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Mama cut chicks lose at 4 wks old ???

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by PetRock, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. PetRock

    PetRock Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 28, 2010
    SF Bay Area, CA
    We had a broody sitting on a wooden egg for 2 1/2 weeks. She would just not give up wanting to be a mama. So we slipped three 1 day old chicks under her at night. She accepted them right away and has been an excellent mama. Our hens free range during the day and Precious took her babies out at 2 days to free range with the flock. She has protected them and taught them all kinds of chicken things. She is our first broody and we have enjoyed watching her with the babies! The other hens give them a quick peck every once in a while when they are annoyed by them but Precious, who is our top hen, quickly puts them in their place. At night, mama and babies have been by choice sleeping in a dog kennel in a secure but blocked off section of the run. The chicks are now 4 wks old and Precious started laying eggs again about 4 days ago. Since she started laying eggs, she has not been the attentive mama that she used to be. She has even been pecking them sometimes when they get too close to her. We have a 1/3 acre yard and she will be way on one side foraging with the flock while her babies are screaming for her by the back door. Then last night, she went into the coop to roost with the other hens. The babies were in the dog kennel so we placed it in the coop and locked them in. This morning, everyone is fine and free ranging together but Precious is not letting the babies be with her at all. I'm sure that all of this is the natural way of things but I am concerned that the babies are so small and run the risk of being picked off by a hawk or neighborhood cat.

    We have another group of eight 8-11 week old chicks that spend their days in the enclosed run and only free range with supervision. We have begun the integration process but don't plan on putting them into the coop at night for another 5-6 weeks. They are a calm group that so far has just stared at the chicks when they encounter them in the yard.

    Would you recommend that I just take the risk and let things continue as they are? Or should I try to integrate the little ones with the teenagers? Or do you think that the little ones should be penned and not allowed to free range? The hens all tolerate them now and, if I separate them, we will have to integrate them again later. I was so hoping that Precious would take care of them for another week or two so they would be bigger before I had to make this decision! [​IMG]
     
  2. shellyga

    shellyga Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 23, 2010
    Milner
    I am in a little bit of a different situation because I have always have chicks of various ages..

    My first broody left her chicks at 3 weeks - at that time, I moved them into the chick area as I was advised by "folks" on here. Catching them was a bit of a challenge so I waited until night..

    I have three mamas right now with chicks from 1-2 weeks old.. waiting to see how the chicks react when the first mama leaves them on their own.. for the most part they have shared mothering to all.. so time will tell.

    If you have a place..I would move them from the flock -- but just my opinion -- and there are people with far more experience that might chime in

    Shelly
     
  3. PetRock

    PetRock Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 28, 2010
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Thank you for the answer! [​IMG] I want to do what's best for them. My broody pen is not very big but they would be secure. How did integration go when it was time for them to go in with the big girls?
     
  4. NanaLantana

    NanaLantana Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 7, 2011
    Lantana, Florida
    If it were me, and I wanted to assure their survival, I'd raise them separately, and integrate when they're all more the same size. It's a lot of trouble - if you can't do the work it takes, you can leave them with the flock, but then you have to make peace with yourself about that decision. Without their mama, they have no one to protect them within the flock - from flock members, or from 'critters'. It all depends on the value you put on those chicks, your time, etc. Make a decision, and agree with yourself that whatever happens, will be OK.

    That's my two cents worth [​IMG]
     
  5. PetRock

    PetRock Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 28, 2010
    SF Bay Area, CA
    Quote:Thank you! I think that separating them is the only decision that I can live with. I just needed to hear someone agree with me. It means a lot of moving around and sharing of spaces during the night and day but I love these three little chicks and want them to survive. They are hatchery speckled sussex and weren't in our plans for chickens this year but they are the cutest little things.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Tawodi

    Tawodi Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 24, 2010
    southern AZ
    for similar reasons, I had to bring in some chicks and be their hen, some from day 1. just put out 9 yesterday to their own fenced area of the run, so the adults can get used to them. next weekend, the last 8 will go in the mini run, for a couple weeks, then get let into the herd. good thing about bringing them inside, is you get more one on one time, can develop a good bond with them, more than one that you would have had if mama raised them. handle them so they get used to you. [​IMG]
     

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