Does a hen lose her mothering instinct?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MammaHen, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. MammaHen

    MammaHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 16, 2008
    Knysna, South Africa
    I have a mommy hen who had 10 chicks 6 weeks back. As soon as she went broody i put her in her own little coop with small wired outside area too. When they were about 4 weeks i opened up the wire a little every day for mommy to finally have a bit of freedom and to teach them the ways of the big world and start intergrating with the rest of the flock. She would always stay close to her coop and at the slightest sign of danger, round up her babes and head for cover. Since i started letting them mix, the rooster has been on her case in a big way, she started laying again, and when i go close up in the evening, there she is roosting with the rest of the hens and her babies are running riot outside. Has she abandoned them, are they big enough to fend for themselves, has this got something to do with the roo getting to her too soon? Its like her maternal instinct went up in flames!
     
  2. bluey

    bluey thootp veteran

    Apr 10, 2008
    Washington, PA
    First of all... [​IMG]

    I heard that usually after 6 weeks or so that the mother hen starts to distance herself from her babies...

    But in practice, my momma hen still watches over her 17 week old chicks and the roo absolutely dotes on her and is such a mama's boy...

    Just my experiences....
     
  3. MammaHen

    MammaHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 16, 2008
    Knysna, South Africa
    Thanks for that. So would you say its safe to start housing them at night with the rest of the motley crew?
     
  4. birdsofparadise

    birdsofparadise Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 15, 2008
    North Kohala, Hawaii
    I donʻt think you have any other option. They are "teenagers" and will get knocked around a bit finding their spot in the adult world, but theyʻll do fine.
     
  5. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

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    Sep 14, 2008
    Adair Co., KY
    She is probably trying to get them to roost with her. Most people say that hens leave their chicks at about 6 weeks, but I have 3 broodies with bitties right now. The oldest bitties are at least 4 months, and the youngest are at least 3 months. I did have one that just quit hers at 4 weeks though, without teaching them to roost or anything. They were still going to the nest. She didn't even try to call them on the roost. Just make sure the little ones are able to get up on the roost with mama. They should be big enough to keep themselves warm, but you might have to lock them up inside the coop for a little while so they remember where to go. And don't let them outside free ranging by themselves, whatever you do!! They are the perfect size for hawks. I lost 7 in one day of the 4 week olds that got left by their mama!! Good luck [​IMG]
     
  6. MammaHen

    MammaHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 16, 2008
    Knysna, South Africa
    Thanks for your advice. I put them all together today including some Boschveld's I got as day olds, which are about the same age. The rooster is being a real meany and the hens are behaving like a bunch of premenstrual women so I hope they'll all be ok. Just got to work out how to let the big ones out and leave the little ones in tomorrow....
     

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