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Need help integrating Broody Raised Chicks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kharmon320, May 7, 2016.

  1. kharmon320

    kharmon320 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I asked on a different thread, but wanted to start a new thread to respect the other poster.

    I have 7 chicks that hatched 6-7 days ago. My wyandotte is being a fantastic broody, but our first attempt at integration didn't go very well. I only have 2 other hens: An Ameraucana (who was the lowest in pecking order) and an Easter/Olive Egger who is usually pretty laid back but not bottom of pecking order. I will attach photos of the setup as suggested by @aart

    [​IMG]

    Outside view looking into the run. The main coop is in background. This is all a dog kennel which we framed up, has roof, etc. Bottom 2 feet is hardware cloth with hardware cloth bent and buried in ground. I don't think they can escape from the big run. The broody box/run is in the foreground. It has a box in back which Rosemary used to incubate and hatch the eggs. So, the other 2 have seen/heard the chicks since day 1. When I let them out earlier today, Ginger (Ameraucana) was very aggressive to the chicks. I intervened after she pecked one of the chicks, but Rosemary didn't really defend them. She tried to position herself in between, but she wasn't aggressive at all like I had anticipated. I ended up locking Ginger/Olive in the main coop to allow Rosemary and her babies to check out the run. The chicks have a hiding place, but only on this side of the coop. They get in between the broody box/run and the outer fence. The other hens cannot fit in the space, but they don't have a central hiding spot or "Panic room".

    Here's another pic from inside the run:

    [​IMG]

    If I have a panic room, Rosemary wouldn't be able to fit in it.

    I tried again later with just Olive in the run. She didn't really seem to notice them much at first, but after a few minutes of scratching she chased one and pecked it. Rosemary didn't really do much. I guess my main issue is she isn't aggressively protecting them. She never pecked me during incubation or hatching, etc. Suggestions?

    Here's a chick photo just for fun:

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    A lot depends on the peck. Mine are getting close to two weeks old, have been hatched within the flock, and this morning, they were crawling under all the layers, as everyone was sure they were starving to death. Once in a while they got a mind your manners peck, but no one paid too much attention to them other than that.

    However, I have had chicks in the flock now for several years, and really, I think they think it is normal? Part of me thinks a chicken cannot remember that long, but all of them are like, "Hmph, look what Speckles brought in?!"

    Generally, if the layer just pecks the chick, and the chick should run off towards the broody hen and other chicks. Generally mine have always positioned themselves as you describe between the flock and the chicks. But often chicks get curious and wander away.

    My question is, did you have to remove the chick from the other bird, was the chick damaged? If not, it was probably a mind your manners peck. While hard to watch, it does teach the chick to keep some space between them and that dragon.

    A pallet up on a single row of cement blocks worked well with mine last year. The chicks could easily slip underneath, and while it was not impossible, it was slower going so a chick could out run them. I often put feed there too at first, to make sure they got it.

    My vote is put everyone together, if it gets rough, you chase the chicks to the hideout, so they realize they can get away. I am a big believer in a broody in the flock, but a lot of people can't take it.

    Mrs K
     
    2 people like this.
  3. kharmon320

    kharmon320 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the response!

    No. The chick did not seem damaged. It was more her aggressiveness that bothered me. It's like she was after them just to hurt them. I know, I may be reading way too much into chicken behavior.

    Great idea about the pallet on blocks. I can do that today. I've also thought about making an entrance into the broody box/run that only the chicks could fit it, but that means momma wouldn't fit either. It's supposed to be in the 90's next week, so I would think they should be okay if they hide in the broody box and mom isn't there to keep them warm. Am I correct that outdoor, broody raised chicks acclimate much quicker?

    Thanks,
    Kerrie
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    That's a great setup and great details on the situation.

    Mrs. K makes some good points.

    I'd consider alternating time in the run between the broody/chicks and the other 2 birds.
    Then also try having them all out there together....as long as the chicks are not bloodied and/or relentlessly pursued, pinned down, and beaten....just observe and let it play out.

    Try that scenario for a week or two...or three, the chicks look to be less than a week old(?)......
    .....if the chicks are still being hurt and/or pinned and mama isn't protecting them, then you could turn the broody coop into a chick respite/panic room.


    Another thought, for now or later....you could make a temporary chicken wire wall and split that whole enclosure.
    Couple of 2x2's with chicken wire attached, wire/clip/hook between the chain link walls....
    ...or just a piece of 2x4 fencing.
     
  5. kharmon320

    kharmon320 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the response @aart !

