5 week old chicks trying to get under a new broody

L1sa

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Jan 25, 2017
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My 5 week old chicks have just been abandoned by their mum, but I happen to have another broody who is sitting on some of her own eggs, but tonight they managed to get into the broody coop and under my new broody and it looked like she allowed it. I actually scooped 3 of them out and put them back in the main coop, but one of them stayed with the broody. My question is, should I allow them to nest with the broody or is that fraught with too many risks? I don't want anything to mess with the eggs that are under her, they're only on day 3. Or is there enough room for babies and eggs?
 

L1sa

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Jan 25, 2017
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I've actually taken the last one out from under the new broody, I was too worried that she'd somehow break those precious eggs! And would you believe it... after all the song and dance tonight with mum pecking them and repeatedly chucking them out of the coop. When I went to put the other one back in the main coop, all the others were back snuggled back under mum! The poor chicks I'm sure don't understand what's going on!! They must think their mum had multiple personalities!
 

Shadrach

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Jul 31, 2018
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I've actually taken the last one out from under the new broody, I was too worried that she'd somehow break those precious eggs! And would you believe it... after all the song and dance tonight with mum pecking them and repeatedly chucking them out of the coop. When I went to put the other one back in the main coop, all the others were back snuggled back under mum! The poor chicks I'm sure don't understand what's going on!! They must think their mum had multiple personalities!
Five weeks old is a reasonable age for a hen to stop mothering.
It seems that the natural instinct for the mum once she has introduced the chicks to the rest of the group, if there is one established, is to drive the chicks away from her.
What happens in my experience is the chicks either start a new group, or learn how to find a place in the group hierarchy. Here for example the chicks/pullets/cockerels are the last to be allowed into the coop to roost.
It takes a few months but those that don’t form new groups eventually find their place in the group their mother and father belong to.

If the chicks are feathered now then I wouldn’t allow them to huddle with the broody hen. They need to find their way on their own. If this means you have to adjust the broody coop so the chicks can’t get in then I would do this.
One way to help chicks recently abandoned by their mother to settle in the group coop is to have two or more perches. If you make another perch then place it lower than the perch their mum perches on. I would encourage the chicks to roost on this. You may have to put the chicks on the perches at roosting time initially.
 

L1sa

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Thank you Shadrach, you've put my mind at rest. I knew they were fine to be 'cast out'. They are feathered, for the most part, and they have definitely formed their own little flock. But I'm not happy with them getting in with the new broody, it's a shame because just over a week ago, the broody coop was theirs!! But I guess I'll have to fill in all the gaps that have been dug under to stop them.

Ooo life's hard when you turn 5 weeks old!
 

Shadrach

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Jul 31, 2018
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Thank you Shadrach, you've put my mind at rest. I knew they were fine to be 'cast out'. They are feathered, for the most part, and they have definitely formed their own little flock. But I'm not happy with them getting in with the new broody, it's a shame because just over a week ago, the broody coop was theirs!! But I guess I'll have to fill in all the gaps that have been dug under to stop them.

Ooo life's hard when you turn 5 weeks old!
It took me a long time to get used to mums abandoning their chicks.
The transition form be prepared to die for them, keep them warm and sheltered in pouring rain, feed them everything good to eat that the hen finds and spend every moment trying to protect them, to driving them away and pecking them at every opportunity seemed a very harsh awakening to the realities of life. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve found looking after chickens and it took a long time for me to stop wanting to interfere whenever it happened.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
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Sep 19, 2009
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The hen changing her behavior is essential for protecting her subsequent batch of chicks. The older chicks would complicate incubation and me a mortal threat to chicks. The young birds at 5 weeks of age can generally handle the elements just fine. Predators, especially raptors that target immature chickens, will be a major threat unless someone else in flock helps out. In my free-range groups, the youngsters more often than not begin to associate with their father.

Below is a thread that shows the extreme example of what can happen. Generally the rooster does not become outright broody unless only one hen is in his harem.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/what-to-look-for-in-a-broody-rooster.882368/

The more typical arrange occurs so often I do not record it any longer.


Another option involves groups of juveniles merging.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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it's a shame because just over a week ago, the broody coop was theirs!!
Ha... That's the attraction!
Good reason to get mama and chicks in with the main flock a week or so after hatch.
The certainly seem forlorn when mama kicks them to the curb and they lose their heat and 'protector'.
 

L1sa

Songster
Jan 25, 2017
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South Australia
I've blocked off the broody coop to them now so they'll have to go in the main coop.

This morning when I went to check on them, they were all snuggled up with Shirley, one of my old girls! And then she spent the day in the nest box!! I'm hoping that having babies around the place hasn't made the old dear broody!!
 

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