Hen adopting chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ksilber, Sep 29, 2014.

  1. ksilber

    ksilber Out Of The Brooder

    16
    1
    26
    Mar 21, 2014
    Brush Prairie, WA
    Hi All... I got five day-old chicks two weeks ago.... Our barn where I normally brood chicks was full of hay so I didn't want a heat lamp in there, so I moved a chicken tractor into our chicken coop to brood the chicks there.... Now one of my hens won't leave the coop and has quit laying.... She seems to think the chicks are hers and chucks to them and they gravitate toward her even though they are separated by chicken wire.... Should I let her in with them or will she kill them? She seems really protective of them and gets agitated when we handle the chicks... If she adopted them, I think I could get rid of the heat lamp. Last spring when we brought home chicks, she found their brooder while out free ranging and then immediately decided to go broody. (Strange for a polish hen)... I just don't know if I can trust her, but want to make her happy! Any advice? Thanks.
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

    36,684
    4,699
    566
    Feb 18, 2011
    Ohio
    I would try and see if she will adopt them, just watch them very carefully... even if things look to be going well make sure they can get away from her if they need to when you leave them alone... if you have some wire with wider spacing the chicks can get through but she can't that would work well. Some really good broody hens will adopt pretty much any chick, not caring about age at all... you might be lucky and have one of those.
     
  3. nayeli

    nayeli Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,978
    91
    196
    Jan 18, 2014
    I'm with Kelsie! I'd remove the wire and watch for a while. If she adopts them and vice versa they should go under her and she will teach them all about being a chicken and protect them from your other chickens! I also like the idea of leaving some way for them to get away if they need to though!
     
  4. ksilber

    ksilber Out Of The Brooder

    16
    1
    26
    Mar 21, 2014
    Brush Prairie, WA
    I put her in with them and she was happy for about three minutes.... The chicks all ran to greet her and she checked them over... Then the chicks started pecking at her wattles and fro.... Then she couldn't get out of the chicken tractor fast enough! I totally wasn't expecting her to be the one getting picked on, rather the other way around. I think if she is hanging out today, I will try it again, but something tells me that she might join the rest of the chickens today, which is good, because she is lead hen and the other chickens don't know what to do without her.
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. Acornewell

    Acornewell Chillin' With My Peeps

    480
    90
    148
    Aug 11, 2012
    LaOtto, Indiana
    I will be so curious to see how it goes!
     
  6. ksilber

    ksilber Out Of The Brooder

    16
    1
    26
    Mar 21, 2014
    Brush Prairie, WA
    Final update is that she still hangs out near the brooder during the day and still shows no aggression towards the chicks. I took off the roof so she could go in and out, but she is still roosting with the other chickens at night... Therefore, her adopting them is a no go... My new theory is that she might have a "start and grow" food addiction... She prefers that to the flock raiser that the older chickens are getting and which is located only a couple feet from the brooder... Probably has more protein which might help her through her molt.
     
  7. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    5,387
    916
    291
    Dec 25, 2012
    Your experience is totally congruous with what I have seen. Hens only adopt biddies when their hormones are in sync with the circumstances (she is brooding chicks) and when the adoptive mothers' own chicks are much OLDER than the chicks being considered for adoption. The younger chicks by virtue of their smaller size pose less of a threat to the older biddies so there is no reason for the perspective mother to kill the motherless chicks. This is not to say though, that the adoptive mother will hover the younger chicks. Also remember that even if the adoptive mother hen hovers the adoptive chicks, she will take her own or older chicks to roost right on schedule and that means she will happily leave the younger or adoptive chicks behind on the ground to either chill or freeze to death at night, or else become chicken nuggets.

    I do not consider it an adoption when a hen accepts newly hatched chicks that are not her own but who are about the same age as her own biddies. In my book this means that she just isn't quick enough to distinguish her own babies from the babies of strange hens. In this case I feel that if the hen is afraid of error, she will err on the side of caution because she is unsure which chicks are hers.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by