor arrival of my chicks. I didn’t know what I was expecting… after all, it wasn’t their fault this happened. Nevertheless, maybe I just needed to vent. So glad I called, customer service was beyond nice, and genuinely compassionate, and to my surprise, offered to send me replacement chicks or a refund for the 3 chicks lost. If that’s not customer satisfaction I don’t know what is. My Pet Chicken gets an A+ from me. 🙂

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How to Buy Healthy Chicks from a Feed Store

Be an Informed Buyer, Ask Questions, Recognize Signs of Poor Health

It’s Spring and you might have buying baby chicks on your mind. This is when the feed stores have all those cute fuzzy butts available, and they certainly are hard to resist. Nothing wrong with being an impulse buyer in my book, but at least be an informed one!
There are things to look for, and of course, you want to bring home healthy chicks. Once you leave the store, there’s no turning back, whatever chick problems you have, you’re stuck with, sorry, no returns.
Ask Questions
It’s good practice to ask the store manager when they received the chicks. Most likely the chicks were in transport before their arrival. During that time, chicks can become dehydrated, stressed, and kept too cold or hot, all compromising a chick’s survival. Most chicks in poor health will die within the first two days of their life. You’ll want to avoid buying chicks until they settle in at least 3-4 days after transport.
Marek’s disease is extremely contagious among chickens and usually fatal, so always make sure the chicks you buy are vaccinated at the hatchery.

Choosing Healthy Chicks

You’ll want to see active chicks, some resting, others eating & drinking, and some under a heat source. This is normal behavior. Avoid chicks that are all huddled together, or lethargic.
Eyes should be clear, and you don’t want to see any signs of fecal impaction, better known as pasty butts, Learn More.
The beak, top, and bottom should be even, there shouldn’t be an overbite, or cross-over which may interfere with proper eating.
Legs should appear sturdy and straight.
Chicks will be fuzzy all over, avoid those with sparse or missing fluff.
Have your brooder in place and ready to go before you bring home your baby chicks, it’s important to make their once again transition easy as possible. The brooder box should be the right temperature with bedding, a heat source, and food/water in place.

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Resource Library for Chicken Keepers

Content: Baby Chicks, Charts & Diagrams, Flock Management, Seasonal Concerns, Broodies, Chicken Coops, Drinkers & Feeders, Feeding & Nutrition, Predators, Choosing a Breed, Eggs, Mail order Chicks, Hatcheries & Supplies, Health & Wellness.

Baby Chicks

Raising Baby Chicks

The First 7 Weeks
A comprehensive guide to preparing for and managing baby chicks with a step-by-step approach.
Read Article by TBN Ranch

How to Buy Chicks from a Feed Store TBN Ranch
Brooder to Coop, When? TBN Ranch
How to Care for Your Mail Order Chicks TBN Ranch
Introducing Hatch-a-longs to the flock TBN Ranch
About the Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder TBN Ranch
Choosing a Radiant Heat Chick Brooder TBN Ranch

Fecal Impaction or Pasting up

Fecal impaction is a common issue among young chicks and can be fatal if ignored. Learn the signs and how to avoid this problem.
Read Article by TBN Ranch

Traditional Heat Lamps, and the Radiant Heat Alternative TBN Ranch
What is that black spot or string on my baby chick’s rear end? TBN Ranch
When To Move Baby Chicks From The Brooder To Coop TBN Ranch
Hatcheries and Supplies Index TBN Ranch
Preparing for Baby Chicks TBN Ranch
A Collection of Caring for Baby Chicks Articles from Experts TBN Ranch

Managing the Brooder Temperature

This guide aims to assist you in ensuring their comfort by providing insights into their behavior, whether you choose to use a heat lamp or the modern radiant heat alternative.
Read Article by TBN Ranch

Brooder For Your Chicks

A chick brooder is a specialized enclosure or container created to offer a cozy and secure setting for recently hatched chicks. Here are the many types to choose from. 
Read Article by TBN Ranch

Charts, Diagrams, Learning

Chicken Anatomy, External, Internal, and Skeletal
Chicken Anatomy, Full Color
Chicken Egg Color Chart
Chicken Feather Variations & Markings
Development of a Chick
Checklist for Chicken Coop
Interesting Facts About Combs & Wattles + Distinctive Types
How A Chicken Digests Food TBN Ranch

Managing the Flock

Read Article TBN Ranch

Backyard Chickens, Know What You’re Getting into TBN Ranch
Backyard Chickens, Yes or No? Is it for You? TBN Ranch
Can Chickens Fly? TBN Ranch
How Long Does a Chicken Live? TBN Ranch
How Much Space Chickens Need TBN Ranch

