Two groups of chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Ginger Ninja X, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. Ginger Ninja X

    Ginger Ninja X In the Brooder

    Dec 23, 2016
    Lower Hutt, NZ
    Hi everyone!

    I need some advice on how to merge two groups of chicks. Our chicken count is 4 hens (2 are 10+ years old) and 4 chicks (3 1/2 weeks old, 2 Rhode Island Reds and 2 Barred Rocks).

    We bought some fertilised eggs and our broody Mrs. Hughes hatched 3 of them. She rejected one. I took the one (runt) and kept it alive inside. I then bought a similar aged chick to keep Runt company. Now I have 2 sets of chicks who I would like to put together before introducing them to the flock.

    Is it possible to put the 2 "orphaned" chicks with our broody Mrs. Hughes and her two chicks or will Mrs Hughes peck them?

    Or should I remove Mrs. Hughes and put all the chicks in together or will they all peck each other?

    I feel like it would be easier to introduce all 4 chicks to the existing flock at the same time rather than 2 at a time.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Crowing

    Oct 23, 2014
    A good mom will adopt orphaned chicks, but since your broody rejected one it is unlikely that she will adopt it back, with another one. If you remove her chicks before she is ready she will be very stressed.

    I would wait until she is finished taking care of her two chicks, then put all four together separate from the others. When the four are big enough introduce them to the rest of the flock together, but let the two groups see each other for awhile first such as a partitioned wall separated by poly fence.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  3. dragonthehunter

    dragonthehunter Chirping

    Mar 8, 2016
    New brunswick Canada
    They are still a bit too young to go in with the rest I would Put the 2 chicks with mrs. Hughes And see what happens If she pecks wait until she is done with the other 2 then put the 4 together and introduce them as a family
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You are dealing with living animals. No one can tell you for sure what will happen, but we can share our experiences and offer opinions. I have given chicks to a broody hen several times, all but one successfully. This is with chicks straight out of the incubator, not older chicks like yours. Some hens will mother practically any chick, but what normally happens is that the hen and chicks imprint on each other during and right after hatch. The younger the chicks are the more likely that process will be successful.

    It’s not just the hen accepting the chicks, the chicks have to accept the hen. They need to accept her authority. Even if the hen accepts the chicks, which at that age is not really likely, she may be forced to do what a good mother (in many people’s opinions) does when her kids misbehave, she disciplines them. With a broody hen that usually involves pecking. Some pecking is OK and will sometimes bond the chicks to her, but sometimes it doesn’t end well. This is why I would not try to put the two chicks with the broody, I just don’t think it is likely to work at that age. You can certainly try it but be ready to intervene.

    You can take the two chicks from that broody at any time. She will be upset for a day or two but will quickly get over it and soon return to being a normal hen. The sooner you do it the sooner she returns to laying. I personally like for a hen to totally raise her chicks but you have to deal with what life sends you. I don’t see any big problems waiting until she weans them but I also don’t see any big problems with you taking those chicks away now. Either way can work.

    I think your basic plan is pretty good, introduce the chicks to each other before you introduce them to the flock. A lot of people would be quite successful just putting the chicks together in a brooder, no prep at all. Others would want to house them side by side for a few days before they let them together. Either way can work and no matter which way you go about it there are some risks involved. I once had a 2-week-old chick kill its hatch mate, no integration involved at all. When you deal with living animals things can possibly happen. If I were in your situation I’d probably just put the four chicks together in the brooder and observe. But have a Plan B ready.

  5. Ginger Ninja X

    Ginger Ninja X In the Brooder

    Dec 23, 2016
    Lower Hutt, NZ
    Thanks! I'd like to keep Mrs Hughes with her chicks until she's ready to let them go then I think I'll put all 4 chicks together in their own enclosure.
    1 person likes this.

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