Integrating mama hen and single chick back into flock

Amy_in_WV

In the Brooder
Jun 23, 2020
16
29
44
I have a flock of 16 chickens...all less than a year old. We bought them as chicks last spring. We have 12 hens and 4 roosters (3 old english bantam hens and 1 rooster, 1 silkie rooster, 2 bantam cochin hens, 1 standard cochin rooster, 7 Isa brown hens and a RIR rooster). They were all raised together and get along fine. One of my cochin hens (Goldie) went broody in December. We hoped she'd give up when we kept taking her eggs, but she didn't, so we let her sit on a clutch of eggs. Only 1 hatched. That chick is 2 weeks old today. We built a little cage in the coop to separate the mama and her eggs about a week before the chick hatched. Mama desperately wants out of this separated space. I read in another thread that trying to integrate a single chick is extremely difficult, even with the mama hen. I did a little test run today...I let all of the chickens, except for one hen, out to free range and then let mama and baby out into the main area of the coop with the single hen. Mama is definitely protective of the chick. When Minnie accidently got too close to the chick, Goldie laid into her. (Poor Minnie had no idea what she'd done wrong. Lol)
The poster in the other thread recommended keeping the mama and chick separated from the rest of the flock until the chick was nearly full grown.
Do you all agree with this?
 

50-45-1

Free Ranging
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Feb 25, 2008
2,464
7,827
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Northern Michigan (tip of the little finger area)
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No, I dont agree.
Let them out now. Broody will protect that chick. Be watchfull for the first couple days to make sure she can stand up against everyone.
Four roosters probably will become your next problem. They are under a year old now, but things change when they mature, grow spurs and start competing for hens.
Hopefully your chick isnt a roo too !
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
26,763
18,607
857
Southeast Louisiana
I see a couple of different issues here. I let my hens hatch with the flock and raise the chicks with the flock from Day 1. I have never lost a chick to another adult flock member. I had a two week old chick kill a sibling. They hatched together, the hen raised them together, then stood by as one chick killed the other. Nothing to do with the rest of the flock.

One time I had a bunch of 8 week old chicks locked up and a baby chick accidentally got in their pen. They killed it. The broody hen could not get in there to protect it. If they had all been ranging together the broody hen would have protected her chick. That was my fault for having the 8-week-olds locked up and leaving a way the chick could get in there.

I've had other experiences but have never lost a chick because the mother hen would not protect it if she could. I think it is important that the broody hen has a fair amount of room to work. Yours free range so she would have room.

Your problem just might be that you only have one chick. At some point the broody hen will wean her chick. No one knows when. I've had hens wean their chicks as young as three weeks of age. I've had some go for over two months. When they wean their chicks they leave them totally alone to manage their way with the flock. Even my three week old ones manage quite well. Again, I have a lot of room, I am convinced that helps a lot.

But I always have more than one chick, I think four is the fewest I've ever had. Chickens are social animals, they do not like being alone. When your chick is weaned it will be alone. Often the other chickens want nothing to do with an immature chick. You see those posts on this forum, people have a lone chick and it is by itself, I saw one just a few days ago. There are exceptions to everything. Sometimes this doesn't happen but it is fairly common. Can the chick survive on its own? Yes, they can and do. Will the chick ever join the flock? Yes, when it matures enough. Can you stand to watch that chick be lonely? It's not always easy. Is it guaranteed that the lone chick will be isolated? No it is not guaranteed. I cannot tell you what will happen.

Personally I'd let the hen raise the chick with the flock. Let her spend between now and when she weans it teaching the rest of the flock to leave her baby alone. It is possible it will be able to join the flock. That has happened, even when it is pretty young. It should be OK by itself hanging round the periphery of the flock. It may not be real happy hanging around but it should be OK until it matures enough to join the flock. If you keep it separated after the hen weans it, then it will be alone any way. Plus, if you keep them separated until the hen weans the chick you have to reintegrate that hen. You'll have to manage two integrations, the hen now and the chick when it grows up. If you let the broody hen raise her chick with the flock then she will already be integrated when she weans it.

I can't give you any guarantees that this will work. You'll have to monitor and see how it goes. You may have to isolate that chick anyway when it is weaned. But this is the way I'd try it.

