Adopted hen and chicks - time to combine?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by vbgarden, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. vbgarden

    vbgarden Out Of The Brooder

    59
    11
    41
    Jun 23, 2008
    Virginia Beach
    I've been reading several recent posts that seem to have this same topic but wanted to check for any more insights from you more experienced chicken rustlers.

    I "adopted" a smallish hen (half banty, from her suspected parentage) and her three hatchlings as a favor for a friend who was leaving for Japan. They have been in a separate run on one side of my coop, with an inside area fenced off from the others with plastic fencing. I knew the chicken and the flock well so was not overly concerned about disease but kept Mama and Babies separate both as a doublecheck and so that she could adjust to her new surroundings.

    She was very fierce in guarding her chicks within the large flock but has been relatively peaceful here away from (but in clear sight and hearing of) the other hens. The chickens are getting to the leggy, "teenager" stage (but still nesting next to and under Mama at night) and I'm thinking that I'd better start integrating Mama and the Babies while she still has some motherly protective feelings for them. I really don't want to continue maintaining two "flocks". My other chickens are pretty aggressive toward newcomers.

    Anyone's advice and experience with this type of merger? How have you protected chicks when combining flocks? Can one Mama take on 4 other hens if they harrass her or the chicks? (The rooster is very gentle.) All thoughts and suggestions much appreciated!


    Sybil
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,307
    3,609
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'd fix an area that the chicks can get to but the adults cannot in the run or coop, house the hen and chicks for one day in there, then let them out with the flock. I'd probably keep food and water in there for the chicks so they don't have to eat with the big girls and boy for a while. And I'd probably hang out in the general area once they are combined, just to be sure. If mama has to discipline another chicken about harming her babies, I would not interfere, since mama needs to inflict that discipline, but I'd certainly observe and help if really needed.

    As long as mama still has that protective instinct, it should go OK, but they are living animals and anything can happen. Mama still has to work out her place in the pecking order, but a broody hen normally has such a bad attitude, it is usually not a big problem.
     
  3. dacdeihl

    dacdeihl Chillin' With My Peeps

    238
    2
    111
    Sep 24, 2009
    NorthEast, In
    I agree Ridgerunner. Chickens are animals and they need to be left to what they know best. A pecking order will be established now or later and they will have to fend for themselves if mom won't. If mom will help then they are lucky and mom is a great mother hen. Watch and see what happens.
    In the past when I get new commers in with the flock I make sure they are in that teenage stage and I just put them in. They fight and pick on them for a few days and things settle down.
    Good luck.
     
  4. vbgarden

    vbgarden Out Of The Brooder

    59
    11
    41
    Jun 23, 2008
    Virginia Beach
    Thank you both! I agree and will plan to start the "blend" this week, after I get some chick "hidey places" set up and make sure the small gauge fencing goes all the way around the enclosure (they could still pop through the chain link fence if sufficiently curious or frightened). I think Mom can take the others on as long as she has a safe place to back up to.

    In the past, I've always gotten at least 8 - 10 chicks of the same age and put them in with a fewer number of older hens/rooster and there were enough scurrying around to keep the whole flock confused! [​IMG]

    Many thanks for responding!
    Sybil
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by