hen w/ chick behavior question

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Chicken Lil, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. Chicken Lil

    Chicken Lil Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2008
    Okay, be patient with me, I have never seen a hen raise chicks so I don't know what normal should be.

    I had two broody hens, and last week I unsuccesfully tried to give her four, day old chicks. When that failed I sent her back to the hen house, got the other broody hen, set up a nesting box in the seperate pen and let her be broody there.

    She has now been sitting on the nest in this location for a week, and broody for 16 days. So last night I waited until 8 PM, when she was asleep, and I slipped two of the now week old chicks under her. All seemed to go well, so after another hour I slipped the other two under her. Again they all seemed happy snuggled up under her, she making little clucking noises, and all you could see was an occaional head. This seemed like the way it should be. This morning at 6 AM they were still like that. Than my husband checked them at 10 AM, before work, and they were still all tucked away in the nesting box.

    When I came home from work at 6 PM I found the hen sitting in another location (like she was nesting), and the chicks running around and keeping away from her. She ignored them, and when they came close she would peck them hard and they would run away. This went on for some time, she did not chase the chicks, but she was very aggressive when they got near her, and they seemed to be afaid of her, and kept away.

    Than when it came time to put on the night heat lamp the chicks ran to the nesting box. The hen got in and pecked the heck out of them, and they ran out. But than a couple of minutes later I somehow startled the chicks, and they all ran back in the nesting box under the hen. Now they are all now tucked away and sleeping. It has been about an hour and all is calm out there.

    So is it normal for a hen to ignore her chicks for a while? Or peck them that dang hard, and chase them from the nesting box?

    I'm really confused. When the chicks are tucked under / around her they seem so happy, so I really want this to work.

    I'm confused.
  2. Bobbi Jack

    Bobbi Jack Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 9, 2009
    Did you say you gave her the chicks; she didn't hatch them? That would not be normal behavior toward chicks she had hatched, but would be perfectly normal toward 'intruders'. Oftentimes a hen will act like that for a while if you give her chicks from and incubator or another hen, but will end up adopting them in a few days. Do keep a very sharp eye on her, though, and if you see any blood on the chicks, take them away from her at least until it heals.
    This is the best I can tell you, but if anyone else says something different you should probably go with their advice as they probably have more experience than I.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2009
  3. Chicken Lil

    Chicken Lil Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2008
    Thank you so much for your reply, I was really not sure what to make of this behavior.

    I'll continue to watch carefully, and hope for the best . [​IMG]
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Hens and chicks imprint on each other while the chicks are very young. The younger the chicks are, the greater the odds that you can give them to a broody. The biggest thing seems to be to slip them under the hen in the middle of the night while she is groggy. She seems to accept them better. Sometimes, no matter what you do, it just doesn't work.

    Some hens are a lot better mothers than others and will adopt about anything about any time. It just depends on the hen. I think it would be unusual for week old chicks to imprint on a hen and the hen may have trouble treating them like anything but intruders. But they are living animals with hormones and it might work. I'd continue to monitor closely and be prepared to brood the chicks if she does not accept them.
  5. boxermom

    boxermom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 22, 2009
    What's your point Chicken Lil? I'm like that with my teen and pre-teen girls. [​IMG]
  6. Chicken Lil

    Chicken Lil Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 14, 2008

    This too has failed. The chicks were so happy snuggling with her last night, but this morning she had rejected them. Luckily she did not hutr them at all.

    The hen is out in the hen house again, and the chicks are staying in the big brooder. Guess I'm raising these guys myself. [​IMG]

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