I have a rooster and 10 hens (mostly free range) that are about a year old and we just added 18 day old chicks to the coop a week ago. We started them in a brooder box but a few escaped and we couldn't figure out how so we just allowed all the chicks to mingle with the grown hens only in the coop we blocked the door so the grown hens can fly out but there is no way for the chicks to escape. My rooster, whom I wasn't over fond of, has taken them in as his own and protects them from every one and everything. Is this normal? None of my hens are particularly aggressive and I haven't seen them pick on the chicks. Should I expect as the chicks grow that the hens will start to pick on them to establish pecking order or dare I let my guard down since rooster is protecting them? I have one hen that will sit with the chicks but its mostly the rooster looking after them. I had no idea a rooster would take on this role and I'm pleasantly surprise! Should I fence the chicks off to protect them just in case or take a chance and hope everyone continues happily mingling? Does anyone have experience with this kind of situation?
Rooster protecting new chicks will it last?
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Some roosters are more maternal than hens. I find it adorable. Chicks that are raised up, in contact with the adult flock are largely ignored by the hens. It won't be till they are about 10 weeks old that the adults start to pay them any mind, and by that time the little ones will know to keep out of their space.
You can let them have access to the rest of the coop/run, but make sure that they can get back into their brooder if they need to. The idea is to turn the grow out coop or brooder into a chick 'panic room'. The chicks can come and go, but the adults can't get into the little one's space. http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1069595/introducing-chicks-to-adults