Hen Rearing and Changes in Behavior


Crossing the Road
14 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Holts Summit, Missouri
I have been having some fun watching closely a couple of my more tame gamehens rear offspring basically in front yard. This has enabled observations of a lot more detail with respect to behavior as it changes over time for a given brood. What really has peaked my interest is the time when young birds begin to become independent at about 5 weeks of age. Prior to this time chicks are inclined to stay under mom’s skirt and move about in a tight group. Hen clucks a lot. At about 5 to 6 weeks of age, chicks start to roam a further from hen as well as each other and they begin to have increased social problems involving fighting between siblings. This also time brood begins to roost off the ground. At this time the hen clucks less. Shortly thereafter the hen stops clucking and the hen; if early enough in season spends part of her day alone for more aggressive feeding and laying next clutch of eggs. The young juveniles then become buddies again and move about in a tight group with little or no discord. In addition to size, another change that occurs at this time is the cover on the head of young birds. During the first 5 weeks all are cover in chick fuzz / down, thereafter their heads become covered in feathers. Anyone else take time to notice change in young birds at this time?
I have also noticed these changes. But there's always an exception. I had a Black Sex link that brooded hers far above and beyond. She allowed them to roost on either side of her atop a 8 ft. wall that divides the stalls in my barn. She was also the head hen and the other hens would allow them passage past where they were roosting to sit next to Ma Ma. LOL I wish I had a video. It was hilarious.
Changes in hen's clucking more than just volume of clucks. Her clucks seem to be falling appart / getting shorter. Young birds still fighting a bit and most of that is done by males. I sat on front porch this morning in chair next to hen (she was sitting on arm of chair), she then stepped over on to my lap and shortly their after about 6 of her 15 also flew up onto my lap, settled down, and began preening. While in close proximity to me aggression is way down.

Juveniles of this batch are NOT integrating with older juveniles free ranging same area. There always appears to be a no mans land between groups of juveniles. In past harem master somehow promoted groups of different ages to merge as all were his offspring.

Hen also engaging in long chases after flying grasshoppers. This indicates increased need for protein and fat which larger grasshoppers are rich in. She is already gearing up for laying brood two of 2012. If like last year she is putting on weight fast now and will shortly begin to allow rooster to cover / copulate. Chicks already bonding with free-ranging rooster even though he is not their daddy.

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