My broody hen lost interest in her other eggs when the first chick hatched, so we only got one chick. It is now 2 1/2 weeks old, healthy but with it's momma in a separate pen. We have 6 hens and a rooster. Problem is, the separate pen is outside, and the days are getting down to 50's. I picked up 8 chicks last week from a local breeder that are in an inside brooder. When is it best to get the chicks together? Is the one little chick in danger from the cold? It runs around in the 50 degree weather, but the other chicks are still maintaining 80 degrees. It will be getting colder soon. The age of the new chicks seems to be 1 week to about three weeks. The hen seems to be caring for the chick thoroughly, but showing some signs of stress. There were several feathers in their confinement yesterday, which is new. What should I do?
1 chick raising by hen, 8 chicks in brooder - how to get them together before cold weather
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Start by letting the mother hen integrate her chick into the flock. It's best to do this while the chick is still very young (a couple of days old), as the mother is still very protective then. If she's still mothering the chick, now's a good time to let her integrate it into the flock, as it will have the mother hen's protection. Integration will be less of a challenge if the flock has been able to see and visit the hen and chick over the past couple of weeks.
The hen will continue to keep the chick warm, so I wouldn't worry about that. Sometimes hens molt shortly after hatching out chicks, so that may explain the feathers you're seeing. Molting will probably keep her from starting to lay eggs right away, which may mean she'll tend the chick longer than if she resumed laying.
As for the other chicks, check out postings by azygous, who has lots of experience integrating young chicks into a flock.
Edited by song of joy - 10/7/15 at 7:39am