Bullied broody

Matzwd

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Apr 9, 2018
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St Louis, Missouri
I'm looking for advice. I have a broody with two new chicks that are four days old. She took them outside yesterday for the first time, and wants to protect them but isn't being respected. I am keeping close watch and have seen two other hens get too close to her and the chicks, and she puffs up and screeches at them but does not defend them otherwise. Instead of the other hens being intimidated, they peck and jump at her until she runs away with the babies.

Rather than taking them back to the nest after their first day outside, she tucked them away outside in the run, under the steps to the coop where I could barely get to them. After I removed the chicks and put them in the nest, she stayed under the steps until I took her out and put her with them.

Do you think it's best to separate this little family from the rest of the flock? I can put them in my grow out coop and run, which is empty at the moment. They can be seen by the rest of the flock while they are free ranging during the day. I just worry that the babies won't be integrated as they are when raised within the same coop as the flock. Do you think that would work if I let mom and babies out daily when I'm available for supervised intermingling? Or do you have other suggestions? I'm not comfortable leaving them outside unattended with the rest of the flock.
 
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Matzwd

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Apr 9, 2018
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Yep, I’d get them separated
Thank you. I think I knew the answer and went out and made the move at dawn. It is just nicer when they can n stay with the flock. I have amama with 5 five-week-old little out there, and everything had gone great, no problems, but that hen is at the top of the pecking order. This new mama is a Cochin bantam in a mixed flock of LF and bantams. Everyone is used to babies being around, but the Silver Sebright and Buff Polish are not having any of this broody bossing them.
 

aart

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I would leave them be, as long as no blood is shed, they'll figure it out.
If you separate it's just prolonging the integration.
Sometimes broodies have a harder time reintegrating.
Lots of space, and places to hide, can really make a difference.
 

Ridgerunner

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I think you made the right decision. I've never had that problem with any broody, bottom of the pecking order or higher, but you have to go by what you see, not what some stranger over the internet like me says. If you are uncomfortable with it, you are uncomfortable. What's kind of strange to me is that this happens when they free range, I'd expect this kind of problem more if they were contained. I'll point out the problem hens are also bantams. Size really doesn't matter.

If you leave them locked in that grow-out coop for two or three nights before you let them out the hen should return there every night at bedtime. It could be challenging to get them back in there during the day so consider your supervised intermingling being an hour or so before dark.

I don't know how much danger the chicks were in from those two hens. You were watching, I wasn't. It is very possible the chicks will be fine with the flock after a week or so of being out there where they can be seen. Sometimes the hens are more curious about the new chicks that dangerous. Observe when they are mingling, you may soon be comfortable with them ranging with the flock unsupervised. Trust what you see.
 

Matzwd

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Apr 9, 2018
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St Louis, Missouri
Lots of space, and places to hide, can really make a difference.
She is able to run away from them. I thought I could just watch closely just in case anything looked like it might go too far. My biggest issue in reality was how she to put them to bed. It's really my fault as I have changed things up on her a lot leading up to giving her the babies. I have two adult coops, with bantams in one and standards in the other. I have a standard broody in the coop floor of the bantam coop raising bantam chicks. I had her brood there so the chicks would be where I want them when they begin to roost.

Well, this Cochin (a bantam in the bantam coop) became broody, and when I decided to give her babies, I moved her nest to the standard coop to A) avoid problems between mamas and B) because she will be raising standard babies. And to confuse things more, I put her in a crate within the nest box there so she would imprint on that nest box in that coop. The evening before giving her the babies, I took the crate away so I would be able to access her to tuck babies under later that night. She spent one full day with them in the nest box and then took them outside the coop without bringing them back in at dark. I have probably confused her and don't quite know how to fix that.
If you separate it's just prolonging the integration.
This is what I want to avoid. If separated, though, they still all be in a see/no touch situation.
 

aart

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Had a broody last spring that got her butt kicked for 3-4 days, even by the cockbird, after I released them to the flock a week after hatch.
They finally worked it out, but it was ugly...chicks were never the target.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
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Thanks for the additional information. So the problem is when they are free ranging as they sleep separately. I'd still isolate them in that grow-out coop and try the supervised intermingling. Aart's one week before your first attempt sound good to me. I think you will gain confidence in unsupervised free ranging before too long but go by what you see.
 

Matzwd

Songster
Apr 9, 2018
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St Louis, Missouri
Thanks to you both. I think she was sitting long enough she needs to prove her position in the flock. I also think I had her really confused about were she should sleep and then threw babies at her. I've got her and the chicks separated but visible. This will allow her to put them safely to bed at night.
 

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