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Need help on where to keep new mom & chicks!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by NewToFarming, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. NewToFarming

    NewToFarming Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am a first time broody hen mom! [​IMG] Two chicks hatched out yesterday. I had covered kitty litter pans for nests and mom chose this to set on. I am unsure on where to keep her and her chicks. I did bring her up to the house last night and kept her in a dog crate. I would like to try to make the transition with the flock as easy as possible so now I am thinking maybe to keep her & the chicks in the crate in the coop with the rest???
    This was a new hen to the flock and she went broody immediately after her arrival. so, really most of the flock didn't really realize she was there this whole time except for a few pullets that hung out in the coop more than outside.
    I am concerned about the roos. I have three roos that can be kind of rough with the girls especially in the mornings for some reason. I am just not sure which way might be the best way. Then I was thinking maybe I should take the chicks away from mom and keep them in a brooder. UGGH! I am think I am making this more difficult than what it should be.
    I would be grateful for any advice on what has worked best for others!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    If the broody was exposed to the flock while she was sitting on the eggs, taking her daily constitutional with the other chickens, the others roosting in the coop where she was setting, things like that, she is probably already be integrated with the flock. I’d let her raise the chicks with the flock so she can handle her babies’ integration. They will still have to handle the pecking order later on their own but that is usually a lot less severe than integration.

    Broodies usually have such a bad attitude that the other chickens soon learn to leave them and their babies alone. It doesn’t always work that way. Some broodies just don’t have the right attitude and some flocks have hens or roosters that are just mean and aggressive. Each chicken has its own personality and each flock has its own dynamics.

    I have had roosters that would mate a broody against her wishes while she was off her nest for her daily constitutional before the eggs hatched. I’ve never seen a rooster force a hen when she was with her chicks, but it is certainly possible. I have seen a broody leave some of her 2 day old chicks in the care of a rooster while she took the rest exploring. I have seen a rooster move in to stay with young chicks that got separated by a fence from mom. In my flock, I worry more about the hens that the roosters as far as them purposely trying to hurt the chicks. Your flock may be different. I’ve also seen 2 week old chicks leave the protection of their mother and mingle with the rest of the flock, hens and roosters, especially at feeding time. I have never seen a hen purposely try to hurt a chick. I have seen a hen peck at a chick, but this was more of a pecking order, that is my food so get away peck, not an attempt to kill the chick. Some hens and some roosters will try to kill unprotected chicks. Mine don’t but as I said, each flock has its own dynamics. I can’t guarantee what will happen with yours and I sure do not recommend purposely letting chicks roam without mom’s protection. That’s flirting with disaster.

    If the broody was totally separated from the rest of the flock during her time of confinement, it is a different situation. I have a lot of room, so I’d still try it, but I’d sure watch closely when I first let then mingle and if they share sleeping quarters, I’d watch as they are going to bed and when they got up. To me, those would be the most dangerous times.

    My broodies usually keep their chicks on the floor of the coop at night. The nests are raised a bit so they don’t try to go back in the old nests. I’m not sure what your broody will want to do.

    Hope this helps a bit. There are always risks in letting a broody raise her chicks with the flock, but there are plenty of risks in separating them too. In my opinion, letting mom handle integration is worth the risks, but it might not work out that way for you.

    Good luck, whatever you decide.
     
  3. 2DogsFarm

    2DogsFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    Ridgerunner - a question for you:

    I have two 2wk old chicks I got for a broody hen who got un-broody when I got "her" babies home [​IMG]
    (she got broody end of June, was still broody 2 weeks ago the Friday I left, I got home Sunday with day-old chicks & she was: "Nope, not broody anymore")

    The chicks are doing fine - living in a 30gal aquarium in the coop.
    I also made them a "playpen" from some stakes & netting so they have spent some of these nice warm days outside.
    My hens freerange and have noticed the chicks both in the coop & outside but have made no threats to them that I have witnessed.

