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Separating Chicks From Hens?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by DivaExMachina, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. DivaExMachina

    DivaExMachina In the Brooder

    May 13, 2013
    At what age should chicks be separated from their mother when it's cold and dark outside?

    Back in late October - early November, one of our hens hatched a bunch of chickens. This was our first time with a broody hen. Perhaps we should have not let her sit in the nest but after considering the pros and cons we decided to let her be. We did a number of other things wrong, too, but in the end we had nine baby chicks hatching out over a period of 7-8 days.

    Of course, now we have the problem of a bunch of small chicks growing up in winter (we're in Sweden). They're 5-6 weeks old, and the weather has suddenly turned quite cold (-12C/10F), it's often windy and the days are very short. Until now we've had mum + chicks in their own separate area of the hen house, but over the last few days mum has started acting up: instead of sitting on the ground keeping them warm she's often been roosting on one of the shelves up the top for part of the day. Earlier today another hen got into their section and attacked a few of the chicks and mum didn't rush to defend them. She has also laid a couple of eggs. And when I went down to shut them all in for the night, I saw that mama hen wasn't letting them get to the water, but was pecking at them. So I picked her up and moved her to the main area with the rest of the flock, and the chicks immediately went to drink.

    I am guessing this means that our hen is done raising chicks and wants to be with the grown ups again? I am worried that now winter is really settled in that the chicks won't thrive. The coop is insulated with minimal heating but a few mornings the indoor water has been slushy. The coop temperature most of the time is around 5C or below. The brooding area is shut off from the rest so the chicks can't get outside and can only mingle with the adults if we let them.

    Any advice going forward? Should we put more heating in there? Will they be ok without mum around to warm them? Do I need more heating indoors? At what age will they be ready to go outside? Will it hurt their eyesite if they only have infra red lighting for most of the day (plus some sunlight for a few hours)? I have so many questions that I hope you all can give me some advice about!

    Thanks in advance.

  2. A lot depends on your weather and invironment, ussualy when mother hen is finish her duties a parent she will leave them alone down under, the other hen's will probably attack them, but they will also learn to stay away from the parents, Normally they will group together and quickly learn that they are at the bottom of the order and keep them self out of the way. I don't split them from the flock because if you add them later on there will be a fight all over again, well that is my advice, some might differ, others will agree.
  3. RoostersCrow HensDeliver!

    RoostersCrow HensDeliver! Songster

    Apr 11, 2011
    SE Michigan
    It sounds like mama hen isn't broody anymore, so yes it might be a good idea to let her get back with the flock if she isn't caring for them anymore. I have seen hens get nasty with their chicks after their broodiness breaks, but most hens just ignore them not beat them up.

    I would be worried that if you let the young chicks join the rest of the flock without a protective mother, that they would be bullied by the adults. That is why I don't introduce pullets/cockerals to my main flock until they are 14 weeks or older. (But that is strictly my preference.)

    I am not familiar with Celsius but if it is close to freezing I would supplement heat if the babies are not fully feathered. You will be able to tell if they are cold, they will huddle together and look fluffed up. If they are fully feathered, you may not need to add heat at all. Just make sure they have a full feeder , when they digest their food it creates heat.

    A red heat lamp light will not hurt their eyes.

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