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Getting a broody turned mama back with the flock

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by HappyHStead, May 21, 2016.

  1. HappyHStead

    HappyHStead Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 18, 2014
    We have a small flock, 6 hens, and one of the buff orpingtons went broody both last year and this year. This year we decided to get some chicks to put under her and she accepted them right away and 8 days later they are all doing great. The chicks are about 1.5 weeks old. They are in a sectioned off area of the coop where the rest of the flock can see them but not get at them, and I am wanting to get them all back into the flock. When I open the gate, mama shows them how to scratch and peck around and might even dust bathe a bit, but eventually she runs out into the run with the other adult birds where one of the light brahmas proceeds to peck at her, chase her around the run, squawks and fluffs up, etc. Is this normal? She isn't taking her chicks outside and in fact seems to "yell" at them before she goes out and they run to the far back of their sectioned area and wait quietly. When she gets hassled outside she will head back to the coop and then into their area and I just shut the gate for a while. The rest of the flock really couldn't care less about the chicks or mama when they are sectioned off and mama was a normal part of the flock before this - they have always been quite friendly to each other. When mama and chicks are out of their area but in the coop, other birds may be laying an egg, head in for a bite to eat - they just act normal like nothing is going on. It's when mama goes out by herself that the brahma hassles her. I know she is supposed to protect her chicks if needed, but how will she do that if she can't protect herself? Are they just reminding her of her place in the flock? I'm nervous to let them just be out without supervision, but I'm having oral surgery on Monday and won't be able to be out there to oversee things.
  2. Chicken Egg 17

    Chicken Egg 17 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 11, 2015
    McVeytown PA
    First off she they are fighting for there place in e pecking order and she will protect them when needed probably. But when u go on ur oral surgery just keep them in there sectioned off area so u won't have to worry about them.
    Last edited: May 21, 2016
  3. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hi there HappyHStead

    My set up and flock dynamics mean that my broodys and their little ones are separated [still within the run where everyone can see each other but not touch] and integration back into the flock takes time and patience.

    I agree with Roada Red in that I would leave her and the bubs in their little area so that you do not have to worry about them. They are safe there and when you have recovered, you will have more time to integrate them back in.

    The flock are just reminding her of her place in the pecking order or just reshuffling the pecking order and it is probably a good idea to be able to keep an eye on them while this is happening.

    I personally do not try and integrate my little ones into the flock until they are at least 4-5 weeks old, trying to time it so that they are a little bigger and smarter, but before mumma has cut the cord and is still willing to protect them.

    Do you free range them? I have found that letting the flock out for a free range and locking them out of the coop and run but leaving the mumma hen and bubs in the coop gives the mumma chance to show the bubs around places they have not been to without the risk of being pecked. This gives the chicks time to learn hiding places etc if they do feel threatened.

    I also let the mumma and bubs out into the garden while the rest of the flock is locked in the coop and run, again so that mumma can show them around and they learn all the good hidey spots without the risk of being pecked by the big gals. Granted, the flock protest “how come she is outside and we are not?” but they get over it [​IMG]

    Once the little ones are comfortable in the whole coop and run and also in the garden, integration is only during supervised free range time and while in the coop and run, they are still separated.

    Space and distractions are great aids with integration and time and patience a necessity.

    I hope your surgery goes well and you recovery quickly.
  4. HappyHStead

    HappyHStead Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 18, 2014
    Ok. I should really only be down for a couple days, but I had read mama might stop mothering as soon as 3-4 weeks, by which time the flock would have already accepted them if they had already been mingling. I had expected the flock members to keep the new chicks in line when they meet them, but not the familiar mama.
    We can't free range because of our dog, but the run is huge and has an add on that gets moved regularly to give them fresh greens. The chicks are small enough to fit through some of the fencelines, but I was told they probably wouldn't drift more than a foot or so away from mama just yet.
    I'll just leave them in their special area until I can spend more time with them.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Agrees that mama is re-establishing her place in the pecking order.
    I had to break up 3 nasty, bloodletting fights(because the cock was unsuccessful) when I reintegrated mama and chicks, but it soon passed and chicks were never the target.
  6. HappyHStead

    HappyHStead Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 18, 2014
    Agreed, aart, that the chicks aren't the target. I had read it was unusual for other hens to go after the chicks, but once in a while things happen. Their separate space is plenty large enough for mama and the two nuggets, but she really wants to get out of there sometimes so I just took that as my cue to start releasing them. The other buff orpington was being very social and nice with the family when I let them out for a bit this morning - mama Ollie ended up chasing her out of the coop, so I guess she can do it if she feels the need. I didn't perceive the need myself, but she's in charge of that, lol.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Each chicken is an individual and each flock has its own dynamics. It’s really hard to say what is or is not normal, but the Light Brahma attacking her is not that normal, the broody hen not thoroughly whipping that Light Brahma’s butt is not normal, and the broody hen leaving her chicks behind is not normal in my flock. But you are seeing what you are seeing.

    I suggest you do what the others advised when you are gone, leave them separated until you are back and on your feet. There is no reason to take a risk. Don’t believe that the chicks won’t roam that far either. Some broody hens keep their chicks really close but others will let their roam quite a bit. Each broody is different. I have seen plenty of two week old chicks lave Mama’s protection and mingle with the flock, often without incident. But occasionally one gets pecked and runs back to Mama.

    Since the Light Brahma seems to be the aggressor, I suggest when you are ready to let them mingle, you isolate the LB for a few days. Let the hen and chicks and the rest of the flock get used to each other. Then turn the LB back in with them when you can watch. Totally isolating a hen from the flock for a few days messes up her pecking order position and will sometimes change their behavior.

    I have had a couple of hens wean their chicks at three weeks but that is really unusual. Four to nine weeks seems to be more standard and some go beyond that. While three weeks is possible, don’t expect it.
  8. HappyHStead

    HappyHStead Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 18, 2014
    So my extraction went well and we set up a place for me to sit in the coop to oversee mom and chicks' outside time in the coop. Today she decided to take them outside, in and out of the coop a couple times before staying out, and everyone looks like they are having a great time. Mom is talking a lot to babies, has tuned up the sassy rhode island red, and "chewed" some worms and fruit for her nuggets. The rest of the flock has played very nicely and really doesn't seem to care about the chicks' presence at all. I will grab a book all the same and sit with them quite a bit today if they decide to stay out. Thanks for all the tips!

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