Can I remove chicks before they are weaned?

Trish1974

Araucana enthusiast
5 Years
Mar 16, 2016
3,088
6,902
592
North Central IN
My Coop
My Coop
Last month I had 2 hens in my breeding quad go broody, so I let them set. They each hatched 4 chicks 1 1/2 weeks apart. A few weeks ago I noticed it was getting a little crowded. My quad suddenly went to 12. (Coop is 4'x6', their enclosed run is 8'x10' and they are let out into a 1/8 acre pasture the last third of the day). The hen that didn't have chicks was getting grumpy and I could see the cockbird moving away from the chicks if they crowded him. So last weekend I moved the oldest set of chicks (5 weeks old at the time) and their mother into a new coop and run. Things seemed to chill out for awhile but this morning I noticed the hen that didn't have chicks now going after the remaining hen and chicks. Ideally, I would like to remove only these chicks in a few days (leaving their mother), put them in the new coop and run with the hen and chicks I recently moved, and move that hen back to the original coop. So that would put the original quad back together and all chicks would be living together.

The oldest group of chicks are now a little over 6 weeks old and fully feathered. The second group of chicks are 5 weeks old, and mostly feathered. Both hens are still very motherly. The second group of chicks's mother does not yet having them roosting. They still sleep in a nest box. Would it be okay to remove the hens at this point, or would there be some kind of hormonal upset since they didn't wean their chicks naturally? As for the chicks, will the youngest group be okay without their mother or should I wait until they are fully feathered and taught to roost?
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
24,182
35,318
1,122
Colorado Rockies
At five and six weeks, all of the chicks can be on their own. Removing them from the hen will cause her hormones to begin receding. She will be indifferent to them in very short order.

You do need to follow the 10 square foot minimum run space recommendation for the chicks to discourage conflict. You can also teach the group still nest sleeping to roost. Block off the nest at night and place the chicks on a perch close together. They will get the idea in a couple nights and soon do it on their own.
 

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