    You say you have seen 2wk old chicks integrate themselves into the flock.
    What can I do to help introduce these babies to my flock?
    No roosters, just 5 hens.

    How about some supervised time outside with the hens in my yard?
    Would the chicks be safe left out in the coop overnight?
    Coop has 2 roosts & one is set at an angle from the floor, so it would be low enough for the chicks to get on.
    The hens don't use this angled roost except sometimes to walk up to the other roost, or their favorite roosting spot: a partition in the coop.

    TIA for any advice
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I would not risk it at 2 weeks. Mine had Mama to teach the other hens to leave them alone. Your hens have not learned that lesson. I don't know your weather but at 2 weeks yours may still need additional heat at night. I'd sure keep 2 week olds safely in a brooder. Mine were not integrated at 2 weeks to where I would trust the other hens without Mama around in a lot of situations, such as locked in a coop when they woke up in the morning. Mine had lots of room to get away when Mama was not in the immediate area. Yours are not even introduced to the flock yet, let alone your girls used to them walking around among them or a pecking order set up. I have had brooder raised chicks fully integrated with my flock at 12 weeks old, to the point I could leave them locked in the coop together with the older ones for a couple of hours in the morning. That went so easy I feel I could have tried it even younger, but how much younger I don't know. I have a pretty laid-back flock with a lot of room. Not everybody does. And while some of my young chicks would kind of intermix with the flock without Mama being right around, they would often seem to suddenly realize "I'm all alone!! Where's Mama!! Mama!! Mama!! Help!!!" and run to Mama as fast as they could. They knew they were not really that safe.

    What I would suggest is that you house your chicks next to your hens where they can see each other but not get to each other. Supervised time out in the yard with the older ones is a great idea. When you actually decide that you are comfortable with trying to let them spend unsupevised time together, the young ones still need either lots of room to get away or a safe place to go that the older ones cannot get to them. Separate feeding and watering places is extremely important. The older ones can completely keep the young ones away from food and water enough to put the young ones at risk or death by thirst or possibly starvation. The food and water areas also will instigate aggression by the older ones if the young ones dare try to come around.

    I absolutely would not consider 2 week olds safe in the coop with the others overnight if they can intermix.

    Do not expect your 2 week olds to try roosting immediaely. Mine brooder raised chicks will play at perching during the day, but they sleep in a pile on the floor until they are 10 to 12 weeks old, then they start roosting on their own. I don't try to force them to roost earlier.

    I'll try to say this very clearly so people maybe don't misinterpret what I am saying. Not everybody has a flock with the individual personalities and combined flock dynamics that I have. Not everybody has the room or set-up that I have. Somebody else can try what I have successfully done and have a disaster. I'm trying to relate what I have done that has worked for me, but I offer no guarantees that it will work for you.

    Good luck!
     
  5. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:The large dog crate is exactly what I use for mom AND babies, but it is placed right next to (or in, if there is room) the main pen from the very beginning so everyone can see and be seen! They stay in there for about the first two weeks. At that time mom and babies are well bonded... babies are a bit bigger and mom is in full protection mode. Let mom handle integration... much easier than for you to do it later (if you decide to separate them). Do you free-range at any time during the day? This would be the time for their first outing. Also, at night, mom and babies get closed back in the crate at night until the time when mom choses to take them in the big pen at night. Good luck with your babies.

    ETA... food and water when put in at night in the dog crate after integration starts so that they FOR SURE get plenty!
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  6. 2DogsFarm

    2DogsFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    Thanks Ridgerunner!

    My chicks are in plain sight inside the coop (glass aquarium is their brooder)
    They have survived several chilly nights inside the coop w/o any lamp for added heat.
    I have the top of the aquarium covered with chicken wire and put a towel over that, plus a fleece baby blanket inside for them to snuggle in.

