2 broodies hatched out chicks and are fighting - now what???

bearrocksbirds

In the Brooder
5 Years
Hi All!

We got lucky this spring and had 2 hens go broody. I tried to set them up in a little coop with 2 separate nesting boxes, but 1 hen wouldn't have it. So she ended up in a separate broody area in the main coop. Now they've both hatched out their eggs about a week apart - 1 with 5 chicks, the other with 7 chicks. But when I put them together in a run area where I was hoping to let them all grow a bit before putting them in with the flock, the 2 mama hens go crazy and fight like roosters!

So we've built another little coop and will divide the run, but for how long???

We got a broody last year and she came with a chick. I put them in with the flock right away, and she set the boundaries with the other chickens, keeping the chick safe and she and the chick fit right into the flock. So I was just assuming that these hens would do the same with their chicks. But now seeing them fight each other, I don't know how to proceed. I was thinking that in 3 weeks or so I put them all in together and let the mamas fend for the chicks.

My thinking is that the benefit of having mamas raise the chicks is both that they're out of the house doing their own thing without my help and also that they can deal with the integration with the flock. Now I'm wondering if they will be able to do that. They can't even live with each other let alone the rest of the flock.

Please share your experience and advice with me.

Thanks!

Theresa
 

Kev

Crowing
12 Years
Jan 13, 2008
6,517
726
361
Sun City, California
Yeah, that is both hens being protective and not enough space to get away from each other- not good.

One option is, if one hen will accept both broods of chicks, remove the other hen and let that one raise all.
 

Kev

Crowing
12 Years
Jan 13, 2008
6,517
726
361
Sun City, California
If room is limited and the other accepts the chicks readily, I think it would be the kindest thing to do overall.

Personally(with limited room that is) I would have transferred one brood to the other immediately once the second brood has hatched. Which way depends- if the first hen does not accept the younger chicks I would have given all of the older ones to the newer mother and she will regard them as hers as she has yet 'known' her babies. Some hens will accept new chicks after a few days but normally they don't, espcially if the chick looks quite different- a white chick has low chance of being accepted into a brood of black chicks for example. However, some hens truly know their babies and will reject even a new black chick from their brood of black chicks. Overall it very much depends on the hen and also much easier to integrate older chicks to a mother still on her nest with her newly hatched chicks.

With two mothers inside limited room, it can turn into a carousel of bad sorts if both hens knew their own babies(meaning they reject chicks they consider not theirs) with the mother hens getting tense with each other, especially if the winner likes to make life a little hard on the other hen... and then the chicks will have to be constantly on the alert, avoiding the other hen and possibly the other chicks if they establish dominance early on.

With a free range flock, this is not much of an issue as they have plenty room to stay away from each other- you can keep the two mothers divided until they are let out into this situation, no problem. But if they are released into a coop and run with limited room, see the potential carousel above....

As for being cruel by removing chicks from one hen- she will get over it within a few days if chicks are out of her sight... and again if there is limited room, I would rather do this than watch the chicks go round and around for weeks.
 

BDutch

Natural
6 Years
5 Years
May 19, 2015
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Sorry to hear about the distress. I have been lucky with 3 hens and 8 chicks that get along very well since they all have chicks. (Only had problems when hatching )

If its possible I would make a seperate coop and divide the run with a removable wire- fence. This way both hens with their own chicks, can see each other. Open the fence between the 2 groups every day for as long as they get along or you have to leave. Probably the fighting will stop in a few days if there is enough room. If they have stopped fighting you can remove the fence after several days.
 

bearrocksbirds

In the Brooder
5 Years
Thank you so much for all the info!

We do free range our flock, but the enclosed run is where I was putting them to let the chicks grow for a couple of weeks.

We have a big coop - a 10 x 12 shed. We also have 2 "baby" coops (4 x 5 ft) inside the enclosed run, which is apx 30 x 30 ft. with a top.

The chicks are so small now that even the cats and dog would catch them if they wander through the fencing, so I thought 2 - 3 weeks before I release them into the larger paddock which is apx 1/2 acre. The big chickens fly out of the paddock and roam through the woods each day, so they're truly free range. We have 2 acres and another 1 acre next door that's vacant, so they have plenty of room.

Given our situation, I'd really like to have the hens raise their own chicks. My husband has just built the second baby coop, so number 2 broody hen with chicks will go into that tonight and have half the run - apx 15 x 15. Does that sound reasonable?

And does 2-3 weeks until they join the flock sound right? The first batch hatched on the 14th. The second batch on the 21st. Should I introduce both batches together or one at a time?

Thanks again!
 

Kev

Crowing
12 Years
Jan 13, 2008
6,517
726
361
Sun City, California
Yeah it is so much easier to have the hens raise the chicks in that situation, for sure.

The chick pens are very reasonable. It will hold the mother and chicks just fine even for as long as 2-3 months.

2-3 weelks before letting range is fine.

Around here, from fall until spring any chicks under 4 months cannot be safely let outside due to the coopers and some kind of hawk I always forget the name of are just murder on the chicks that age and younger. They simply cannot resist these and several times they will swoop down even with me just being 10 feet away. Over the summer they will be fine freeranging from day one if wanted- they're all gone up north.
 

BDutch

Natural
6 Years
5 Years
May 19, 2015
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I thought my chicks were quite safe in the run because it is covered all over with a strong net and there's wire in the ground against foxes e.g. So it is safe for hawks and some other predators.

This morning however I missed one chick and another one I found death in the coop. I have no idea what happened. But this is not the best platform to ask because in the Netherlands there are different predators as in the States. Just letting you know to be care-full.
 

bearrocksbirds

In the Brooder
5 Years
Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your chicks! I hope the rest are safe and growing well! (my computer's been down, so I just saw this)

Mine are all still in the protected run area, but I'll let the bigger ones (4 1/2 weeks) out with their mama tomorrow while I'm around to check up on them. The two mamas never did settle in. One hen kept breaking into the other's section and attacking her, so we added fencing all the way up. Sigh. So much for all the chicks growing up together.
 

BDutch

Natural
6 Years
5 Years
May 19, 2015
2,884
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The rat didnt make more casualties. :)
One chick had a cold for a long time and grew slowly into a rooster . Happely iI found a nice place for him and 2 brothers. In a barn with about 30 pullets (hybrids) where they can crow as much as they like.

The pullets all stayed with their mothers and are getting interested in the laying off eggs. Nice to see them grow from just hatched to pullet.
I have a beautifull group of 6 dutch bantams now, thx.

Are you're chickens all together now?
 
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