:-/ Indifferent Mother Hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by FlutterbyChicks, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. FlutterbyChicks

    FlutterbyChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 21, 2015
    So I had a broody Barnevelder. I got her eggs. They hatched two days ago. Moved them to a smaller grow-out pen so they are separated from the group, but still visible. It has both a coop and run, but she chose to stay with them in the run area. It's completely predator proof and weather proof, so it's no big deal.

    She spends a lot of her time scratching at the floor of the run. But when she does this, she pays no attention to where the chicks are, and several times now has sent them flying while she does this. And she doesn't seem to care when she does. Otherwise, when she finally quits doing that, she'll lay there and let them crawl under her, and she acts normal.

    Also, she scratches so much at the ground, she gets shavings and dirt all in their water and food. I tried to let her out into the big chicken yard, but she squawks to get back into her babies. I'm so afraid she's going to kill one inadvertently. Should I remove her? I have an EcoGlow ready just in case.
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I'd leave them alone. Scratching is what chickens do. Maybe she's teaching them to get out of her way.
    Start setting the food and water higher so it doesn't get so dirty. Perhaps a piece of plywood set on top of the shavings.
  3. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Shazam Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I have had broodies do this, she's just doing her job with extreme enthusiasm trying to find them food. You will just have to refill feed and water a lot. As they get older they will learn to stay out of her way.
  4. Weehopper

    Weehopper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2015
    Totally normal. The babies will learn to get out of the way. I have a hen who hatched out a couple of days ago. She's giving a whole new meaning to the term digging machine. She's flinging shavings and dirt and rocks (I'm on very rocky ground) clear across the pen. Lol Her chicks are learning to move very fast. I'm just hoping she doesn't bean one with a rock. So far, she hasn't. Just clean out the waterer periododcially during the day. Same with the food. A few more days I will open the pen and let her out, which will help. The rooster and my other hens have had a good look at all the goings on, and have lost interest. Hopefully there will be no heavy duty problems.
  5. FlutterbyChicks

    FlutterbyChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 21, 2015
    I do have the food and water up, she really goes crazy with it. I'll try making a whole platform to put everything on. Hopefully that works. I totally get the scratching thing, but it's almost like she's in a trance when she's doing it. I've learned to just grit my teeth and walk away...

    I like that. Extreme enthusiasm. I hope they stay out of her way!
    I guess I'm just a little soft, lol. That's funny, I did let her out earlier today before I let the big girls out. She roamed around the chicken yard with the babies for a bit. Later, when the big ones were out, she ran out when I opened her door, but I wasn't sure about the babies, so I left them in their area. She didn't last long before she desperately wanted back in with them. So I let her back in. I think I just need to let her out a few times a day. She seems to be a bit better today.

    Thanks for all your advice!
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I agree, she's not indifferent, she's doing her level best to teach them to find food.

    I was just looking at the craters in my bantam pen (3 hens with chicks currently) and telling my Honey I wish I could harness them in the garden to till for me. They're little scratching machines! They must have the strongest legs, I'm telling you.

    It is hard to see a little chick get knocked across the pen when it gets in momma's way. But I've never had a chick injured from this. They're tougher than they look, and they do learn pretty fast to get out of momma's way. Plus, they find there's good things to eat!
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    When I have a broody hen and baby chicks in the coop I put down a large piece of plywood over the shavings and put the water in the middle of that. I still have to clean the shavings off the plywood regularly. You should be dumping the water once a day anyway to keep it clean as far as Coccidiosis is concerned. Also, if you dump it regularly you stop mosquitoes from breeding in it. My feeder hangs so it’s raised a bit but it has to be low for the chicks to get to it. Since it’s just for a few days I live with it. To a certain extent they’ll pick the food around the shavings.

    I don’t keep the chicks isolated from the main flock though. I let the broody totally raise the chicks with the flock. The broody normally keeps her chicks in the coop for about two days after she brings them off the nest, but after that she takes them outside first thing and doesn’t bring them back in until bedtime. I built this creep feeder to fit over a chick feeder. The chicks can get through the openings but the big chickens can’t reach the food.


    In this heat I have water in four different places outside the coop so they can get to water. I use white bowls so they stay cooler in the sun and put rocks in them so the chicks can walk on the water. I do different things for the water but this photo shows one of them in the winter when I use black rubber bowls so the sun helps keep the water thawed. Just imagine the bowl white and filled with rocks. In the coop, imagine that sitting in the middle of a sheet of plywood.


    I don’t know what your chicken yard looks like. It may be a run with absolutely no green stuff growing in it or it may be filled with grass and such. Mine has a lot of grass and weeds. The chicks eat from the creep feeder first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Other than that, Mama has them out on the grass practically all day eating and scratching and occasionally drinking.

    If my coop is not crowded I let Mama take the chicks back in there at night, but right now my main coop is really full. I have a small coop out in the run where I keep Mama and the chicks locked up for a couple of days before I let them roam with the flock. After those two days of confinement Mama takes them back to that coop so I can lock them up at night, safe from predators. With your set-up and since you have kept them confined in there I’d expect your broody to take her chicks back in that pen you have them in.

    A lot of people keep them separated like you are doing, nothing wrong with that. But I prefer to let the Mama hen take care of integration for me so I don’t have to worry about that. We all do things our own ways.

    Good luck and welcome to the broody experience. It’s a great ride.
    2 people like this.
  8. FlutterbyChicks

    FlutterbyChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 21, 2015
    It IS hard to see them get knocked out of the way, but I'm getting better. And they're getting better at moving the heck out of the way!

    Thanks for all the advice! My chicken yard is getting pretty bare at this point. It's 30 x 32 ft, but they got the grass down pretty low/bare. I do have a few areas where I made a "chicken salad bar" that they can pick through, then I occasionally move it to let more things grow through.

    The only reason why I don't want them out all day with the group is that I occasionally see hawks flying above. They did try once to get one of my hens, but only got feathers. I chose not to cover the entire chicken yard. I realize it could let hawks in, but that's a risk I'm willing to take at this point in time. I do have a completely predator proof area that I will close them in for when I'm not home. I take the risk with the big girls but I know they could easily get the little ones. I let the broody out a few times a day now with the littles and the other big girls, and they all do really well together. As time goes on, I'll let them together more and more. I love your ideas for the waterers.

    Thanks for the advice!

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