We have a Blue Maran hen, Skye, who has hatched at least 4 broods for us. She's a wonderful mommy and loves taking care of chicks. On August 21st, she hatched four ducklings from our ducks (but, at the time, only one drake--a Black and White Swedish). She's been taking excellent care of them, but has gone way beyond what we ever thought possible. We read that she would probably leave them when they showed an interest in water; she didn't. We read that she would probably leave them when they started swimming; she didn't. We read that she would probably leave them when they got bigger than she is; she didn't. Now, they have all but joined the bigger ducks in the flock, but Skye still has shown absolutely no interest in rejoing the chickens. Our chickens--the hens--when they get ready to leave the chicks--just do--and off they trot to rejoin the older hens. All our ducks and chickens free range and go in coops at night.
So, a couple days ago, I put her over the fence in the pasture with the chickens. She had a couple of challenges and little battles with at least two other hens. The hens all left for greener pastures, so to speak, and Skye steadily paced back and forth in front of the gate clucking at her ducklings. The ducklings, were with the older ducks, but they kept craning their necks to thier chicken mom and waddled back and forth to see what she was doing. I relented and let her back. Now, the past couple days--she is still always around the ducks--and her ducklings, but they really don't need her anymore. As you can imagine, at 8 weeks old, these ducks are already much bigger than their chicken mom is. Sometimes now she lets them go farther away--and she may be in the front yard and they in the back yard with the ducks, but she stays around. You'll look out the window and there will be a bunch of ducks around the feed bowl and Skye IN the feed bowl pecking away. Or--all the "babies" will be swimming in the pool (they have not gone down to the pond) and there's Skye standing right beside the pool.
Last night, when we put the ducks into their coop--all the babies went right in there with them and they are evidently, now part of the rest of the flock. As the youngest, they are sometimes on the outskirts, but they are always with the ducks. Previously, Skye and the ducklings were in the "nursery coop" we keep in the back yard, but the ducklings have really outgrown it and by this time, normally, Skye would have gone back to the barn. But, when we went to find her--and maybe hand carry her out to the barn--there she was--right in the coop with 14 ducks! She had settled right down in a nest box and looked as happy as you please. In the morning, out she came with 14 ducks, had a bite to eat and then went off to the front yard--while the ducklings stayed with the rest. Again, today, she has been around them all day---they don't need her--and she has shown no interest in going back to the barn and rejoining the chickens.
My question is: do we have to make her go back with the chickens? If she has decided she doesn't want to live with them anymore and the ducks--including our two drakes--tolerate her living with them and sharing their coop---is there any harm in her being with them? I am so torn between not wanting her to be by herself all day and just letting nature take its course. We live in Vermont, so it's getting colder and time before long when the chickens will choose to NOT come out of the barn all day----and, in the winter, the ducks ALWAYS come outside. So--would this be a problem?