How long do you leave chicks with mother?


In the Brooder
7 Years
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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My babies are about 6 weeks and tonight when closing up the tent which is the brooder mom was not with them... which prompted me to come here and look for answers. Thank you for being here for us newbies! She did this once before and the next morning she was running to the opening of the tent to get to them... this evening they did not seem ready for mom not being there... we will see what tomorrow brings... are they really ready at that age????

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