Please share your experience with broody raising chick(s)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by buckabucka, May 23, 2011.

  1. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is my first time with a broody, and she has only one chick she is raising. How long does the mama hen take a role in raising the chick?

    Here is my issue: I have other chicks the same age as this one in a brooder, which I will be integrating with the rest of the flock when they are about 16 weeks old. I would like to put the lone chick in with the others that are her age at some point. I had planned to let mama integrate the single chick into the flock, but despite the mama's best efforts to defend it, the chick was injured by another hen and I am keeping them separate for now. At some point, does the mama hen leave the chick on it's own, or will she be sticking by it's side for many, many weeks? I can't figure out how I will blend them all into the same flock.

    I appreciate any advice!
     
  2. tessa123123

    tessa123123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 17, 2010
    Hi,
    first answer:
    my broody hen told her brood to leave her alone when they were 6 weeks old.

    Second answer:

    I had 2 older hens and they took months to accept new chickens into the fold.
    Older chickens see any new chickens as intruders and will peck it to death if given the oppurtunity, expecially if they are very young.
    The older the new chickens are, and the more they have got used to each other, say from the other side of a wire fence, then it is sometimes just to establish pecking order.
    I managed to integrate younger chicks to older chicks but the age difference was not that great at the time, about a few months.
    I also bred 3 separate batches of chicks within weeks of each other, and gradually put them together for a few mins at a time to let them get to know each other before finally integrating them completely.

    I have also got a broody with young chicks and chicks hatched in an incubator and I am currently in the process of putting them under the broody at dead of night for her to continue with the upbringing.
    Yesterday, she had 4 yellow chicks under her, and this morning she woke up with 4 yellow ones and a black one, and never batted an eyelid!
     
  3. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi buckabucka,

    my 2c worth is... As soon as the solo chick is feathered up (this can be as early as 4 weeks with some breeds but more often 6 weeks) she/he can go with the other chicks, and the hen can go back with the flock. It's best to do this on neutral ground, i.e. put both chick groups together in a new pen to minimise squabbles. But even then most chicks at that age are pretty comfortable meeting newcomers. For obvious reasons don't be tempted to put the hen in with her chick for protection; she'll kill the others.

    I've recently done the above with my malay x hen, and her 8 chicks — they 8 have now been mingled with the 3 that were raised artifically (which she earlier rejected). For about 2 days the chicks and the broody pined for one another, then they pretty much forgot each other.

    Chicks are much easier to integrate that adults... Good luck with it.

    cheers,
    Erica
     
  4. tessa123123

    tessa123123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 17, 2010
    Hi,
    first answer:
    my broody hen told her brood to leave her alone when they were 6 weeks old.

    Second answer:

    I had 2 older hens and they took months to accept new chickens into the fold.
    Older chickens see any new chickens as intruders and will peck it to death if given the oppurtunity, expecially if they are very young.
    The older the new chickens are, and the more they have got used to each other, say from the other side of a wire fence, then it is sometimes just to establish pecking order.
    I managed to integrate younger chicks to older chicks but the age difference was not that great at the time, about a few months.
    I also bred 3 separate batches of chicks within weeks of each other, and gradually put them together for a few mins at a time to let them get to know each other before finally integrating them completely.

    I have also got a broody with young chicks and chicks hatched in an incubator and I am currently in the process of putting them under the broody at dead of night for her to continue with the upbringing.
    Yesterday, she had 4 yellow chicks under her, and this morning she woke up with 4 yellow ones and a black one, and never batted an eyelid!
     
  5. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Fairfield, Maine
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    Thanks so much for the replies! If I can put the mother hen back in with the flock when the chick is 6-weeks old, that would be great. I think 6-weeks is about the limit I can keep these other chicks in the brooder, and I will try to integrate the broody-raised chick with the others at that point. I have a sectioned off part of the coop and run, that broody and baby are occupying at the moment, which is where all the chicks will live until they are grown.

    It sounds like it may be scary trying to mix these new birds in with the old flock! I've never done this. They at least will be able to see each other all summer (through screen), which may help.

