To separate, or not to separate - that is the question

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by krista74, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all.

    Which is the better option?

    1. Put my broody hen into a separate pen once she has her chicks, keeping them all in there for several weeks until such time that they are big enough to integrate?

    2. Let broody hatch her chicks on her broody nest which is within the main coop (fencing her off for the 24 hours it takes to hatch the all of the eggs of course), so that they immediately become part of the flock? Will she watch out for them if I do that, or are the chicks likely to be killed?

    I have only two pens available at present - one already has a Momma with 5 chicks who are 12 days old in it, and other pen has an orphaned 5 week old chick on his own. Could I put the broody in with him before she hatches her eggs? Or would she abandon her nest then?

    At the moment, the five little chicks pop through the fence to visit the 5 week old chick, but I can fence them off so they can't get through, thereby giving the broody hen some peace. The 5 week old might miss them though.

    Decisions, decisions. What would you do?

    Krista
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    This is an interesting situation. How does the hen with the 12 day old chicks feel about the orphaned chick? What I would try and do is let her adopt that chick and raise it with her existing brood, and if it works well, let her and all the chicks mingle with the rest of the flock. It is always better to let moms raise their chicks with the flock, so the flock knows and accepts the newbies as part of the group and you won't have integration issues later. A good broody mom will protect her chicks against other chickens, though in my experience the other flock members usually don't show much interest in the chicks, apart from some curiosity at first, though there may be exceptions.

    For the current broody, if you can keep her and the hatchlings safe for the day or 2 it takes them to hatch, that will be good. Then when she's ready to get off the next with the little ones watch how your flock responds to the chicks. As I said above, in some cases they might show some aggression and attack the chicks, but this is not common (unfortunately I've had this happen in a previous flock, so I'm cautious).
     
  3. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    I wouldn't move her at this stage.
    Is she an experienced broody or a first timer? If she is experienced then I would leave her in with the flock when they hatch. If she is a first timer, I would probably move them to the cage with the 5 week old orphan and either make alternative arrangements for him or put a box in the cage with a low entrance so that he can get inside out of the way of the broody if he needs to and have food and water in there for him. Or put him and the box in with the older broody and her chicks who hopefully will be more used to him by now and perhaps be a little less defensive of her chicks. A robust cardboard box should be enough to give him protection but make sure he knows how to duck under to get into it.

    Or integrate the other broody and chicks into the flock and move the new broody into her cage when the chicks have hatched and leave the little orphan where he is.

    Good luck finding the right solution that works for your situation.

    Regards

    Barbara
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2014
  4. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The one thing I can't do is put the 5 week old chick in with the other chicks - the Momma hates him and tried to peck him to death when I tried it. She still tries to get him through the wire separator, but he's too quick for her!


    She's a first timer. Her nest is moveable, so I could easily pick up her, with the box and eggs, and plonk her down in the pen with the 5 week old chick. Is she less likely to be aggressive with him if I do that now, rather than wait until the chicks hatch?

    He has a cat cage he can run into if she gets aggressive, but she was in with him for a few days at the start of her sitting and didn't seem to mind him being there. At one point he even ran into her nest with her!

    Do you think it's possible that she would look after her chicks from the other hens? Is it likely they would pick off and kill all of her chicks? I have one hen (the head hen) who is quite vicious, but that being said, broody hen is super-broody and aggressive herself at the moment. The rooster came running up to her the other day when she went out for a feed, and did the mating dance. She squawked at him so loudly that even he ran away, lol.

    Krista
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2014
  5. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Quote:

    Do you think it's possible that she would look after her chicks from the other hens? Is it likely they would pick off and kill all of her chicks? I have one hen (the head hen) who is quite vicious, but that being said, broody hen is super-broody and aggressive herself at the moment. The rooster came running up to her the other day when she went out for a feed, and did the mating dance. She squawked at him so loudly that even he ran away, lol.

    It's impossible to say what kind of mom a hen is going to be until she has chicks. Some broodies are terrors and bad moms, others are docile and excellent mothers (I have one of those). You'll have to wait until they hatch and see. How the others will react the chicks is also something you'll have to wait and see. I would add the mom that already has chicks to the flock so long, and take it from there.
     
  6. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, today I tried to move broody (with her nest) into the pen with our 5 week old chick.

    She eyed him off and watched his every move but did not try to get off the nest to 'get him'. She was, however, talking to him. Sort of chucking to him like his Momma used to. It was really interesting.

    However.... the five little chicks in the attached pen (13 days old), who can pop through the wire to visit with the 5 week old chick any time they want, DID worry her. They were trying to clamber into her nest and you could see her getting more and more distracted and unsettled on her nest. In the end, it must have been too much for her because she took aim at one of the little chickies and pecked him/her.

    I decided to put her back out into general population. The flock do not bother her any more and even the rooster steers clear of her. We are going to see if she can raise her chicks as part of the main flock. Hopefully she will protect them from the one mean hen we have.

    My other option was to fence off the little chickies and just leave her in the pen with the 5 week old chick, but he would get lonely without his little friends I suspect. Broody hens are not great company for a 5 week old chick, lol.

    We will, of course, fence off her nest for the 24 hours or so that she is actively hatching the eggs.

    Krista
     

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