Introducing babies to year-old Hen


9 Years
Mar 10, 2010
In December I lost one of two Hens that I had. Since I was healing from a broken leg and couldn't put my time and energy toward adding to my flock I gave my remaining Hen (Henny) to my neighbor who had a nice flock. Now that I am walking I am ready to begin again. I would like to get Henny back, but I am concerened that I need to find year-old hens to join her. This will be very expensive! My neighbor told me that I can get younger chicks and since I just have one hen she will "mother" the youngsters rather than be aggressive towards them. Does anyone have experience with this?

I need more advice - so here I am!
Glad your back on your feet! What breed is the hen? What breed are you considering for chicks? What I've seen is if a mature bird is in a pen with strange youngsters who are still peeping, they will attach the younger ones. If the younger ones are past the peeping stage and beginning to cluck, it may work with a gradual introduction with the younger ones in a separate pen but clearly in view. They can get used to each other without injury.
I personally would lean towards letting the neighbor keep Henny. It's very "iffy" that your hen will accept the younger ones in a motherly way....she may very well attack them. She could injure them badly or even kill them if they're alot smaller than her. Now, if they're close in size, there may be a chance that, after she shows them who's boss, she'll accept them as her new flock. Henny may be all settled in with the neighbors and like it there........or maybe you could try it and see how she reacts, and if it goes badly, give her back to your neighbor.......

Whatever you decide, good luck! Hope it works out for you,
First things first:
with a warning attached...this place is waaaaay too addictive!

Now, on to your problem. While I've not had this problem myself, having always had a small to moderate sized flock, the rules of introduction still apply regardless of numbers or age.

You need to be able to keep both parties (older mature hen and babies in this case) separate, yet within view of each other. They need to be able to interact, without direct contact, with each other. An ideal set up would include a divided coop whereby the mature hen has her sheltered area and the babies have theirs. Each separated from the other by a chicken wire divide.

Introduction of the babies to this environment first would be preferable, as this would establish ownership of the territory by the younger birds first. Let them be in there for at least a week, prior to introduction of the older hen. Then introduce Henny. Sit back and observe the reactions of both sides. If Henny shows undue aggression, i.e. throwing herself at the barrier, seeking a way around the barrier, pecking through the chicken wire any time one of the chicks approaches to near, you may have an uphill climb on your hands. But, give it a few days. She may relax in time and come to accept the youngsters. In this case, slow, gradual acceptance of the youngsters could be achieved.

On the other hand, if she shows a genuine non-hostile interest in the chicks, she may have a strong mothering instinct. If this is the case, I would recommend introducing just one chick at a time into her side of the enclosure. Again, sit back and observe their reactions. Watch for any hostile body language on either side. Even young chicks can be aggressive and intimidating.
If Henny displays a nurturing attitude, I would still give it a few days before access to the younger birds is granted.

With any age group of chickens, integration of new members to any flock should be done on a slow and gradual basis. The more time that birds have to become accustomed to new introductions, the better. Safeguarding the health and well being of each prospective new flock member is your responsibility. Be prepared though. Some integrations never work out due to the personalities involved. But, since Henny has been with other chickens during your rehabilitation, it's very likely that she will accept new chicks as just another flock to belong to. Just give her time to adjust to the notion.

Good luck and keep us posted on what your decision is and how things work out for you and Henny both! You'll always find folks here who share your love for chickens here. Never hesitate to ask questions, or contribute your thoughts. It's how we all learn to make the world our little feathered friends live in to be a better one. Again, Welcome to BYC!!!

Thank you all so much! I think what I will do - based on all your posts- is get the chicks and leave Henny where she is until the chicks get to be her size. Then, I will introduce her to the new flock under supervision, gradually. If there is a problem I will let her stay with the neighbors. But it would mean so much to me to have her back. She is a very sweet and a bit timid Barred Rock. The other day I went to see her for the first time since I had to give her away (when I broke my leg!). I SWEAR she remembered me. Needless to say I became very attached to her and her sister! I plan on getting a combo of some of the following: Buff O's; Wyandottes; RIR's; and Americauna's - maybe another Barred too.

Thanks again! You are great!
That sounds like the very best of all plans Hennyetal. And absolutely get her some BR's to join her when they're old enough. I've noticed within my own flock that the various breeds tend to stick together while they're out free ranging. It would stand to reason in my mind that Henny would tend to gravitate towards her own kind as well. And besides, who can resist BR's?
They have such great personalities to go along with those good looks. You'll love having BO's as well. Of all of my breeds, to this day they are my number one favorite. They're usually very sweet natured, patient and will often go broody for you. The hens are just natural born mommies!

I have but one Wyandotte at the moment, and that is my rooster, Griffin. He's a total sweetie pie! Gentle with his girls, and respectful of me. We're still working on being cuddly.
You might want to give Light Brahma's try as well, if you're looking for a nice big bird. They're reasonably good layers and are gentle giants. Another breed you might want to consider are Golden Sex Links. (Also sold under the name of Red Stars, Red Sex Links, etc) They're a very hearty breed. They're inquisitive and curious by nature, and quite friendly. I've always enjoyed the company of mine.

Sure hope you'll post some pictures when you do get your flock all together. We love to see pics of other peoples flocks!

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