Separating chicks in a very small flock?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by nhbackyardchick, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. nhbackyardchick

    nhbackyardchick Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 23, 2012
    Hello all...I apologize if this has been answered. We have 3 Plymouth Rocks (1 Barred, 1 Partridge and 1 White). Our White girl "Peep" went broody in July and a lady from our local Tractor Supply gave us some eggs from her flock to try hatching (we don't have a rooster). She had advised us to let "nature" take it's course and that mama would protect them if the other two girls got too interested in the babies. This sounded like good advice and we were all set to go with it...today our eggs started hatching and we have 4 adorable little chicks (so far anyway)! I ran back to TS to get some crumble for the babies and the guy working today said that I absolutely must separate the chicks and mama from the other two birds. This won't be an easy task in our coop (12' x 4' with a completely roofed and hardwire clothed run, and nest/roost area above that with a ramp up for the girls that is completely enclosed.) I can close the door to the upstairs to keep the other 2 out...it is warm here and they could sleep in the run...but I doubt they'd like that much. Mama went after our 120 pound Great Pyrenees when he stuck his head up there to say hello to her and her eggs a few weeks back. I'm guessing if she can take a big dog on that her "sisters" won't be a problem, but now I'm nervous. The other two free range in our fenced in yard all day and seem to have little interest in their new housemates. Thoughts? Suggestions?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feed store clerks are historically poor sources of information. They are there to sell, not teach, and are not trained. They may or may not have some knowledge about managing a flock of chickens. Why they come up with some of this stuff is beyond me.

    I always have my broodies raise their chicks in with the rest of the flock. I've never lost a chick because another hen was aggressive toward it, as the mamas protect the chicks. I won't tell you it never happens, because it does -- but mama hens have been raising their chicks in with the flock for thousands of years. The only "don't" is, don't feed the chicks layer feed. The mama and other hens can eat starter, grower, flock raiser -- whatever, and will do fine on them. If you offer some oyster shell separately, the hens who are laying will take what they need, and the chicks won't bother it.
     
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  3. nhbackyardchick

    nhbackyardchick Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 23, 2012
    Thank you so much! I feel much better now! We had totally planned to allow them to be with the rest of the flock...the mother hen has always been the "top chicken" and the other two usually hang together and stay clear of her anyway. I did buy starter/grower for mama and chicks and they all seem to be eating. I have layer pellets in the run still, but there is no way the babies could get to it. No one seems to be drinking yet...I filled a gallon waterer and added "Sav-A-Chick to it. Not really sure if that was necessary. They are in the "upstairs" part of the coop right now...there is a ramp that everyone uses to go up/down. I'm hoping these little fellas don't fall out once they start roaming around...it's about a 3 foot drop. Thanks again! This has been so exciting! I really didn't think they'd hatch!
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I cringe every time someone posts "the person at the feed store said....".

    I'm another that broods in the flock. I do have a rooster(s, now) and they're also protective of the chicks. Momma will butt-kick anyone who messes with her babies! Yes, when they're a little older, the older hens will peck them sometimes to put them in their place, and momma will allow it. It's usually something like the chick is at the feeder and the older hen approaches. The chick doesn't yield to the older bird, so she pecks it once to say "listen, punk, move over". Chick will cheep like it's dying and run to momma. Momma just clucks like "what did you expect, she's your elder, get out of her way". It's a great way to raise chicks, they learn good flock manners and you don't have to try to introduce anyone later when it's a huge pain.

    Just wait until you see momma ranging with those babies, calling them over for some especially tasty treat! Or baby chicks imitating momma and scratching around.....I wish everyone who has chicks could see a momma hen raise her babies.
     
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  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    What donrae said! I was too lazy to type out some of the advantages, so she did it for me, and much more entertainingly than I would have!
     

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