Struggling to transition chicks to coop

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ontheridge, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. ontheridge

    ontheridge Out Of The Brooder

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    I had my first hatch with a broody hen a couple of weeks ago. My hen was extremely committed despite our lack of rooster, and a friend had eggs that her mama hen had left behind after hatching out 6 chicks so I gave them to my Mama. Because we've never had chicks in the coop I was nervous about it's layout and the other hens, so Mama and her nest were all placed in a seperate space that is attached to the coop but seperated by hardwire cloth.

    Mama had her first hatch sept 2 and then a second sept 5 and a third sept 8. I removed two remaining eggs because i was skeptical of how it would all play out with such a staggered hatch. Chick #3 made it about 5 days and looked great, just a bit less active than her older siblings, and then I found her dead. I'm guessing she got cold with Mama moving around more to show the other chicks the ropes...? In any case, now I'm definitely nervous about how to keep the two chicks remaining safe.

    Now I'm unsure how and when to make the transition from the seperate section of the coop to allowing them the freedom the rest of the flock has in the big coop and attached chicken yard. If I had my choice, I'd keep them sequestered as long as possible, but Mama is acting anxious and stressed. She's always at the open wire section looking in at the other hens in the larger coop. One of my concerns though is that it's getting chilly here as fall rolls in and I don't quite understand how the babes stay warm if wandering around in the coop and yard? And at will mama need to have a new nest? At what point do they babes roost with the rest of the flock? When will they be able to stay warm without huddling under Mama?

    Clearly I'm a novice and need some serious help.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

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    I have no experience with hatchings and have only gals, but have had two frequently broody hens. One usually "got over it quickly"- only a week or so and the other stayed "in the mood for weeks- usually about 3 weeks'.

    Could it by your broody hen is over the motherly instincts? And ready to abandon the little ones. Or just lacks the motherly instincts.

    IMO - save the remains babies and move them to a brooder and hope you can integrate them to the flock when they are older.
     
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    The hen will keep her chicks warm. You are getting to watch just how unnatural it is for chicks to be under a heat lamp 24/7. Chicks are supposed to go running off and explore, then, when they get chilled, they run under momma for a warm up. Since the hen and chicks are within sight of the main flock, the transition to the coop will be much easier. The hen usually keeps the chicks close to the nest for about a week, and then starts to take them around the main flock. So at about 1 week old is the best time to begin integrating. If you can, start by allowing the main flock to free range near the broody coop/run. Then you can open the broody coop and let your hen go where she wishes, the chicks will follow. Adult birds usually ignore young chicks for the most part, and the broody hen will deal with any that get a little too close. Be sure to have multiple food and water stations available to help reduce tensions.
     
  4. Little Fuzzy

    Little Fuzzy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Gosh its mind boggling! I'm not brave enough to try that yet. Good Luck.
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    The sooner you can let Mama and babies join the flock, the better the integration will go. Her broody hormones are highest within the first two weeks, and she will have the highest instinct to protect her babies from flock mates at that time. So, with supervision, let them join the flock. Of course an important aspect of this is that the babies will need to be able to get in/out of the coop. That is one of the biggest hurdles for babies in a flock/coop situation. They get their flight feathers in around 1 - 2 weeks, and at that time, can mobilize amazingly well! Mama is stressed because she needs to rejoin the flock. Allow her and her babies to do so!
     
  6. ontheridge

    ontheridge Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I went for it. I locked all the other gals into the attached garden (out of the coop) and moved Mama and the two littles into the coop. In a little bit I will go open the gate and see how they all get along. But now I have a new question!

    My Mama, who you'll remember was very agitated in the small brooder area (which is raised) is feverishly, aggressively dirt bathing. This is the first time she's had access to dirt in a LONG time since she's been up in the box nesting and hatching chicks. The babies are scratching their heads/beaks against the ground. Is this all just normal behavior? Mama just needed her bath? Do I have to be concerned about mites at this point?

    The oldest chick's feathers are certainly scraggly... I've noticed the last couple of days that the way her feathers are switch from the fluff to the real deal looks much different to me than any chicks I've bought as 3 day olds and raised under heat lamps. Could this just be a breed thing or a heat lamp vs outside thing? I attached pictures but they aren't great because I was taking them through the chicken wire.

    Also, I did watch Mama bring the babies up into the raised roosting area, so I know they can get up the ramp fine. Where should I expect she'll sleep with them to keep them warm? Up there or down in the dirt underneath? [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Completely normal behavior.
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    It wouldn't hurt to check momma for mites tonight. She's probably fine, just itching for a good bath, but it wouldn't be a problem just to be sure.

    Baby looks fine to me. The tend to feather out faster when they're broody raised.

    My hens brood on the ground as a rule, but she'll pick where she wants to be, and her chicks will follow. My hens start roosting around 6ish weeks, and the chicks also follow. At that point they're feathered enough, but they still try to squish under momma on the roost. It's kinda funny to watch.


    I so wish everyone who broods chicks could watch a broody raise chicks first. Folks try and do their best, but they really tend to overheat the little things. Baby chicks are pretty darn tough, and can stand way cooler temps than folks give them credit for.

    Enjoy your broody and babies! This is about the best part of having backyard birds, IMO.
     
  9. ontheridge

    ontheridge Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks again for all the help walking me through this! So far so good, I think. Mama brought the babes around the garden and it was a lot of fun to watch them explore. Mama is a BEAST to the other hens. I have no worries about her ability to defend the littles. The other hens were terrified of her and kept their distance to be sure. At dusk I went to go check and I found Mama and the babies all roosting up high in the top of the coop. No one else had 'gone to bed' for the night, so it was jsut the three of them in there. I started to feel concerned because they were not under Mama, in fact they were on a different roosting bar! I left them be and checked back in a half hour or so as it was getting dark and, shame on me and my doubt, the trio had moved to a nesting box and the babes were tucked in under Mama.

    I'm definitely learning to let them do their think. Mama seems to be doing great.

    In the weeks ahead, is there anything I need to be watching for? Do I need to keep a close eye on them for a while?

    [​IMG]
     
  10. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    You're doing fine, or rather, your hen is. She knows what to do, all you have to do is sit back and watch. And most hens like to get their babies to bed and settled before the usual cooping up drama starts. Even in the most established flocks, with more than enough roosting space, there is always some drama over who has the best spot.
     

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