I currently have a broody hen with 9 or 10 eggs under her that I think should hatch sometime around Wednesday, as well as 7 eggs in the incubator that are in lockdown as of yesterday so just waiting for these to hatch. I candled the ones in the incubator before lockdown and I think that 2 had quit but was not sure so left them in. My broody is a Blue English Orpington and in her flock includes 8 other hens. My husband and I removed all but 2 of them because they would not stop getting in with her to lay their eggs which was creating drama and eggs were being broken. I was uncertain if we should move the flock mates but we did because it was getting crazy. I am not sure if I should just leave things like they are with the flock split in the 2 coops that they are in now until the chicks hatch and mama hen seems to be ok with them coming back in or should I try putting 1 or 2 in each night before hatch time til they are all back in? I am worried they will not accept her if I keep them apart? But I do not want any of them to hurt the chicks, and already there are still the 2 hens that stayed in with her anyways. What might be the safest thing for me to do? I told my husband that I think we may have already done too much by splitting them, and we should just let things happen how it happens but he knows I am worried so he keeps making suggestions.
Broody hen split from the flock...
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I'd be inclined to leave things as they are, until the chicks have hatched. You could then put momma and chicks in a crate within the main coop (with all the flock together) for a few days, until they get re-acquianted. As long as you supervise the situation, once you've opened the crate, things hopefully will be ok.
I'm sure other members will have alternative suggestions later in the day.
Good luck, whatever you decide.
The fewer times (in minutes, hours, and days) that mamma and babies see each other the more likely they will accept one another as family members The more time that passes between hatching and introduction the more likely the hen will reject the biddies. Google Imprinting in birds to learn more.. A hen is way more likely to tolerate biddies that are not her own if the new or introduced chicks are younger and smaller than her own. When you try to graph older biddies onto a hen with younger children her instinct is to kill the older chicks to protect her own clutch.
Hens are amazingly non-racist. A White hen MAY mother a nest full of Black chicks but kill every white chick she hatches. Conversely a Black hen MAY dote on her White chicks while murdering every chick of any other color. Hens just don't always do diversity well, sorry.
Edited by chickengeorgeto - 6/4/16 at 11:24pm
Thanks for the suggestions, I think I am going to leave it like it is, and go from there. I feel that's probably best.
The chicks haven't hatched yet, so they are not the ones separated from mama hen, it was the rest of the flock she was in. The chicks will stay with mama for her to raise them. Thanks, I appreciate any and all advise.