Mama hen rejecting all but one chick?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Apples235, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. Apples235

    Apples235 In the Brooder

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    Nov 20, 2017
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Hi new here, hopefully can get some advice as have had chickens for 5 years now but first time hatching my own chicks (well my broody did). Apologize in advance for the novel!

    Mama hen has recently hatched her first clutch, but I'm wondering if she has bonded with only one of her chicks? First hatched on day 19, thought that was going to be the only one but then the others hatched day 23.
    I went out this morning and mama and eldest chick were at the feeder but the others were all huddled in the back of the nest chirping. They are 3 days old now, had to put them under her last night as she left them out.. She seems really protective of the older one but not the others, will call it and sit on it when I approach but just leaves the others.

    Just wondering if there is anything I can do to help, will she eventually start to mother them? or do I need to intervene and raise the others myself?
     
  2. Hello and welcome to BYC!

    Personally, I would step in and raise them myself. If you wait too long, you might end up with dead chicks.

    Are all of her chicks the same breed as her? Are there any chicks that aren't the same colour as her? I know that I have had broodys reject chicks because they weren't the same colour as she was.

    I recently had a hen who hatched out 11 chicks, and she rejected two, and killed 3. I still don't know why she killed 3, she had raised chicks before and was good at it.
    But, The first day she rejected a chick who had curled toes, and the second chick she rejected was a 'runt'. I tried to re-introduce them to her, but she never wanted them back. I raised them myself. Sometimes broodys will reject chicks that have something wrong with them, too.

    Be careful, a determined broody can really hurt a chick. Unless you are 100% sure that she won't hurt the chicks, I wouldn't risk leaving them with her/re-introducing them to her.
    On a side note, how old is she? I have noticed that young broody hens aren't always as dedicated to raising chicks as the older hens are. For instance, I have a hen who only started laying a month or so ago with two chicks. They have only just fully feathered but they are still small and she mainly leaves them to do what they want now, and only really just protecting them at night. Much different to an older hen (2 or 3 years) who would hold onto her chicks for as long as she could.

    Have you got a brooder? I would suggest taking the chicks (apart from the one she is caring for) off her, especially if she left them out last night.

    Best of luck,

    -Mustang
     
    Apples235 likes this.
  3. Apples235

    Apples235 In the Brooder

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    Nov 20, 2017
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Thanks Mustang. I was afraid that would be the case, wasn't sure if she was truly rejecting them or she was just a bit confused that she had more chicks.

    She is an Black Orp on the young side just under a year, chicks hatched are all Orpingtons - 2 black, 3 blue and 2 splash. She has taken to the blue so I don't think its the colour. :hmm

    So take just the 6 and not the one shes looking after? It won't get lonely once mama decides to join the rest of the flock?
     
    mustangrooster likes this.
  4. Once the mother decides to join the flock again, and the chick has left her, you could put her in with your other chicks. Though, that could go two ways.

    If the flock is introduced to the chicks when they are little that can really help when it comes to integrating. When my chicks are old enough to go outside, I put them in with my main flock, and they are fine. They usually stay away from the older birds, and they soon find their place. So, when your mama hen joins the flock again, her chick and the other chicks can join the flock, too------ Therefore if you are worried about the single chick getting lonely, she will have the other chicks to mingle with.

    That’s what has always worked for me, though, make sure you don’t have any chick- killing chickens.


    So yes, I would recommend taking the chicks from her that she isn't looking after, maybe there is too many for her to handle and she is just happy looking after one.
     
    Apples235 likes this.
  5. Apples235

    Apples235 In the Brooder

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    Nov 20, 2017
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    We still have a couple of old hylines that are bullies, so I was hoping that mama hen would help with the integrating/protecting when introducing them into the flock, which now looks like wont be the case. Currently they're separated, but old flock can still see them.
    Oh well will have to keep a very close eye on them when the time comes, they have loads of space so should be able to keep out of their way!
    Thanks so much for your advice, very much appreciated :)
     
  6. Sounds like you are on track then, that's good that the flock can see them. Good luck! And no problem. :) If you have any more questions, feel free to ask them.
     
    Apples235 likes this.
  7. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma Premium Member

    Did she hatch those younger Chicks?...Hens go from setting to hatching to raising within a 48 hour period..She must not be seeing them as her own Chicks..too bad...Now your going to be Momma...
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road 5 Years

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    Just curious... was it a staggered hatch, or were all eggs set on the same day?
     
  9. Another example of why it is important to store eggs correctly so all the chicks hatch at once. Hens don't do logic, their lives and the lives of their chicks depends on instinct. It is instinctual for all new chicks to, "adopt" as their mama the first large moving thing that they see post hatch. It could be a running lawn mower for all the chicks care. To a large degree the same thing is true with the hen. Evidently to much time has elapsed between the time that the first chick emerged and when the rest of the clutch hatched. Google "imprinting" to learn more.

    I am also unsure if the rejected chicks are not somehow responsible for their own predicament in that they may have imprinted on a different object other than their own natural mother..
     

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