Mother hen won't stop caring for chicks... any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by EggsBeesSeeds, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. EggsBeesSeeds

    EggsBeesSeeds Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi everyone. I am new here and have a question I just can't find an answer to so I thought I would ask the experienced folks here.

    I have been keeping chickens for quite some time now, but have never experienced mothering behavior like I have seen from (strangely enough) my Black copper marans x Ameraucana cross. She has 5 chicks (3 boys, 2 girls, boys are for meat, girls are for laying) are now 11 weeks old and she still will not stop caring for them. This was her first time going broody, so she is a first time mom and she is very young (went broody at 8 months old). She has done an amazing job with her chicks, but doesn't show any signs of separating from them. All of this would be great but I have to keep her and her chicks separated from the rest of the flock because she is so hyper aggressive with the other chickens (including my rooster). They are currently confined to the upper run of my chicken coop (I have one 4x6' coop with an attached lower and upper run. The lower run is 8x10' and is where the established flock resides when not free ranging. The upper run is 6x8' and is where mama and the chicks are confined. The established flock sleeps in the coop at night and mama and the chicks have shelter and a roost that shares a wall with the coop. Everyone can see, hear, smell and interact with each other at all times; the only thing separating them is a wall of chicken wire). I have attempted numerous times to allow mama and the chicks to free range with the rest of the flock but her need to protect her chicks results in serious fights. In the past with other mother hens there has always been enough room for everyone to share free range space and mama and the chicks just kinda do their own thing and everyone leaves them alone, but not with this mom. It seems like if any chicken gets within 20 feet, she attacks. Mama even tries to attack through the chicken wire! (note: strangely enough, she is incredibly docile with me and lets me handle her and her babies regularly)

    So, my question is, has anyone ever had a mother hen that was, well, too motherly? In my experience, usually the mom has fully separated from the chicks by 8-9 weeks and wants to be back with the flock. Am I being too concerned and impatient? Is there a way to get her to leave those chicks alone so I can re-integrate her into the flock without feathers flying? If not, anyone have any tips on a more successful integration? I usually have new pullets integrated into a flock at about 14-16 weeks, and that is my target time for these chicks, as long as mom lets up!

    Thanks everyone!
     
  2. Chick_In_The_Burbs

    Chick_In_The_Burbs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My momma Summer went about 14 weeks or so. I don't even remember exactly, just that she was at it a LONG time. I ended up separating her from three of her babies at 10 weeks. She and the three other chicks were bantams but the three I removed were LF and already bigger than Momma. I put the three I separated in with my Big Girls(3 hens, laying coop), and she could see them distantly but there was about a 10 ft distance between the two coops/runs. She fussed at the fence for a few days and after that she went back to just caring for the three she had left. The three that I moved fussed for longer but then they had been so protected with her they were in shock when they got pecked and chased for trying to take food from the Dominant hen. Seriously, Big Red did that in his first 30 seconds mixed in! :lol:

    They are old enough, any chance you can try introducing the chicks w/o momma? Then add momma back in after a week or two?
     
  3. EggsBeesSeeds

    EggsBeesSeeds Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the info! What ended up happening with your three bantam chicks and mama? Did she eventually ditch them or at least stop protecting them?

    Separating the chicks forcefully is a thought that has crossed my mind before. The only thing that stopped me was my "big girls" coop has 12 chickens, 11 laying hens and one roo... the chicks are still smaller than the other chickens and I would like to make sure they are safe. Perhaps over the weekend when I can supervise I can give it a shot.
     
  4. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    [​IMG]

    I had a very broody hen who was still raising her "chicks" when they were 4 months old already. We split up the happy family when I started selling hens and sold the broody. I can only guess how long she would've kept them if I didn't do that. But that was an exception. Most of the time my broody hens weaned their chicks after 7-10 weeks.
     
  5. Chick_In_The_Burbs

    Chick_In_The_Burbs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Momma wasn't as bad as your lady protective-wise. She had another hen with her who she left alone unless something set her off, like a chick peeping too loudly. I had to stop handling the chicks because of that. I would pick up a chick, it would peep loudly and Summer would go after Pidge. :rolleyes:

    Any case, she stopped mothering her last three a month after the separation, kinda a general and slow weening. She would still call them over to food at about 15 weeks but otherwise they were on their own. Now I am down to just one of her chicks left with her and he will hopefully have a new home by the end of the month.
     
  6. spotsplus

    spotsplus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have an Old English hen that has hatched her own chicks and I've put day olds under her with success. She mothers them until they are about 12-13 weeks old and the chicks decide they want out on their own and go in all different directions with drives mama crazy because she can't keep them all together. Occationally one chick will stick by mom and that chick usually hangs out with mom until 8 or 9 months when the chick finds her own place in the pecking order. :)
     
  7. EggsBeesSeeds

    EggsBeesSeeds Out Of The Brooder

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    Somehow I just knew that when I made this post she was magically going to change her mind about being a mom, and what do you know, it happened. Today she began showing signs of, well, wanting to get the heck away from those chicks. So, problem solved I guess. I'll wait a few more days until she's really ready to go and let her out. Thanks y'all for the suggestions.
     

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