Questions about hen with chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by forestrymom, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. forestrymom

    forestrymom Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a hen with 5 chicks. They are about 5.5 weeks old right now. Three look to be fully feathered, 1 isn't too far behind, and the fifth is not feathered at all and I'm pretty sure there's something wrong with her (she can't get into the next by herself and she's always getting lost, but I don't think she's blind, just dumb). Anyway, the mother wants to sleep with them in one of the nesting boxes, and that's where they've spent the past 3 weeks or so. I just help the little dumb chick up into the box and alls well (I love love love the little dumb one the most, LOL). They are with my 4 BO hens and 1 BO rooster, who are finally getting used to the roost. Anyway, tonight the mother hen had 2 of the chicks up on the roost and the other 3 were stumbling around. I needed to turn the light out, and it was already dark outside. I turned the light out and held a flashlight to see what would happen and the mother got back down from the roost, got into the next box and it was chaos for about 10 minutes until they settled. So, my question is, when will the babies roost? The hen acted like she wanted them up there roosting tonight, but its still frosting at night, and the coop isn't insulated yet. It stays relatively warm, but I wouldn't think it would be warm enough for them without their mama.

    Thanks, and if you made it that far, thanks even more!
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    More than likely Mama will keep attempting to draw the babies up to roost with her each night or every couple of nights until they all get the hang of it. When they can't manage it, Mama will jump back down and take them to the nest. She'll keep trying until all the babies are able to make it to the roost. Again, most of the time. Some broodies are not the sharpest tools in the shed.

    Until all the babies are able to get up there or until all are feathered enough to be able to keep warm without her help, make sure she takes them back to the nest each night. That's about all you can do.

    ETA: I have two sets of chicks with broodies right now, each 5 1/2 weeks old; one clutch has 3 chicks, the other has 5. One broody cut her chicks loose last week. Like yours, one of these chicks is very slow to feather. It huddles with its hatchmates and has done just fine. Recently all of its hatchmates have started roosting, but without good flight feathers it can't make it up to the roost on its own, so I help it each night.

    The other broody is still trying to cover her three chicks. Mama is a silkie, her chicks are standards. The chicks are quickly outgrowing mama, but she still tries. They have abandoned the nest, but aren't quite ready for the roost. They all huddle together on top of a nestbox at night.

    Just assess the situation each night and do what your instincts tell you to do; whether it's to return mama to the nest or help the babies to roost with her (providing the other adults will let them; chicks are usually pretty low on the pecking order).
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2011
  3. forestrymom

    forestrymom Out Of The Brooder

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    Okay, so its getting cold here at night (35ish) and she is definitely DONE with her chicks. Anytime they get close, she pecks at them. The coop is not insulated but is free from drafts, adn there are 6 chickens and the 5 chicks in there. Will they be okay?
     
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Quote:Provided they have a place to snuggle down in some hay or shavings in the coop they should do just fine.
     
  5. forestrymom

    forestrymom Out Of The Brooder

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    She won't let her chicks up on the roost with her. I ended up basically locking all 5 chicks in one of the nesting boxes (although I'm sure they can squeak by the "gate" and turning the light out in the coop, hoping they'd snuggle down. I also put a nest on one of the poop boards in case they decide to venture up there. I'm so sad--they want their mommy. I'm not sure what to do because she is being very mean to them and the other chickens, who were previously FINE with the chicks, are following her lead. I really don't have anywhere to separate them.
     

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