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How long will a mother hen care for her chicks?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I have a broody who hatched out chicks four weeks ago.  How long should I expect her to mother them?  When will she eventually kick them out of the nest?

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by stefmech 

I have a broody who hatched out chicks four weeks ago.  How long should I expect her to mother them?  When will she eventually kick them out of the nest?


Yes, she will usually want to see the back of them around 4-6 weeks. So it will likely be anytime now.

Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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post #3 of 8

The timing varys depending on the hen.  And the voices only she can hear in her head.  And it's not so much her kicking them out of the nest but rather her leaving them behind and going back to live with her flock.  It seems to average 4-8 weeks, some even longer.  So have a plan to continue care for the chicks after Mama leaves them.  They probably won't need a heat lamp, but will need a secure pen and chick starter until they're 20 weeks old.

It's not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy!
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It's not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy!
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post #4 of 8

A good mother will go 5-7 weeks.  At that point the little ones should be old enough and feathered enough to be by themselves.  Some hens will start pecking them to get away from her.  Others just take them to bed and try to leave once they get settled.  "Momma", my Orp hen, does the bed and leave.  It normally takes her 3-4 days to get the babies to stay in the nest without her.  Even them the babies want her during the day and she will take care of them for an addition 3-4 days during the day only.  Then done.  I look at that like a weaning process.

There are exceptions.  My Lacy raised her babies but never left them.  She simply joined them as leader of the flock.  At 7 months old, we seperated the grown birds into different houses only because I needed to move their house to a quarenteen pen from some rescues I took in.

Matt

edited for typos


Edited by Matt A NC - 5/21/09 at 7:28pm

Foothills Poultry since 2003

 

- Standards: White Rocks and SQ Black Cochins
- Bantams: BCLB/CLB Dutch, Calico Pet Project, and lots of Pets

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Foothills Poultry since 2003

 

- Standards: White Rocks and SQ Black Cochins
- Bantams: BCLB/CLB Dutch, Calico Pet Project, and lots of Pets

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post #5 of 8

6-7 weeks?  Whew!  That's good to know.  I had 3 chicks that I put under a hen (not even a hen that was laying, mind you--just an antisocial hen that kept to herself) and she was an instant and wonderful mother.  Then a few weeks later, I got 6 more chicks.  What a conundrum!  But I separated her from her 3 at night and she fluffed up and kept the 6 warm.  Daytimes she mothered the 3 around, and after 3 or 4 days, I decided they were really old enough to do without her, so I left her full-time with the 6 babies.  Now I'm feeling much better about it, because the older ones are 7 weeks old, fully feathered.  My hen (Henny Penny) is mothering the new ones just fine, but I think she'd take all nine on forever if left to herself.

Is it safe to allow the older three in with the 10-day-old chicks?

post #6 of 8

I had a hen go broody a couple years ago. This was supposed to be a breed that didn't go broody. In any case there was no rooster and I kept taking the eggs. She defiantly kept sitting on an empty nest. Finally I found a few fertilized eggs she hatched. She was the happiest hen around. She never "weaned" them though and they kept crawling under her at night. She unexpectedly died a few months after they were hatched. Here is a photo of this poor mama.

post #7 of 8

Glad I found this! Just had a chicken hatch 3 eggs over three days and was worried about whether or not she will take care of them. Good to know thank you all so much for the information! This is my first time with chickens:)

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by wirig View Post

I had a hen go broody a couple years ago. This was supposed to be a breed that didn't go broody. In any case there was no rooster and I kept taking the eggs. She defiantly kept sitting on an empty nest. Finally I found a few fertilized eggs she hatched. She was the happiest hen around. She never "weaned" them though and they kept crawling under her at night. She unexpectedly died a few months after they were hatched. Here is a photo of this poor mama.

 

]

That's pretty funny. I'm sorry you lost her.
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