New mother hen behavior???

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by chickyboomboom, Apr 22, 2012.

  1. chickyboomboom

    chickyboomboom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2011
    Hello! I had a girl go broody on me over 3 weeks ago, so late last night we put 4 baby chicks under her. She layed on them all night and seemed to be doing a decent job keeping them warm.

    My question now is, how is a mother hen supposed to behave? I am not sure if she's a good mommy or not. She will leave them behind to go dirt bath and poo when I open the pen. She runs out and abandones them! But she still does her broody calls. Today I thought she was going to go back to her babies after her outing, but she went into the coop and upper nest box instead. So I'm totally confused! I took her down and locked her in the pen with the babies. She pecked at them and got them all together in the corner. I thought she was going to sit on them, but instead she sat in front of the pen away from the chicks....

    Is she going to lay an egg?? It's been several weeks since she last layed as far as I know.

    Also, how long can a mother leave her babies before I should worry? I really didn't want to hand raise these chicks. It's been in the mid 60s here so not too terribly cold, but not warm either.

    Any advice would be so much appreciated. I don't want the babies to suffer or die, but I'm not sure if their adoption mom is doing her job! I thought it would be easy to "let nature take its course" but I'm a basketcase!
  2. chickyboomboom

    chickyboomboom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2011
    me again, okay, so went to check again and "mother hen" is pecking at the chicks. Do mother hens do this? Is this a normal behavior just to get them in line? I'm so freaked out!

    She pecked at them and put them all in the corner, then went to lay down away from them. It's starting to get dark so we put the babies under her again... seemed to be okay, but we'll check again soon. It's starting to get cold. I so didn't want to hand raise the babies. I wanted my broody to do it, hoping it would also be easier to integrate the new girls into the flock...but I'm starting to think she's a mean mommy. I have to work tomorrow so I won't be able to watch them. I'm so worried I'll come home to dead chicks.
  3. AZ_HenHouse

    AZ_HenHouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 2, 2011
    Someone with more experience might be more helpful, but I don't thik she has bonded with them. Sounds like you are going to have to raise them.
    My broody only pecked at the ones that she did not accept (granted I put them under her several days after hers hatched). I would be ready with a back up plan if she continues to act as if she does not want them.
    I put 2 chicks under her one night and she was fine all night but in the morning she moved her babies and left the new one. Then pecked at it when she noticed it. She still tries to go after them if she sees them out with me, although it is getting less and less as they get older.

    Good luck
  4. Chemguy

    Chemguy Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 30, 2011
    Springfield, Ohio
    I've only been through this situation once, and the mother took to the babies. She did not peck them, and if she left the coop to take care of business she went right back in. While I could understand the choice of a different nest, it's the pecking that has me thinking she is not willing to continue raising the chicks, or is at least 'thinking' about moving on. Others with more experience will perhaps be able to provide better insight.
  5. CorinneP

    CorinneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2012
    Up State New York
    I Do Not believe she has accepted them or wants to mother them . I Don't think I would leave them, I Have a broody Hen with Chicks right now one that she adopted I tried two introduce two nearly identical chicks to her at the same time one she took right in the other she pecked and would not allow near her I had to remove it immediately. When They have accepted The chicks they curl right up with them the chicks will sit on her back and or crawl right under her .. You can watch momma lift a wing and they will run right under and cuddle up. When its cold she will shew them all together and then offer them the warmth of her body .. I am in NY so I also still have a heating lamp on one end of their special area, and I have noticed on a beautiful hot day she lets them run and is up and about more.. cold and rainy they will all be huddled with her. This same Hen after Hatching some chicks seemed to know something was wrong with one while carrying beautifully for two others she rolled this freshly Hatched limp chick out to a cold area.. I happened to see it with in minutes so I rushed it in the house gave it some TLC over night where the Chick bounced back. I reintroduced them in the early morning and she took the baby right back in : ) I think once you see how loving and attentive they usually are you would be able to spot when they aren't being Maternal enough .. [​IMG]
  6. wowmanacat

    wowmanacat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 1, 2011
    Oak Grove AR
    I am so glad to have found this post. I have two broody hens, but only one is on eggs since the other one keeps leaving the eggs. Some should be hatching Wednesday, I am hoping that I will be able to put some of them under the hen that is not setting on any eggs but am not sure if that will work. Something else I am worried about is some of the nest boxes are off the ground a bit.
    I do not have a place to put just the momma with the new babies so they are all in the same coop as the rest of my hens. I really was not ready for broody hens are the fact that I had 31 eggs hatch out of 48, plus the fact that I am moving in around 30 days.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I agree it sounds like they have not bonded. I think you are stuck raising them yourself. I've never had that happen. Sorry!

    A hen will occasionally peck her chick to help keep it in line, kind of a discipline peck. But it is not a vicious hard trying-to-kill peck. It can be a little hard to tell the difference, but I guess I'd look at if she repeats the pecking a lot. It's not just the pecking that makes me think they have not bonded. It's her not covering them.
  8. chickyboomboom

    chickyboomboom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2011
    oh so sad, I think you are all right! Woe is me, my plan backfired! And now that I know that Madison is a bad mommy, and a crazy broody, it might be time to put her up on craigslist. She has disrupted the whole flock! And since she's been broody, the other girls pick on her now, so she now has no allies. At least the kids will be happy that we'll have the chicks in the house. Not me though! More work for me! Thanks so much for all the helpful info. I have heard that seeing a good mommy with her babies was a beautiful thing to see. I haven't been seeing a warm caring mother. She seems more annoyed!
  9. Kanga77510

    Kanga77510 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2009
    Santa Fe, TX
    If you have time, you can break the broody-ness from her. My DH did it last year with a couple of our girls. He just filled a 5 gallon bucket with water from the hose. He dunked the chickens a few times a day until they stopped sitting on the nests. Broodiness is trigger by an increase in the chicken's body temp. If you cool off the chicken, she will stop being broody. It works like a charm.
  10. onebigglo1

    onebigglo1 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 4, 2011
    I wouldn't say she was a bad mommy. You didn't say if she had been setting on fertile eggs or any eggs for that matter. She may just know they are not her babies and doesn't want anything to do with them. I set fertile eggs under a broody hen that didn't lay fertile eggs and she hatched out 4 chicks. She is the best mother hen I've ever seen! And to the other person with no where to put the mother hen and chicks, a large dog kennel works great! My mother hen takes them back in to bed at night and I close the door to keep them all safe.

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