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How long does the mother take care of the chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Bookworm chick, Sep 6, 2009.

  1. Bookworm chick

    Bookworm chick Songster

    May 27, 2009
    Salem County, NJ
    I know that mammals are gradually weaned but wondered how it is with chickens. I'm sure that at some point the mother is going to say "ok, you're not cute chicks anymore, get away from me". Ours are only 2 weeks old so I'm sure she'll stick by them for awhile.

  2. Year of the Rooster

    Year of the Rooster Sebright Savvy

    Jun 27, 2008
    West Central Ohio
    My chicks are reaching 7 weeks and their mothers are still going [​IMG] Three hens are raising nine chicks, but I think one of them may be fading away. Sometimes it really depends on the hen.
  3. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    6 to 7 weeks and the chicks will still try to follow momma and roost with her for a while after that.
  4. Marlinchaser

    Marlinchaser Songster

    Oct 18, 2007
    Depends on the Hen, she decides when she is done. I have had them leave babies at 4-5 weeks, and had them stay with babies for couple months(even after they started laying again)
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Depends on the hen. Some will kick them to the curb early at 3 weeks and you might have to pick up, while others will hold on for months and not let go.
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    My blue Orp is unpredictable. The first time, she was done when the baby was 3 week old and tried to kill it. The second batch, she kept till 5 weeks old and then I had to rescue them from their mama. [​IMG] My banty Cochin kept hers till 8 weeks, when she began laying again.
  7. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    My Buff Orpingtons leave them at about 8 weeks, but my banty hens keep them till their twice that age.

  8. JewellFarm

    JewellFarm Songster

    Apr 22, 2009
    Lebanon, Virginia
    Until they decide they are done. Mine have kept chicks usually from around 6-8 weeks. Majority are right around 6 though.
  9. warmwater

    warmwater Songster

    Jun 7, 2009
    My Harriet started telling her chicks bye-bye between 8/9 wks old. She had been laying an egg every other day since they were 6 wks old. She was a good mommy!
  10. Hey, sorry to resurrect an old thread everyone, but this topic's been on my mind because of my poor 11 month old BO, Henrietta.

    She's very very thin. The vet weighed her a couple of days ago and she is 2 kilos. As a LF BO, she should of course be nearer 4 kilos.

    She's got a six week old chick, but was broody for seven weeks before hatching. She didn't like to leave the nest often to eat and drink, and even largely ignored food and water once I put the bowls within reach of the nest. The final straw for her was a very severe red mite attack during the last week of the brood, whereby she got very anaemic and completely stopped eating. We spotted that very quickly and tackled the mites ferociously, and by the time the chick was three days old they were gone, and Henrietta was on high-dose iron supplements. Her comb quickly went back to a nice reddish-pink and the bleeding from her nostrils stopped. She began to eat small amounts of treats again quite quickly.

    She's now very active, looking to all intents and purposes very healthy (flapping and exercising her wings a lot, charging up and down the garden, looking really full of energy!), and still mothering the chick extremely well, but not putting on any weight. She's eating, but only when I nag her, and only the choicest treats and clover. All the bugs and worms she catches go to the chick, and when it is eating, she simply stands guard over it. She eats so very little herself. Our vet has put her on Tylan soluble, just in case she's having an underlying recurrence of her mycoplasma (she got very thin when she first had a bout of it five months ago), and some heavy duty vitamins to give her a boost, but three days later and she's not eating any better, so I'm inclined to think it is simply her strong mothering instinct, not a symptom of an illness. (She is also moulting, which isn't helping, as everything she does eat is going into producing new feathers.)

    I desperately want her to kick the chick out now, but I'm scared she'll keep going with it indefinitely. It's looking like it is a hen, so we'll be keeping it, so it's not possible to separate them. She and her chick live happily in the main coop with our other hen, Bella, who also mothers it and catches bugs for it. I don't want to have to give it away in order to save Henrietta's life, but if that's what it takes, I will.

    I'm also concerned that Bella is getting very overweight with all these treats I'm throwing into the coop to tempt Henrietta to eat, and of course, I couldn't bear it if she got ill too. She weighs a ton when you pick her up, and her eggs are starting to get very large from the richness of the diet we're offering. I don't want her to have a prolapse from laying very large eggs and being too fat. I also don't want to separate her from them, as it seems Bella is the only thing that encourages Henrietta to do anything other than stand over the chick looking worried and watching for predators. When Bella forages, Henrietta forages; when she runs around the garden, Henrietta runs around the garden. But when Bella is inside the coop laying an egg, Henrietta goes back to standing over the chick looking worried again.

    It's all just a terrible mess that I can't seem to solve. [​IMG]

    Would Henrietta get even more upset and pine for the chick if we removed it? Could that be the final straw? Or might it work?

    And this weight issue likely to be simply down to mothering, or should I continue with my vet's suggestion that Henrietta is actually ill? She doesn't behave ill, just disinterested in food. I'm so worried about her [​IMG][​IMG]

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