    The chicks are all one week. Some hatched the 30th, others the 1st. Love the suggestions about splitting the run with wire. Is chicken wire small enough so the chicks won't get their heads stuck? Please don't laugh at that question. Everytime we build something I imagine the worst possible scenario. It's the same reason the entire outside of the dog fence panels are covered with the black plastic netting. I kept thinking they would try to escape through the holes and I'd come home to dead birds.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Not laughing, I'm a WCSer too....and chicks can indeed get themselves into trouble.
    Anything is possible.....the chicken wire is cheap and should be OK but it is flimsy and hard to keep tight along bottom edge.
    1/2" hardware cloth would be best...... 1x2 welded wire fence is another pretty good option.

    I lost a chick to head stuck in wire, pushed thru and couldn't get back out.....had chicken wire inside 2x4 welded wire, made for some small holes where they met in places.
     
  7. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    When I had hens brooding chicks it was in a dog kennel. Worked perfect. The chicks if not wanting to be near the other hens would walk through the holes in chain link. Come back in when wanting mom. The best part of having a broody is that it's hands off raising. Fun to watch too but the benefit is no incubating no brooding and no grow out pen to deal with. The broody does all the work all we need to do is ensure they've a panic area. I like the pallet idea too.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I’m not laughing either. I had a grown chicken get caught between layered 2x4 wire and chicken wire when I didn’t close off the end well enough. It’s not just chicks that can get themselves into situations. And those little chick lives do become precious.

    I’m a big proponent of letting a broody hen raise the chicks with the flock. I’ve never lost a chick doing that. I have a lot more room than you do but I think you should have enough.

    Different broodies provide different levels of protection. I’ve had some that keep the chicks right with them, don’t let them roam much at all. These often will attack any other hen that even gets close to her babies, especially the first couple of weeks. I’ve had some that are much more laid back and allow the chicks to roam a lot and intermingle with the rest of the flock. Sometimes I see Mrs. K’s scenario where a chick invades the private space of a hen and gets pecked. The chick runs back to Mama as fast as its little legs can take it. Mama generally ignores all this, but if that hen tries to follow the chick, she promptly whips butt.

    I hardly ever have a hen that goes out of her way to attack a baby chick. I’ve had a few but very few. What I’ve never had is a broody that would not protect her chicks if another hen threatened them. It usually doesn’t take Mama long to teach these other hens to leave her babies alone.

    I realize some of this may be in the eye of the beholder but from what you are saying you seem to have the worst of both worlds, an aggressive other hen and a meek broody that won’t fight to protect her babies. I’ve never been in that situation.

    I really like the idea of partitioning the run. Chicken wire comes with different size holes. Maybe there is another type of inexpensive wire with smaller mesh you can use down low. Whatever you use bend it to make an apron so they cannot get under it. That should seal the bottom. I’d keep them separated at least a week before you tried it again. Maybe by that time the novelty for the other hens will have worn off and it will work better. You’ll just have to play it by ear.

    A word of warning. Usually your biggest time of risk is after a broody hen weans her chicks. At some point she will stop taking care of them and rejoin the other hens. I’ve had hens do that as early as three weeks, some at more than nine weeks. At that point the chicks have to make their own way with the flock. Normally they do this by forming a sub-flock, hanging around but keeping a distance from the other adults. The adults can be pretty vicious when the chicks invade their personal space, but by this time the chicks should have learned to not do that. And the adults should be used to the chicks and not go out of their way to attack. Again I’ve never lost a chick during this phase, but this may be when a safe haven really helps. And provide separate feeding and watering stations so they chicks don’t have to challenge the adults to eat and drink.

    I wish you luck. I think so far you’ve been hit with a bit of bad luck but that is due to change.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. kharmon320

    kharmon320 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, Rosemary defended them today, but Ginger is still being extremely aggressive towards Rosemary and the chicks. It reminds me of a hen that is chasing prey. But, this is also about the pecking order between Ginger and Rosemary. She came towards Rosemary/chicks and then proceeded to try to stand on Rosemary. They went at it! I'm not sure who won that battle. Rosemary used to be top bird, but I know she's been separated. Olive actually pecked Ginger while the two were fighting and she's been okay with the chicks, so I don't think she will be a problem. Rosemary puffed up and Olive backed off.

    So, here's my backup plan. What if I put Ginger in the broody box? It would change her rank in the pecking order and might calm her down a bit.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I'd wait it out, it might actually be over......keep trying to get them all together a couple times a day.

    I had 3 vicious broody fights when I put her and her chicks back with the flock.
    She had been middle of the pack before and had to stand up to 3 different hens over the feeder.
    Rooster couldn't break up the fights, I had to when blood flew. Chicks were never in danger tho.
    It was never apparent who 'won', but broody certainly enjoyed her new power status and was quite the feinting aggressor from then on.
     

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