Mother hen abandoning chicks at night???? NEED HELP ASAP!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by 77horses, May 24, 2010.

  1. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    [CONFIDENTIAL]
    Help! I have a young 3.6 month old rooster named Ivory, a small Bantam Cochin hen named Pumpkin, and Pumpkin is currently taking care of 3 chicks that she hatched out. She has been a great mother to them; finding food for them, keeping them warm at night by letting them snuggle under her in the pet carrier (which is their temporary nest box), etc...Basically anything a mother hen would do with her chicks. And they follow her everywhere. The chicks are now a little over 1 week old. They are just beginning to grow wing feathers now and are getting bigger, but are still small. I don't think they are ready to fend for themselves, obviously.
    While Pumpkin has always slept in her pet carrier nest box with her baby chicks under her ever since they hatched, just tonight when I went to put them to bed, Pumpkin was instead roosting on the coop's perch nearby Ivory (whom she always bosses around and pecks at, so I doubt the reason why she's roosting on the perch is to roost next to him [​IMG]). Her baby chicks were standing together in a nearby corner of the 3x4 coop, peeping and looking up at Pumpkin, obviously confused because they are still way too small to jump up on the perch with her. It's going to be fairly warm tonight, around 50ºF. at the lowest I think. I have a small light in the coop and I lowered it so the chicks can get close to it for warmth if needed.
    But I'm worried that they'll get cold because they're still too young to fend for themselves. Being in a brooder box with a light is different; all they have is the small coop light and each other to snuggle with (and it's nice and insulated in the coop). Will they be OK without Pumpkin to stay warm under? And why is she just abandoning them? I took her down from the perch and put her in the nest box; her chicks followed, but she immediately walked back out instead of going to the back and letting the chicks go under her like she usually does. I even placed her in the two unused milk carton nest boxes, but she rejected all of them. [​IMG] I watched for a little while and eventually she flew back up to the perch to roost, leaving her chicks on the coop floor again.
    I'm really worried that they won't be warm enough tonight and they just seem so vulnerable without her. And it makes me sad because they obviously want to jump up on the perch with Pumpkin, but they're just too small.
    All of them are in good health. Everything is normal, and Pumpkin has never abandoned them like this before; especially at night. All today she was leading them around in the outside run, showing them how to take dust baths and scratch around for food in the leaves, etc. And now she seems to not worry about leaving them alone at night. [​IMG]
    Any thoughts?
    Thanks! [​IMG]


    ***I really need an answer ASAP if possible because it's already dark out and I hate going out during the dark especially when the coop is already locked up...I don't have very much time because I need to decide what to do with the chicks. Leave them outside in the coop and hope they're OK or bring them inside in a brooder box??? Bringing them inside would be a real pain because the brooder box got left out in the rain and it's dark out, etc. [​IMG] I'm just scared to leave the poor little babies out there by themselves! Well, not completely by themselves, but without a mother hen to snuggle under for warmth...only a small light bulb. [​IMG]***

    Pictures: (taken today)
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    [​IMG]

    Like I said, they're still just tiny babies right now and have barely started to feather out on their wings, so I really doubt they're ready to be out on their own, especially if it drops to around 50ºF tonight.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  2. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    [CONFIDENTIAL]
    Anyone??? [​IMG]


    *UPDATE: Well I need to go to bed now, I don't know what to do with the poor babies out there...I don't know why Pumpkin is leaving them to fend for themselves and so I don't know how to react to it. Is she abandoning them too early because she's a first-time mother? Or does she know they will be fine on their own? Or is she trying to teach them to roost on the perch??? Should I consider her to be not a very good mother hen to care for chicks, take them in and switch them to a brooder box and put the mother hen back with her flock??? I really don't want to separate her from them but I honestly don't know what to do and it's getting late. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2010
  3. SPRING CREEK FARM

    SPRING CREEK FARM Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2009
    Vanleer,TN
    [​IMG] Hmmmm.....at only a week of age, they are too small to have to fend for themselves trying to keep warm tonight. If it is not possible to somehow put Pumpkin in an enclosed area with her chicks where she cannot get out, then you will just have to gather the chicks together and brood them inside for the night. As long as the temps are still low in the evenings, those little ones still need a lot more warmth. If left to themselves, they will most likely huddle together and very likely one of them could get suffocated in the process. When you try to place Pumpkin in the nestbox with her chicks, is there something you could use to keep her in and do you think she would harm her babies if she could not get out? She has otherwise been a good mother and maybe she is just a bit confused...keep me posted, ok? [​IMG]
     
  4. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    [CONFIDENTIAL]
    Quote:Thanks! And yes, her original nest box is a pet carrier so it has a caged door that locks in front...I will put her and the chicks in that for tonight. Thanks again for the response! [​IMG]
     
  5. Terri O

    Terri O Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sorry I didnt see this until now...I had a hen do that and I just locked her up in the carrier and put a perch across inside...they all jumped up and sat together on the stick. (I was going to say that they will be fine because it is really HOT but I forgot this wasnt the WI board...yes we are still in the 80s at 8:30 pm!) All my chickens want to stay outside tonight but I have a marauding fox! I hope it turns out OK for you babies--they are adorable! Terri O
     
  6. SPRING CREEK FARM

    SPRING CREEK FARM Chillin' With My Peeps

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    6
    119
    Jun 11, 2009
    Vanleer,TN
    [​IMG] You are more than welcome and I hope and pray that Pumpkin and babies will do just fine!! More than likely, once she finds that she cannot get out of the carrier, she will settle down for the night and those 3 little babies will scurry about and settle around Mama. You may have to do this for awhile, at least until the chicks are 4-6 weeks old and fully feathered. If this is Pumpkin's first hatch, then it is understandable being as this motherhood thing is completely new to her. Best of luck!! [​IMG]
     
  7. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    [CONFIDENTIAL]
    Thanks to both of you! [​IMG] [​IMG] Just went outside and checked on them...Pumpkin had jumped back down and was setting on the babies in a corner of the coop, but I put them all in the pet carrier anyway for the night and I think she will settle down eventually. I think she may confused because she's a Bantam and the chicks are standards, so they must seem a little big to her, so maybe she think they're old enough to be on their own?? [​IMG] I don't know, but it's funny to think that they will probably be much bigger than her when they get a little older! [​IMG]
     
  8. SPRING CREEK FARM

    SPRING CREEK FARM Chillin' With My Peeps

    392
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    Jun 11, 2009
    Vanleer,TN
    [​IMG] Yeah, they probably will outgrown their mom! I just had one of my sweet Silkie hens hatch out 2 peachicks yesterday and you can only imagine how much bigger a peachick is over a silkie chick! But when I got home from work this evening, Mama and babies all cuddled up doing just fine. BTW. the Silkie hen is black and the 2 peachicks are white! [​IMG]
     

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