First time Momma Hen

kjanes

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 27, 2014
56
2
33
In short, I got my first flock last year, all chicks I raised up. I had one rooster and planned to hatch eggs this year if I had a broody. Unfortunately it became necessary to rehome my Roo before I had a broody, so I incubated eggs while I still had access to his fertile eggs...I wanted to see some of my first roo's babies. Anywho, half way through incubation one of my hens went broody. I let her sit on eggs until hatch, and a few days ago was able to slip a few chicks under her. Asking on other forums, researching, and hoping I made a best choice...I decided to let her raise them on the coop floor for easier transition later. She is in half of a large size dog crate, which I made open just yesterday for her to take the babies out when she felt ready. To my surprise, she took the 2 day old baby chicks out to the run with the rest of my hens. The babies tended to wander a few feet from Momma and got pecked a couple times. Later when I knew it was roosting time I went out to make sure they made it up the ramp to the coop. Momma was inside calling them but they were left in the run by themselves. Not knowing what the other hens might do I rushedbin and scooped them up, exited the run and went to the man door of the coop to replace them to the dog crate just as a very unhappy Momma was coming at me. My anxiety is through the roof! Lol. I've never had a Momma hen, so I don't know what is "good Momma" and "bad Momma" behavior. I don't know if I overstepped my boundaries or if she is neglectful. Not being in this situation before, I've read barred rocks aren't always good mothers, and she's a first time Momma...I just don't have full trust in the situation yet and don't want anything to happen to my little babies. So...that wasn't short, sorry. What can I look for as good/bad momma behaviors? Do I need to be concerned about the other hens hurting my babies?
 

BayBay Peepers

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 5, 2013
5,156
1,126
338
Wisconsin
Our hen is very protective the first week. (like extremely) As the weeks go on she settles and gives the babies a little more rein. As long as your hen is not pecking her young I would say thats good behavior. She is probably going to puff up at you and the rest of your flock for a while. If she was calling to them I don't think that's abandonment. They're probably just too small to make the trip. That will change fast as they grow super fast. Just keep a close eye on her and I bet things will settle over time. I would try to help them up the ramp for now, but don't just pick them up and set them inside. I would try to scoot their butts up there so they know they can do it.
 

kjanes

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 27, 2014
56
2
33
Our hen is very protective the first week.  (like extremely)  As the weeks go on she settles and gives the babies a little more rein.  As long as your hen is not pecking her young I would say thats good behavior.  She is probably going to puff up at you and the rest of your flock for a while.  If she was calling to them I don't think that's abandonment.  They're probably just too small to make the trip.  That will change fast as they grow super fast.  Just keep a close eye on her and I bet things will settle over time.  I would try to help them up the ramp for now, but don't just pick them up and set them inside.  I would try to scoot their butts up there so they know they can do it. 

Perfect. Thank you! That's reassurance I was looking for.
 

kjanes

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 27, 2014
56
2
33
Sounds like they are doing great! Momma is just trying to teach them the journey in at night. I agree to keep an eye on them but they should be keeping up with her in no time!

I'm realizing I may spoil and baby my chickens a little too much. Talk about tough love! Lol. I sat, very anxious, watching them go in tonight. Again she went on in and sat in there calling for a good 15-20 minutes while the frantic chicks looked around for Momma. So sad. As bad as I wanted I didnt intervene. 2 of them finally made it up the ramp. The third one gave some good tries but just couldn't do it so I helped it. My husband will be in charge of doing a new ramp tomorrow...easier for the babies. Haha
 

MakelaNJoe

Chirping
Apr 26, 2015
353
36
98
Northern California
I hear ya! I just put my 3 5 week olds out in thier coop at night a few days ago, ive been trying to cut them iff heat but i feel so bad so i gave in and gave them a seedling pad which just raises temp under them by 10 degrees! But now im alittle worried im spoiling them, i found them tonight snuggled in nesting boxes! So looks like i need to close those off tomorrow!
 

kjanes

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 27, 2014
56
2
33
I hear ya! I just put my 3 5 week olds out in thier coop at night a few days ago, ive been trying to cut them iff heat but i feel so bad so i gave in and gave them a seedling pad which just raises temp under them by 10 degrees! But now im alittle worried im spoiling them, i found them tonight snuggled in nesting boxes! So looks like i need to close those off tomorrow!


Haha. We get so caught up on following the "book", 95 degrees the first week 90 the second...the babies are a couple days old and were fine wandering around Momma in 70 degrees.
 

BayBay Peepers

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 5, 2013
5,156
1,126
338
Wisconsin
I too followed the book at first. It wasn't until I watched a Momma hen with her chicks that I realized they're tougher than we think. It's a great thing to experience and a wonderful way to have chicks raised up.
 

kjanes

In the Brooder
5 Years
Apr 27, 2014
56
2
33
I too followed the book at first.  It wasn't until I watched a Momma hen with her chicks that I realized they're tougher than we think.  It's a great thing to experience and a wonderful way to have chicks raised up.

That's where my concern stemmed from. Having not seen a hen raise chicks I thought she was a little harsh and mean. I guess in reality she's teaching them to survive and care for themselves, after all they only have a few short weeks to learn from her. I'm excited to watch the process, even if it does pull at my heartstrings.
 

Sonya9

Crowing
7 Years
Feb 7, 2014
1,922
1,161
291
Georgia
I hear ya! I just put my 3 5 week olds out in thier coop at night a few days ago, ive been trying to cut them iff heat but i feel so bad so i gave in and gave them a seedling pad which just raises temp under them by 10 degrees! But now im alittle worried im spoiling them, i found them tonight snuggled in nesting boxes! So looks like i need to close those off tomorrow!

They are only 3.5 weeks old. My bantam hens will cover them even at 6+ weeks at night for warmth and comfort (well cover them as best they can).

When they are FULLY feathered they won't need the heat. When they are older they won't all huddle in the nest boxes either. They are just babies, no need to worry about spoiling them at this age.
 
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MANNA-PRO

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