REintegration after having chicks, and chicks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by crzychkn, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. crzychkn

    crzychkn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
    Texas boonies
    Hi! You guys were awesome in guiding us through our first hatching, so I wanted to seek your advice on our next 'phase', pretty please!

    Our little silkie chicks are between 4-6 weeks old, varying ages due to the staggered hatching with two Momma's sharing a large clutch! We were letting nature take its course and letting our silkies set and hatch their clutch- keep in mind this was most unplanned, we were out of town when they went broody! The day the first egg hatched just so happened to coincide with the arrival of an arctic front here in Texas. Figures! LoL out of concern for the hours old chick, the other eggs and the Momma's we quickly set up a broody house and run indoors. We carefully moved them, all went swimmingly. We ended up with 9 silkie chicks!

    The weather remained cold and we kept them inside. Then it began to warm up-significantly. I went out back, set up a coop and an enclosed run, so no one could get in or out, other than humans, right next to the big girls coop. These 2 silkies were a part of this flock before we brought them in, though they did have their own sleeping quarters! We carefully moved the Momma's and the babies to their coop and run and turned it all over to the Mommas.

    It did get a bit chilly after a few days but the babies were toasty under their Momma's in the coop and didn't seem to mind the cooler days a bit. They have quite a lovely set up and all are doing well and thriving. Our silkie rooster is doing quite well with the big girls since his silkie girls went away to have chicks, and has 2 hens, a golden comet and a red sex link, that are his favorites and they are usually always together. But he has 9 full size girls to look after, and he has adjusted amazingly to the absence of the silkie girls.

    I am concerned about when the chicks are a bit older and we begin to let the new silkie posse free range with the others. We seem to have what I think are some rather weird dynamics among the girls and despite the Momma's having been members of the flock once, will they remember each other? Will the rooster reaccept them? They are 'integrating' through the fence of their pen, but I do not know what else I might do to make their rejoining the flock, with 9 additional fuzzies, easier for them. I have read some other posts, and there are so many things to take into consideration my head is spinning. I figured just let them raise their babies and see how it goes, but I worry so about them when it is time to open the fence. Oh, they will always have their own coop for sleeping, just makes me feel safer! LoL
     
  2. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think the main thing you can do is make some kind of safe zone the chicks can run into that the bigger chickens can't get into. That way the chicks have an "out" (and a safe place to eat and drink).
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    DITTO^^^

    Much may depend on whether the broodies will protect the chicks or are ready to 'wean' them.
    There may be some re-establishment of the pecking order as the mama's have been gone long enough to now be 'new' chickens.

    I just yesterday 'reintroduced' a broody and her 2 week old chicks to the flock, she(they) has been separated just by wire since she first went broody....there were a couple of hellacious fights right off the bat between mama and a couple of the older hens. The chicks were not attacked or hurt and quickly learned where their food was in a small fenced off area right next to the nest, that the chicks can get thru but the other chickens cannot access.

    You never know how live animals will behave....hope for the best and be prepared to manage the worst.
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I am a firm believer in not separating my birds. As birds do forget, and hate new comers. I leave the broody in the flock, and everyone tiptoes around her. It may be heartless, and I am risking not having a perfect hatch, but it works for me.

    When people do separate the mama and chicks, what often happens is that the broody hen and people get tired of the chicks at the same time. The people want the whole group in the flock, and the broody's hormones have dived, and she wants to go back to being a laying chicken. She forgets her chicks. Generally she won't attack them, but she won't defend them much past 4 weeks. If she herself has been separated from the flock, then she too has to fight her way back into pecking order. I would go ahead, and put the two adult birds together, back into the flock, but you might very well need to wait until the chicks are much older to introduce to the flock.

    AArt - has a one way gate set up. When I opened that, I would stand in the big girls pen, and chase those chicks back through that one way gate a few times, so they get the idea that when they need to escape, that is the place to do it.

    In the future, understanding chicken society and broody hen hormones can help. When a bird goes broody, she becomes very defensive of her nest. She will puff up and growl, and try and take your arm off. At least the broodies that I have had do this. When she gets out of her nest, sometimes another bird will get in and lay, every two or three days, I take a peak by taking a towel down with me, covering her head and carefully lifting her off the nest, be careful of eggs up under her wings. She will take a walk, fight two or three hens, establish her place in the flock, get a drink eat a bit and be back. People worry that she might not stay on the nest if they are not locked on the nest, and I have had a hen get back on the wrong nest. When that happened, the eggs were cool to the touch, but I put her back on the right nest, and they hatched 2 weeks later just fine.

    When they hatch, the hormones in the broody hen are HIGH, she takes protection to a whole new level. If she has remained with the flock, they are pretty respectful of her, and now are terrified. They think it is rather strange that she has these curious fluff balls running around, but if they get too close, she whips them, they learn to stay away, the chicks learn to keep the mamma hen between them and the layers, and they all just get used to each other, and there is no integration issue. As they get older, the rooster also will let them eat by him, and perch by him on the roost. He will break up any huge pecking of a layer on a chick. And the chicks learn about pecking order in a chicken society.

    Personally this is the way I do it, everyone has their own comfort level, but very often, separating birds from the flock causes more problems than it solves.

    Mrs K
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    At Aart - if you can put a wide board up near your roosts sometime this week as close as you can get to the height. By the time those chicks are 4 weeks old, I bet that broody will have them up on the board. I have found that the hen will stay more interested in the chicks longer if she can satisfy her urge to roost without leaving them. When they first get up there, they still crawl under her, then in a couple of weeks they just lean around her, then later, my rooster was up there too, with a space between him and the hen with most of the chicks between them.

    Worked a treat.

    Mrs K
     
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  6. crzychkn

    crzychkn Out Of The Brooder

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    May 22, 2014
    Texas boonies
    Oh thank you so much! I will definitely be constructing a way/place only the littles can escape to! :)

    Mrs K, wow, such wonderful information! Thank you! If we should have a hen go broody this spring/summer, which I am sure will happen, :) if we have another clutch, well, definitely going to go your route - it so makes sense! I had to chuckle thinking of the Momma so taking care of her chicks that the other girls become terrified! It's just imagining my little Tatiana with that kind of 'power' made me chuckle-that would be tremendous to witness!

    I had planned on having some chicks this spring-that way i would have time to read, research and build. This was a most unexpected surprise! We come back from being out of town and we had a broody! I was beside myself with worry for no other reason than it was winter! Ugh. I wish we could have let them do the broody/hatch thing outside, but being so new to this when the 1st baby hatched and we had freezing rain starting and cold, cold mud everywhere, well, i made the decision to bring them in. Sigh. Now I have this pickle! :p

    I feel very blessed to be able to come here and read, research and learn from all of y'all! I have some books I am still reading and I am so amazed at all that goes into properly caring for these amazing birds! My girls, and my boy, are such joys to me and my family that i want to do my best to do what is in their best interest! So thank you, all of you, for your patience, kindness and sharing of your knowledge and experience! Just a year into this and I still feel like such a newbie! :p i hope one day i can share my knowledge/experience with someone, too!

    Once this ice/rain passes i will be out building an area just for the chickies! :)

    Have a lovely, and THANK YOU, again! :)
     

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