How long do you leave chicks with mother?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Peanut59, May 20, 2012.

  1. Peanut59

    Peanut59 In the Brooder

    Feb 7, 2012
    How long do you leave chicks with mother? I have a family of silkies in a tractor, 9 chicks with hen and roo.The chicks are feathering out and are about 4 weeks old. Two of the chicks are other breeds that the hen hatched with her own. The tractor is moved to fresh grass every other day and they have free choice feed. The run under the coop is 24 sq ft.
    I noticed the hen and rooster were occasionally pecking at odd chicks yesterday. Are they trying to cast them out of the family or is it time to take all of the chicks out of the tractor?
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Crossing the Road

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    You'll have to judge by behavior. Normally they can stay with the flock if there's enough room.
    Once "weaned" from mom's warmth they will be at the bottom of the pecking order until they're grown.
  3. MamaRoo

    MamaRoo Songster

    Jul 5, 2011
    A ferry ride away, WA
    11 chickens in 24 square feet seems a bit crowded. Maybe they're stressed.

    My chicks are 4 weeks old and they still want to be with mom, and she with them.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    The hens will decide when they want to wean the chicks. I've had hens wean their chicks anywhere from 3 weeks to 9 weeks.

    It sounds like yours is ready to wean hers. I'm a huge proponent of letting the hen raise them with the flock and keeping them with the flock, but I'm going to recommend differently for you. Once the hen weans them, they are on their own as far as pecking order goes. The hen no longer protects them and may even go after them. Most mature roosters protect all members of their flock, but not all do.

    When you have young chicks in the flock, the older chickens rank higher in the pecking order and will often peck any young chick that invades their personal space. The young chick runs away and everything is as it should be. If the chick does not run away, it is a challenge to the pecking order and it can turn very violent. The young chicks quickly learn to stay away from the adults.

    In your situation, the chicks have nowhere to run and no way to avoid the older chickens. I think you really should give them a lot more room or separate them.
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Very good advice from Ridgerunner. My hen kept her chicks with her until they were 15 weeks old! I kept waiting for her to give them the boot but she must have really enjoyed their company. However in my case they were free-ranging my backyard so there was plenty of space for them to get away when the time came that she had had enough of parenting. In a confined space like a tractor, with so many of them, they have fewer options.
  6. howlingrose46

    howlingrose46 In the Brooder

    Aug 16, 2013
    I have two coops and we have 14 3 weeks old chicks we ordered in the second house. I moved my mama silkie into that house with her two new baby chicks. The big house has 20 birds and 6 are roosters. Not sure how long to leave mama separated in the house. The bigger chicks peck at the new babies. It has only been a week. Mana pecks them away. And they hide in the nesting boxes. Just worried about her being away from the flock to long
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Crossing the Road

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    A lot depends on how aggressive the big house birds are. A silkie makes a good mother but isn't the most imposing figure. One option is to bring one or two of the older birds into the second house to integrate and in a few weeks, when the chicks are bigger, integrate them all. Then you'll be bringing in an equal number of birds.
    Another option is to wait about 4 weeks and at night move them and take about half of the big house birds (preferably the most aggressive ones) and put them in the second building for a few days. That way the smaller birds will be the largest group.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2013

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