Mean 'ol hens!

mrs1885

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 14, 2013
90
3
41
Van Buren Co, TN
I went out to feed this morning and took some grapes since I'd read on here that chickens love them. While cutting and tossing grapes - which my hens could live with or without
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- I noticed the hens aren't too nice to the chicks. I mean, they're not pecking them to death or anything but when the chicks walk past they'll reach down and tag them with a beak.

I guess I'd kind of hoped that when I brought the hens home that they'd take over mothering the chicks. Wishful thinking I'm sure. I don't really like other people's kids either, so why should they!
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I also noticed that when I put out the hen's layer feed (which I always do first) the hens ran to their dish. But when I put out the starter for the babies, one of my RIR girls ran over and tried to chase the babies away so she could eat it all herself. I chased her back to her dish and played 'hall monitor' so the babies could eat without being harassed, but now I'm wondering if they should be separated?

Part of me is thinking yes because I don't want the babies to not get food, the other part thinks they've got to learn to live together because I'm not wanting to divide the flock all their lives. They've been together for four days now and the babies still seem to be a good healthy weight and are active, so it's not like they're starving, right? And while I do want the flock to stay together now I do hope to have a section eventually just for my breeding hens and roo and another for my layers. I just don't want to have to separate them now because I'm *hoping* I'll get at least one broody girl out of my chicks too and I'd like them in together with the roo.

And any suggestions on other foods they may like? What's good for them, what's just a treat occasionally? Should I give them a good diverse diet? Just seems like they probably get really bored eating the same thing over and over and over. I know I would!
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 3, 2009
117,621
329,939
1,957
New Jersey
How long have the chicks been in with the hens, and how old are they? You might try creep type feeders for the chicks - areas surrounded by wire with large enough openings that the chicks can enter, but the adults can not. If the hens are not causing serious harm to the chicks, I would change nothing except the feeding and watering arrangement.
 

mrs1885

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 14, 2013
90
3
41
Van Buren Co, TN
How long have the chicks been in with the hens, and how old are they? You might try creep type feeders for the chicks - areas surrounded by wire with large enough openings that the chicks can enter, but the adults can not. If the hens are not causing serious harm to the chicks, I would change nothing except the feeding and watering arrangement.
It's been about four days they've been together now. I picked up the hens last Thursday or Friday. The hens are right at a year and the chicks about a month old.

I do have one of those feeders. I'll put it in the room and see if that helps. Maybe I can do a temp divider or a pen for the chicks for feeding. Just put them in there to eat and then open it back up. Hmmmm.......
 

WalkingOnSunshine

Crowing
11 Years
Apr 8, 2008
4,210
516
328
Ohio
Don't forget, those birds need different feeds. Your chicks need the higher protein of chick starter, and the hens need calcium. And too much calcium too young will cause reproductive problems with the chicks once they're older. So put chick starter in your creep feeder.
 

mrs1885

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 14, 2013
90
3
41
Van Buren Co, TN
Don't forget, those birds need different feeds. Your chicks need the higher protein of chick starter, and the hens need calcium. And too much calcium too young will cause reproductive problems with the chicks once they're older. So put chick starter in your creep feeder.
Ok. Kind of figured there was a reason for the different feeds, other than the size. At what age should I switch the babies over to the layer feed? I'll do their afternoon feed in the creep feeder. Thank you!!
 

WalkingOnSunshine

Crowing
11 Years
Apr 8, 2008
4,210
516
328
Ohio
Ok. Kind of figured there was a reason for the different feeds, other than the size. At what age should I switch the babies over to the layer feed? I'll do their afternoon feed in the creep feeder. Thank you!!
Switch them at 18-19 weeks, or a bit sooner if you see a first egg.

You can just switch them over all at once--you don't need to mix the feeds the way you do with dogs.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,830
10,922
636
western South Dakota
You know, this problem might get a bit worse, before it gets better. If I read your post right, you added the older hens to the younger chicks..... so at first, chicken brain wise .... the hens were off their home territory, so therefore, lower on the pecking order, but as they become adjusted and believe that this IS there home, and guess what, I AM bigger than those chicks.... I think the thumping might get worse. Full grown hens to 1 month chicks, is quite a size difference.

I think you might need a picket fence and lots of obstacles so that the chicks can get away from the hens, along with separate water and feed. They won't become one flock until all are full grown. And even when they tolerate each other to live next to each other, they may always have separate groups, it just depends on the chickens.

Anyway, I think you should make extra sure that the chicks can get away and out of reach of those hens, cause I think those hens are going to get meaner for a while.

Mrs K
 

cmoore333

Chirping
6 Years
Jan 28, 2013
105
3
71
I just added two "old ladies" they are three(according to thier previous owner) I put them in with my pullets thst are about 5 months old, but I also have a coop with 2 month olds, and a main coop with 8 hens and 1 rooster.. So several different ages (as all of them free range togther) I found the new hens kind of pick a few disagreements with several of the chickens from all three coops (I just figured its just a bit of them trying to figure out who is in charge or who is the main hen of everyone) my new lady Silver really picked on one of my main hens named Chatty, after a bit of a disagreement during treat time I noticed the two of them stayed away from each other for the rest of the day.. So as long as no one gets hurt I'd let them try to work it out themselves, but if the picking gets to much I'd seperate them..
 

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