So...we tried to introduce Ma hen and her chick back into the flock

Lorax

Chirping
Jul 13, 2020
62
89
53
Our set up is that we have four chickens who were all raised from one day olds together. Betty, our maran, went broody back in late June so we put some eggs under her and now she has a 3.5 week old chick called Yoyo.

Betty and Yoyo are in their separate run next to the main WIR where they can all see each other-ish. On Sunday we let out the three adult hens (Betty's 'sisters') for a bit to look at Betty and Yoyo in their run, nothing remotely interesting happened. Yesterday we let them all out, Betty and Yoyo first, for some free ranging. At first everything was really fine, then one of the other hens got a touch close (totally absent mindedly) to Yoyo and Betty gave her a peck.

This I expected. So then the three sisters went off round the back of the house (out of sight) to explore. Betty, after a minute, left Yoyo unguarded and totally vulnerable (so much so that we thought she'd abandoned her) and went to find her sisters and the most ALMIGHTY fight ensued. My husband couldn't bear it so he split them up and Betty went back to her chick.

Betty was top of the pecking order before and has always been our most docile, pick-up-able chicken. Honestly, she scares me a bit now! I'm all for Mama-bear behaviour but what do we do now?

Shall we continue to let them all free range together for a bit every day under close supervision and let them sort it out?

How are we ever going to get them to live together again...I feel under time pressure because in a few weeks B will probably abandon her chick and then she/he's going to have to integrate with four full grown hens. any advice welcome. TIA.
 

Lorax

Chirping
Jul 13, 2020
62
89
53
Let them work it out if there's no blood. I don't seperate a broody from the flock. Integration happens naturally and mama protects the chicks.
I'd have liked not to have separated her but with our set up at the moment we had to. Next time perhaps we will do things differently!

And what if there is blood??
 

Mylied

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 12, 2012
3,316
5,323
462
Middle Georgia
I'd have liked not to have separated her but with our set up at the moment we had to. Next time perhaps we will do things differently!

And what if there is blood??
Seperate for a while and try again. It's best if they can be side by side with a fence between so they can look but not touch.
 

Shezadandy

Crowing
5 Years
Sep 26, 2015
1,950
2,299
337
Portland OR
So- what to do now. You're right to want to have momma hen integrate the baby ASAP because it's not outside the realm of possibility that she'll wean that chick at any time.

Sometimes it seems hens with single chicks keep their babies longer, but this is not always the case.

Always expect that momma hen is going to make a point of laying down the law with the other hens- and BTW, she will not always land "on top", i.e. she may find that she's going to be the submissive one, and that's OK. They have to settle things themselves.

Here's my trick. I put out a "Flock Block" and break it into a couple, sometimes more, pieces, and separate the pieces by several feet. I use Flock Blocks instead scratch -- because it takes a LOT more time and a LOT move effort from the chickens to extract the morsels of food. It keeps them busy for quite a while.

Everyone gets far more excited about the chicken candy bar and forgets to be fixated on momma hen coming back with a chick. The art of distraction can get you from point A to point B.
 

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