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When will this chick stop thinking I'm her mom?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I wrote a few weeks ago about getting a roughly week old rescue chick and got some good advice about trying to get another mom chicken to take her (thanks to all!).


We found her abandoned and roosters were trying to peck her to death. So we brought her to our very small cottage with three hunting cats. We could not get any other mama hen to take her and lets just say the last few weeks have been an adventure for us all.


The official baby chick story seems to be that they only imprint up to 72 hours. She had real but tiny wing feathers when we got her on May 13th and it said here that meant she was about a week old but she imprinted on me something fierce anyway. When I take a shower she has to sit on the tub or she has a complete fit. She's spends too much time riding on my shoulder so I can get basic stuff done.


I'm spending my days cleaning up chicken poop, arguing with amazon about why they never shipped my chicken supplies and planting little sprout gardens for her. She (I hope) is fun and there have been lots of rewarding cute moments but there are tons of things I need to get done in a chicken free state! Since I am her "mom" she has to go shopping etc. with me and has a complete melt down in her car carrier while I'm in the store. I feel like a crazy person toting a chick with me! I don't want to cause her the stress of having her mom disappear on her. 


The cats have been banished to the other room and they are very sad.


We are renters. Our current landlord doesn't care if we have a chick in the house but I'm imagining when we try to move back to the states and I mention three cats and a chicken, we won't find a place to live! I need a plan but when I read the pet chicken forums there doesn't seem to be a path out of being a chicken mom.


I did find a little organic farm that will take her and said that even if she is a rooster they will keep him for breeding and not for meat, however, I have questions the farmer just didn't seem to think mattered.


Will the other chickens in his flock accept her or try to peck her to death?  Is there a way to stop that?


She's been alone with a human nearly her entire life. Will she adjust and learn the way of the chicken?


Should I wait until she's six weeks old to try to send her to the farm or do it now at roughly 4 weeks?


Will she become despondent without me and fail to thrive?


Will she know when she doesn't need a mom anymore and just naturally pull away?


She's a good peck and scratcher but I cannot get her to take a dust bath in the sand I brought her, any tips?


I didn't have chicken feed at first, I fed her baby food because she wouldn't eat any of the grains I ground up for her. She's really a carnivore! I've been adding more chicken starter to her baby food each day trying to get her to the point where she will be off the baby food entirely. Once I've got her eating dry chicken starter, - a few more days maybe, could she then be ready for a farm?


I am out of my depth here and could really use some help! Thanks in advance. week 1?


 week 4?

post #2 of 3

The good news is she will finally reach the point where she will naturally pull away from you and quit being so needy. But she may always consider you her "flock" as long as she's with you.


You need to decide what you want to do. She will adjust to a flock of real chickens, but you should hang onto her until she reaches full size at around four months.


Talk to the farmer about rigging up a special pen for her so she's protected from attack during the "get-acquainted" period. The best thing will be for someone to supervise daily exercises in mingling with the flock so she doesn't get thrashed while she learns the pecking order. Letting her go back to the safe pen after about an hour of this each day, will preserve her self confidence and give her relief.


Eventually, after about a month, she will be accepted into the flock, and then she we'll probably start moving up the pecking order, but she will no doubt be more content than if you dragged her around with you.


Read my article on integrating a hen into an existing flock. It will give you an idea of what to expect. Scroll down to the blue inks below this post and select the third one.

Edited by azygous - 6/2/16 at 7:28am
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for this. Also I forgot to mention I did read the how to section before I posted.

I just read your story and wow you are amazing! You are obviously a great caregiver. I wish I could bring her to you. 


It's a relief to hear this chicken mom job is not a lifer! I would like to have chickens one day once we have home of our own. I do have a little area we are going to try to make her an outdoor coop in but I feel bad as she will be all alone in there. I'll probably wait until she signals she can handle my absence.


I think it's going to be a pretty big ask to get a local farmer to do all that - they are hardworking people struggling to scratch a living out of the volcanic rock that is our tropical island and the cultural differences are daunting as pets are not treated well here and chickens rank below that but at least I have some ideas of what I can do to help facilitate a move plus I live near enough I could go over there for the first few weeks if they agreed to that.


Do you have any idea how to get her to take a dust bath? I've put beach sand in both a plate and a deeper container and tried putting her in it, rubbing my own hand in the sand to show her, and gently rubbing her with the sand but she just pecks the sand and jumps out. Is she maybe just too young? She doesn't smell and it's been nearly a month - she's constantly at her feathers - I don't see any bugs on her I think she's just preening and maybe a itchy with the new feathers coming in? 

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