Understanding The Pecking Order

Often the stronger or larger birds rank highest in the social order. This article will help you learn how to minimize drama when bullying becomes excessive.
Read Article by TBN Ranch

All About Molting TBN Ranch
Adding Chickens to an Existing Flock TBN Ranch
My Successful Introduction of a New Pullet TBN Ranch
The Chicken’s Senses TBN Ranch
The Deep Litter Method in the Coop Explained TBN Ranch
10 Essential Tips for Healthy Chickens TBN Ranch
How Do Feathers Keep Chickens Warm? TBN Ranch

Read Article TBN Ranch

Getting Chickens to Roost in the Right Place TBN Ranch
The Best Way to Catch a Chicken TBN Ranch
Raising Chickens, Pros & Cons TBN Ranch
Sand or Pine Shavings in the Coop? TBN Ranch
About Combs & Wattles TBN Ranch
Fun Facts About Chickens TBN Ranch
What Is a Proper Roost for Chickens? TBN Ranch
Chicken Wire or Hardware Cloth? TBN Ranch

Read Article TBN Ranch

The Role of a Rooster

The primary role of a rooster in a flock of chickens is to fertilize the eggs laid by the hens. Aside from fertilizing eggs, roosters also play a protective role in the flock.
Continue Reading by TBN Ranch

Seasonal Chicken Keeping

Keeping Chickens in Extreme Heat

 Is your chicken yard and coop adequately designed to support the overall welfare of your flock during the summer season? It is crucial to make necessary preparations for extreme heat to prevent your birds from experiencing heat exhaustion and related issues.
Read Article by TBN Ranch

Keeping Chickens in Winter TBN Ranch
Winter Chicken Keeping in Phoenix TBN Ranch


Keeping Hens with Eggs or Chicks safe Among the Flock TBN Ranch
Why a Hen Leaves the Nest After Laying an Egg TBN Ranch
How to Introduce Chicks to a Broody Hen TBN Ranch

Chicken Coops, Drinkers, Feeders, & More

Choosing A Chicken Coop
Over 500 Coops to View

Are you interested in a traditional design, something unique and unconventional, a do-it-yourself project, or maybe a more elaborate setup?
View Now by TBN Ranch

Drinkers / Waterers

So many to choose from, but which one best fits your flock’s needs? Auto-fill, nipple, standard fill, or DIY, view them all in one convenient place HERE by TBN Ranch

Less Waste, No Mess Chicken Feeders TBN Ranch
Coop Building Plans TBN Ranch

Nest Box & Bedding Gallery
More than 100 to View!

Nest boxes play a vital role in supporting both chickens and their caretakers, offering a range of benefits. Discover numerous suggestions to assist you in selecting perfect nest boxes.
View Now by TBN Ranch

Creative Roost Ideas

There are so many different types of roosts, which one is best for your coop?  Your birds need something suitable to roost on at night. Be creative! Here are over 50 types to inspire you.
View Now by TBN Ranch

Feeding & Nutrition

Choosing the Right Feed For Chicks & Chickens, What The Labels Mean TBN Ranch
Feeding Hemp Seed TBN Ranch
Toxic Food List for Chickens TBN Ranch
Understanding Chick Starter & Grower Feed TBN Ranch
About Grit and Chicks & Chickens TBN Ranch
Five Healthy Supplements for Your Chickens TBN Ranch
Chicken Feeding Chart TBN Ranch
What Not to Feed Chickens TBN Ranch
How A Chicken Digests Food TBN Ranch

Outdoor Gardening Safety

There are several common outdoor plants that are generally considered toxic to chickens, which makes it important for poultry owners to be aware of these potential hazards.
Read Article TBN Ranch


Predators and the Evidence of Their Attacks

Coyote, Fox, Raccoon, Opossum, Hawk, and Owl.
Read Article by TBN Ranch

Common Predators to Chickens in Phoenix, AZ TBN Ranch
Keeping Chickens Safe From Fox TBN Ranch

Choosing a Breed

Choosing a Breed

There exists a wide array of exquisite chicken breeds, each presenting its own unique qualities. We will delve into the particulars, including temperament, egg size, egg color, egg production, and primary use.
Breed Profiles by TBN Ranch

All About Heritage Chickens TBN Ranch
Choosing a Good Laying Hen TBN Ranch
Chickens That are Known to be Flighty TBN Ranch
A Few Fancy Crested Chicken Breeds & Where to Get Them TBN Ranch

Managing Eggs

When to Expect the First Egg

If you buy your birds as chicks, you can expect to feed and care for them for 22 to 24 weeks before they reach their point of lay. If you are uncertain about the age of your pullets, this article explains how to accurately determine their point of lay.
Read Article by TBN Ranch

