Adding 3-day-old chicks to a 2-week-old batch?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by MyLittleRedCoop, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I ordered chicks back in early June for the fall. I have 8 arriving in just over a week.

    I will save you from the series of ridiculous events that have preceded the need for my post, but the result is 2 black copper marans and 3 blue orpington chicks that hatched under my broody-butt Australorp last Thursday.

    I've heard of people tucking a few extra chicks under a broody mama at night. I'm wondering two things:

    1.) Is 2 weeks is too great a difference in age to attempt it? The chicks arriving will be partridge plymouth rocks, light brahmas, partridge cochins, a dominique and a speckled sussex.

    2.) Is potentially 13 chicks too many for her to take care of? This is assuming all 8 survive the shipping.

    I was thinking I might give the newbies a day to start eating, and rehydrate, and then starting the following night, tuck a couple of them under her each night, after dark. I can put a heat lamp in the brooder area with her if needed. Thoughts?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Mama hens usually won't accept anything but very young chicks. But you can try it. I had a broody "adopt" a group of 3 week old chicks once. Like so many things chickedn, you won't know unless you try.

    There is no need for a heat lamp with a mama hen, even in winter. The mama provides all the heat the chicks need.
     
  3. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Flockwatcher!

    I'll report back how it goes!
     
  4. zowieyellowflame

    zowieyellowflame Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My experience is that I have success with it if the chicks accept the mama and they will if they are tiny and don't know any better. Generally if they are very young she will take them when she has eggs or golf balls. (we frequently trick a broody!) But she won't take meat birds and I doubt she will take them when she is doing training for older birds. They are at different stages of learning.
     
  5. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Zowie!
    Yeah, I was a little worried about the age difference... I kind of hoped it would be close enough that if I got them up and going, they'd just toodle along with the others. I wouldn't even consider 2-3 day olds with say, 4-5 weeks. But I was hoping 2 weeks would be close enough...?

    I'll be sure to have another separate brooder area set up as back-up...
     
  6. hdmax

    hdmax Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It isn't to much age difference if you use a brooder. But a broody hen is a different story. I received my Cornish Cross cockerels one week, then the next week I received my order of future laying hens, (These were 3 days younger, but took 4 days to get.) and when about half my Red Star chicks were DOA, I received replacements the following week, then added another batch one week later, and added turkeys a few days later. (All day old upon arrival) For the most part they all got along fine. There were about 3 weeks age difference from the Cornish X's to the turkeys. The turkeys are domineering now, and dominate over the chickens all the time. I sometimes see one of the turkeys chase a chicken for 2 or 3 minutes before giving up on the chase. And when one does catch a chicken, it will push its head to the ground and hold it down for several seconds.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  7. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just reporting back...

    My chicks are now 10 & 12 weeks old. Broody butt Mama is back with the rest of the flock and laying eggs regularly. And all 13 chicks are alive, healthy and happy. Mama was fantastic and happily took all 8 extra chicks under her wing, along with the 5 she hatched.

    When I got the new chicks, the first thing I did was give them some water and food and get them under a heat lamp. I was able to pick them up early at my local post office, which gave me all day to get everyone hydrated and eating.

    I brought them out at night, after dark. They had been here about 12 hours and were not quite 3 days old. My broody hen perked up as soon as she saw the chicks. She's pretty tame, so I was able to help the chicks under her without getting pecked. They didn't seem to know what to do when I first set them down, so I picked them up and sort of poked them under her wings. But she did the little cooing mama sounds, so it seemed like it was going to be ok. They all snuggled in within minutes. I turned out the light and left them. All was fine in the morning.

    I am eternally grateful that I have such a good broody and that all went well. My broody turned out to be a real trooper, mothering all these chicks even after they were fully feathered and old enough to be on their own. Even when the older chicks were 7 weeks old (younger group was 5 weeks), she was calling them over for food, and sleeping with them. She seemed to know that the younger ones were younger and needed the extra time. I've read horror stories. I was really nervous. But I am thrilled to have such a gem! :)

    As for the age difference. Successful? Yes. But a 2 weeks difference really was just on the cusp of "too much". The older ones were ready for little out-of-the-nest excursions. Babies needed a little extra time to rest. All involved did ok, mostly because the older breeds were very docile and not prone to bullying. (I would not recommend doing this if the older ones are breeds prone to dominance.) There was a very marked size difference between the two batches. I wouldn't try for any greater age difference.

    Also, 13 was on the "big" side, even for my fluffy Australorp Mama. Fortunately, we had a very warm September, and the older ones were able to sleep next to her, letting the little ones be warmer. I would recommend a smaller batch, especially if it's going to get chilly the first few weeks.

    Anyway, that was my experience introducing shipped chicks to my batch of hatched chicks. [​IMG] Thanks again for all the help and suggestions that made my experience a success!
     
    1 person likes this.

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