    Meanwhile, I need to get 3, 4-week old chicks to live with the other 9, one and a half week olds. They live side by side, separated with hardware cloth in the brooder. I was glad to read about you put them together for a few minutes at a time, tessa, as that was what I had planned. Today, they only had 3 or 4 minutes together, as the large difference in size scared me. They seemed to do fine, though, so I will keep trying it with supervision.

    It is stressful mixing them up. I will be so glad when the flock integration is behind me and pecking order gets settled!
     
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    I can only share my general experiences, since I think I lost track of who was hatching what around the fourth broody.

    My salmon faverolles are the BEST broodies. I have one with chicks right now. "Doe" had a failed hatch (human error), so I went to the feed store and bought her five chicks. She took to the little ones right away. Just like my other broodies to date, she's raising them in the coop with the rest of the flock. About a week after Doe got her chicks, my older chicks (5 weeks old @ the time) decided they wanted a mama again. Doe's SF sister had kicked them loose early, at about 4 weeks. So Doe took them in and is raising them along with her other five. Quite a sight to see one little hen trying to cover 5 - three week old chicks and 3 - 8 week old chicks.

    While I was at the feed store getting Doe her chicks I decided to get a few extras for another broody, my silkie named Jethro. Jethro had hatched a single chick the week before and was still sitting on "air" waiting for something else to hatch. She was neglecting her singleton chick due to this. Jethro also took to her new chicks right away; I swear the chicken smiled when I gave them to her. Her singleton, Uno, was thrilled to have hatchmates too.

    I've only had one chick injured by being in with the flock. That was one of Doe's first hatch. He was injured by a meat bird; again human error. I should never have expected good results with the meaties in the coop. He, Rowdy, recovered. Mama Hens are usually really good at protecting their babes. Jethro especially doesn't like my young cockerels anywhere near her babies. She has sent more than one of them running for the hills with their pride injured and their tailfeathers left behind.

    I keep mama and chicks locked in their dog crates for about the first three days after hatch or until they let me know without a doubt that they are ready to bring the chicks out. For about another three or four days after that I leave the crate open during the day, lock them in at night. When the chicks start getting too rambunctious to be locked in a crate at all anymore, I just leave it open full-time. During that time mama usually doesn't venture outside with the chicks too much. If she does she sticks close to the coop with them.

    After that they are just part of the flock, as natural as can be. They free range with the flock all day and go to bed when mama says so. The coop is always open during the day so they can go in to eat if they wish, but rarely do. Jethro in particular spends hours excavating the whole area around the coop finding yummy bugs and seeds for her babies. I provide extra waterers outside, check on them several times a day, but that's about the extent of my duties. Mama does the rest.

    I truly believe that it's best to leave the chicks with mama until SHE is ready to cut them loose. She'll teach them everything they need to know about being a chicken. She gives them chicken smarts. I think this is especially important when you have free range flocks like I do. From a very young age the chicks learn to forage, fend for themselves in family squabbles and most importantly, how to watch out for predators.

    Hope this helps. [​IMG]
     
  7. tessa123123

    tessa123123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 17, 2010
    Hi,
    do bear in mind that if your adult hen has been away from the flock for a while, they will try to dominate it to get higher in the pecking order and peck it, but it should be old enough to deal with it hopefully.
     
  8. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Fairfield, Maine
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    Thanks for all the information. I am still mulling over what to do next. I can tell the hen would like to be able to roam freely, but I hate to jeopardize the chick. I think I will keep her protected at least for a couple more weeks, and then I will have to decide if mom and the chick are willing to be separated. I originally had them locked up in a broody pen, but after a few days they somehow busted out of it, which is how the injury happened in the first place. Now the pen is much more secure.

    I don't like keeping them separate, but I'm afraid putting them back would be a death sentence for the chick. My broody is protective, but a little too laid back when the other hens are around, especially the leghorn, who seems to have issues with the chick being around.

    Now I have a second broody that I'm trying to break in a cage. I'd give her a couple of eggs, but my rooster is mostly infertile, apparently.
    Someday next fall, I hope to have all of my chickens in one flock again.
     

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