Brittle Eggs TBN Ranch
Oyster Shells vs Egg Shells, Which Is Better? TBN Ranch
Cleaning Farm Eggs TBN Ranch
Do Eggs Need Refrigeration? TBN Ranch
Why Homegrown Eggs Are Better TBN Ranch
Why Your Hens Aren’t Laying Eggs, Solution TBN Ranch
How Light Effects Egg Production TBN Ranch
Shelf Eggs Come Up a Little Short on Nutritional Value TBN Ranch
Egg Labels and What They All Mean TBN Ranch
Chickens That Will Give You a Variety of Colorful Eggs TBN Ranch
5 Chickens That Lay Colored Eggs TBN Ranch

How Long Are Eggs Good For?

The quality and safety of eggs can differ due to various factors, such as storage methods and whether they are raw or cooked. Nevertheless, I can provide you with fundamental safety guidelines.
Read Article by TBN Ranch

Mail-Order Chicks, Hatcheries & Supplies

Hatcheries & Retailers

Explore my collection of top-notch hatcheries and retailers. I’ve have personally purchased chicks from these hatcheries and have been consistently satisfied.
Read Article by TBN Ranch

Health & Wellness

Read Article TBN Ranch

About Worming Chickens TBN Ranch
Backyard Biosecurity TBN Ranch
Loss of Baby Chicks TBN Ranch
Salmonella TBN Ranch
Salmonella Safety Practices for Chicken Keepers TBN Ranch
Perosis Disease in Chickens / Poor Nutrition TBN Ranch


Sexing Chicks TBN Ranch
Clipping Chicken Nails TBN Ranch

Didn’t Find What You Are Looking For?

Informative Articles
By Content Contributors

A collection of articles from across the web by
content contributors who share their experience and expertise on various topics. Read Articles

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Unexplained Loss of Baby Chicks, Explained

One Common Cause of Death, and Why

At one time or another, you’ll inevitably lose one or more of your new baby chicks. Mail-order chicks or chicks kept in stressful conditions are most at risk. We usually blame it on one thing or another, but the most common reason is often overlooked… and can be avoided.
Once dehydration is ruled out, and the chick showed no other signs of trouble before it died, the problem is often caused by pasting up, which is just a fancy name for a poopy bum.
This is simply a condition where the baby chick’s poop gets stuck on the downy feathers outside their vent and prevents them from pooping. It’s often a fatal condition, so it’s very important to check all the chickie bums for at least the first two weeks of life.
Tending to Pasting Up
If there’s fecal matter stuck to the chick’s vent, use a warm wet cloth and soak it off. Sometimes if a chick has a chronic problem with pasting up it’s better to pull off the poop when it’s dry. This way it takes all the downy feathers with it, preventing another impaction.

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Preparing for Baby Chicks

A Detailed Check List of Everything You’ll Need

Before you bring home your baby chicks prepare an area to keep them. Maybe a garage, shed, or any place where the chicks are protected from inclement weather or drafts.
The Basics
A Brooder
This is simply a container worthy of containing the chicks for the first 4-6 weeks. The sides should be about 12 to 15 inches high, the taller the brooder is, the less likely you’re going to have a problem with chicks escaping when they become more active. Brooder Ideas
This is important to monitor the temperature in the brooder. Any outdoor type that is easy to read is sufficient.
Brooder Lamp (and something dependable to hang it from)
The hanging type will allow you better control of temperature. You’ll want the ease of lowering or raising the lamp for more or less heat. Most feed stores carry both brooder lamps and bulbs. Although the bulb color of choice by chicken keepers is a controversial one, I prefer and recommend the RED bulb.

*Today it is better advised to use Radiant Heat.

Feeder & Drinker
Choose both that are made for chicks, they are designed not only for their convenience but safety too.
Shavings are usually the bedding of choice.
Most commonly called Chick Starter feed. They’re going to be on this food for the next 5-7 months or their point of lay, so don’t be afraid to buy a 50lb bag. It won’t be the last bag you buy!

The Extras to Make Caring for Your Chicks Easier…

Paper Towels
Many chicken keepers like to use paper towels for the bottom of the brooder for the first week or two.  I don’t, and all is fine… your choice.
Medium Trash Can (2)
A convenient way to make cleaning less of a chore. Keep it handy by the brooder.
It’s nice to keep your feed in one too, bagged feed can be a big mess to clean up if it falls over.
To dump out the drinker waste, rather than refilling the whole waterer ten times a day.
An extra small brooder box in case you have to isolate or doctor a chick.

It’s a Little Work but There’s a Reward

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