Good luck!
 

Amy_in_WV

In the Brooder
Jun 23, 2020
16
29
44
Thank you all so much for the feedback. I'll try turning everyone out to free range tomorrow and see how things go. I'll be around to intervene if things go too badly. I'm also hoping the chick isn't a cockerel. I know having 4 roosters right now is pressing my luck. I just figured for as long as they're all getting along, they could all stay. If we start having problems, I'll thin them out.
 

Amy_in_WV

In the Brooder
Jun 23, 2020
16
29
44
Ridgerunner, do you think the mother hen would accept another chick or two if I bought some from Rural King?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
26,763
18,607
857
Southeast Louisiana
Some hens will take any chick but most will not adopt a two week old. They tend to imprint at a pretty young age. That works both ways, the hens imprint on the chicks and the chicks imprint on the hen. If you'd tried that right after hatch I'd have expected it to work, but not now.

But you never know. It could work. If you try, watch very closely and be ready to raise them yourself. You can try it, but get at least two as you will probably be integrating them yourself further down the road. I understand why you'd try but you may just be complicating it more. I personally would not try.
 

Amy_in_WV

In the Brooder
Jun 23, 2020
16
29
44
That makes sense. I figured it was probably too late to introduce a new chick to her, but I'm new to this so I thought I'd ask. I don't think I'll try it. I'll just cross my fingers and hope that my flock won't make this little guy/girl's life too rough.
 

WaZelda

Songster
Mar 29, 2020
83
175
101
Puyallup, WA
I see a couple of different issues here. I let my hens hatch with the flock and raise the chicks with the flock from Day 1. I have never lost a chick to another adult flock member. I had a two week old chick kill a sibling. They hatched together, the hen raised them together, then stood by as one chick killed the other. Nothing to do with the rest of the flock.

One time I had a bunch of 8 week old chicks locked up and a baby chick accidentally got in their pen. They killed it. The broody hen could not get in there to protect it. If they had all been ranging together the broody hen would have protected her chick. That was my fault for having the 8-week-olds locked up and leaving a way the chick could get in there.

I've had other experiences but have never lost a chick because the mother hen would not protect it if she could. I think it is important that the broody hen has a fair amount of room to work. Yours free range so she would have room.

Your problem just might be that you only have one chick. At some point the broody hen will wean her chick. No one knows when. I've had hens wean their chicks as young as three weeks of age. I've had some go for over two months. When they wean their chicks they leave them totally alone to manage their way with the flock. Even my three week old ones manage quite well. Again, I have a lot of room, I am convinced that helps a lot.

But I always have more than one chick, I think four is the fewest I've ever had. Chickens are social animals, they do not like being alone. When your chick is weaned it will be alone. Often the other chickens want nothing to do with an immature chick. You see those posts on this forum, people have a lone chick and it is by itself, I saw one just a few days ago. There are exceptions to everything. Sometimes this doesn't happen but it is fairly common. Can the chick survive on its own? Yes, they can and do. Will the chick ever join the flock? Yes, when it matures enough. Can you stand to watch that chick be lonely? It's not always easy. Is it guaranteed that the lone chick will be isolated? No it is not guaranteed. I cannot tell you what will happen.

Personally I'd let the hen raise the chick with the flock. Let her spend between now and when she weans it teaching the rest of the flock to leave her baby alone. It is possible it will be able to join the flock. That has happened, even when it is pretty young. It should be OK by itself hanging round the periphery of the flock. It may not be real happy hanging around but it should be OK until it matures enough to join the flock. If you keep it separated after the hen weans it, then it will be alone any way. Plus, if you keep them separated until the hen weans the chick you have to reintegrate that hen. You'll have to manage two integrations, the hen now and the chick when it grows up. If you let the broody hen raise her chick with the flock then she will already be integrated when she weans it.

I can't give you any guarantees that this will work. You'll have to monitor and see how it goes. You may have to isolate that chick anyway when it is weaned. But this is the way I'd try it.

Good luck!
Fantastic answer. I enjoyed reading that.
My favorite thing about broodies is seeing them introduce their chicks to the flock for the first time. they can go from cooing at their babies to full on ninja chicken faster than you can blink :)
 

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