    Outside the freeranging hens have been free to investigate them inside their "playpen". That is walled & roofed with plastic netting.
    That has ben the arrangement for the past week when I get home from work during the week until near sunset when it begins to cool off & I put the babies back in their tank.
    On the weekends I have left them out for nearly the entire afternoon & no sign that the hens have bothered them as they generally nap in the grass right by the netting.

    Next time I have the time I'll supervise some Together Time when I can scoop up the babies ASAP if anyone seems to be picking on them!
    I may also try letting them roam insidethe coop as I work on setting up separatre quarters in there for them - possibly I can work out something with a cat carrier so only the chicks can get inside it...

    thinking...thinking... <that's the smoke you are smelling>
     
  7. joemwm

    joemwm Out Of The Brooder

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    I make an enclosure for the chicks with food and water and heat if needed in side the coop and start with supervised free ranging with the adults so I'm there to protect the little ones until they learn their place when they learn to stay far enough away from the adults to be safe I make an opening in their pen thats too small for the adults too fit though{3x3" for young ones increasing as needed} so they have a safe retreat at all times
     
  8. NewToFarming

    NewToFarming Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all the great advice!!! I did take the dog crate & put it in the coop today. Actually mom seemed more comfortable back in the coop than in the house. I had let the crate door open while I was right there and the younger pullets were very curious and stood around the crate listening to the little peeps. It was actually kinda cute! No one tried to go in after them at all which is a good sign. The roos just stood listening in the coop but did not go real close to the crate.
    Yes, I do free range during the day but the morning are horrible with the boys! They act plain nuts! LOL What is it about the morning time that they are on their worst behavior? Even before the chicks were hatched, I would kick the boys out of the coop before mom got off the nest to eat and drink. That way she had some peace to do this. I have the covered kitty litter pan she used for her nest inside the the crate and like a little ramp to go up & into the nest in case the little ones got out and couldn't get back in. Hopefully that will help them and they figure out to go up it to get back into the nest. I also put food & water with them in there so I think it should work and I definitely think it will help them integrate easier. Thank you so much!

    Joemwn - That is a really good idea about making a smaller opening that just the little ones can get through to be able to get away if any bigger ones are after them!

    Here is the post with the pics!!! https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=397567
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  9. NewToFarming

    NewToFarming Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Millersburg, PA
    I just wanted to update you guys on how my broody managed her chicks. I had her initally in the dog crate the first day & night and she was OK with that. The next morning she brought them out in the coop. I had kicked everyone out for her first day. That evening, the coop door was open while I was doing their feed etc. and there was a lot of curiosity especially from the younger pullets but everyone seemed OK with mom & her babies. I had put her back into the dog crate with her babies and she freaked out. She wanted no parts of it but did end up settling down with the babies for the night.
    Again she brought them out into the coop again yesterday and seems to prefer to be right smack dab in the middle of the coop so they are basically the center of attraction. I had left her be and there were a few other pullets & hens in with her when I had left for work so I left the coop door open enough for the younger pullets to go out in & out if they had wanted.
    Never would I have imagined that she would take the chicks outside of the coop, but she did! Their coop is inside the barn so she took them out of the coop but kept them in the barn among everyone else and everything was just fine. Here I was a nervous wreck trying to make her be places she didn’t want to be and she knew the right thing to do all along!!!! Everyone got along! She had it covered!!! [​IMG] The cats apparently were ok with them also but she did let them know very directly when they got too close. She laid into the one cat who only got close to get a drink of water because he thinks the chickens water is apparently better than his!
    She is definitely being a great mom & protector and knows how to socialize and who to not let get close to them. I think I will let the chickens be on their own more often because they are proving they know what is best and things work out fine and I need to let them alone and do their thing. Even though I am a nervous wreck!!!
    The little ones are doing great and learning things fast. I am fascinated how they stay with her and run immediately to her when she calls them. I could watch them for hours!!! I don’t know if this would work for everyone but it seems the more I let them figure things out on their own, the better the flock gets along!
     

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