Adoption in the early stages with teething problems - what should I do?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Achickobsessed, Aug 18, 2014.

  1. Achickobsessed

    Achickobsessed In the Brooder


    I am a complete newbie to this forum business so please excuse any faux pas! A week ago we had 2 chicks hatch from 9 eggs which My silver laced Wyandotte, Dolly, has been faithfully brooding. The eggs were a mixture of some cross breed from a friend and 6 silkie eggs from the internet. Some of the eggs were infertile and I didn't realise and one silkie died after hatch - no idea why, one silkie died fully formed in shell. Anyhooo - we bought 4x 6 day old chicks yesterday, (so the same age as my other 2) and introduced them after dark last night.

    I slipped them into the nest and checked an hour later and all was quiet. This morning all chicks were under Mamma and she was making encouraging purring noises. A bit later she went into the run for breakfast with her original hatchees (Poppy and Rainbow) following but the newbies stayed in the nest cheeping. As soon as I opened the coop lid she rushed back to sit on them which I took as a very good sign as she wanted to protect them from me.

    All morning I have been watching closely and whilst she has been out in the run with Poppy and Rainbow, the newbies have made it out of nest to food and water but still in coop. Now she is back on the nest and the newbies are all huddled together outside of the nest box looking as if they are cold, sleeping in the food bowl! I don't know whether to keep lifting them back into the nest or leave them to it?

    I have an Eglu Classic btw, so nest box is slightly raised and I have taken the roosting bars out so the step is a little steeper but Poppy and Rainbow are managing fine and Rainbow is a silkie and quite diddy! Not sure why new chicks aren't figuring out how to get back into nest...

    I don't think Mamma is rejecting exactly as she seems to have accepted them and I haven't seen any pecking or anything towards them but the newbies are incubator hatched and don't seem to understand to go to Mamma.... what can I do to help? Am nervous of interferring too much but don't want to let them get cold.

    Any advice please would be very much appreciated!

    Thank you in advance.
  2. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Songster

    Mar 31, 2014
    Never been in your situation, but what I would do is put a light on them if it's cold. That way if the chicks are not under Mama hen, they will still be warm. Hopefully it's just a matter of time and they will figure it out.
  3. Achickobsessed

    Achickobsessed In the Brooder

    Thanks for the reply, this afternoon she started pecking one of the new chicks because they dared to come outside so I think maybe this was not destined to be! Off to buy a heat lamp we go.. impromptu brooder set up inside!! At least this way I get to watch them grow up but I have no idea how or when now I will be able to reintroduce the 4 to the existing 2?! Any suggestions anyone?
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    So the chicks were 6 days old when you tried to graft them? I'd think the window on the hen's side was okay, but the chicks just may have been too old to imprint to a momma at that time. Sounds like she was okay with them, they just didn't understand having a momma. You should be able to merge the two groups of chicks when momma's ready to wean the babies, whenever that may be.
  5. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Songster

    Mar 31, 2014
    My chicks were a little over a month when brooder decided she was going to wean them. It was our 1st successful brooder hen, so I had questions. "Old Gray Mare" on this website helped me out with answers. Maybe you can look her up and ask any unanswered questions.
    Some of the pecking is normal of course even with the mama pecking the babies. Its her way of teaching the babies about the pecking order. As Donrae mentioned, it seems the mama was ok with the situation, but the babies just didn't understand.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Achickobsessed

    Achickobsessed In the Brooder

    Thank you for your advice. I didn't know it was ok for some pecking by Mummy hen to take place. This seemed kind of vicious though but maybe that is because I haven't seen her peck the other two at all and the new chick was squealing in pain / fear and I panicked and just thought I needed to rescue her asap before some serious damage was done. I wish I hadn't over reacted now because although it is really cute having the chicks in our living room (in a big rat cage) we already think they need more space and I have no idea how we are going to keep them under heat and give them more room.

    My hubby is going to build a larger run but we don't have any way of putting the heat lamp outside .. at what age would it be ok to let them out during the day in the run without the heat lamp? The weather here is unseasonably cool for the time of year at about 17C, so I am guessing not until they are fully feathered...6 weeks?

    Does anyone know how much space 4 chicks need in a run? I want to make it as big as I can whilst still being able to fit in our v small outhouse!

    Thank you
  7. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    You didn't overreact by removing the chicks. Especially if they were not bonding to the hen and she was starting to peck them. You'll just have to raise them in a brooder and integrate them when they are older.

    Chicks can move into a coop when they are fully feathered, about 5 weeks old. That's the age mine move into their own coop and grow-out pen alongside the older birds. They stay there until they are 12 weeks old, then I integrate them into the flock by letting them all out together. By that time pecking order scuffles are very minor and things usually go off without a hitch.

    As far as the brooder very young chicks need at least a square foot of space per bird, they very quickly need more then that in just a couple weeks.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: