Vicious mother hen after weaning

JanBarnett

Hatching
May 20, 2020
5
5
8
Hi! I was down to one buff Orpington who went broody, and instead of hand raising New chicks For my flock in the house, I waited an appropriate amount of time and slipped some just hatched babies under her, which she gladly accepted! What a good mama she turned out to be! I did not see the *discussion*, but she weaned them last week. The babies are about seven weeks old, about a third her size, and are absolutely terrified of her. She rages after them if they come close, and it is very inconvenient to give snacks and treats, or to try to get them in the coop at night. Mama goes after the babies in the coop. I have been putting the babies in a cat carrier and leaving them in the coop at night, and mama is not welcoming them to the coop. These babies are supposed to be her companions! Will she settle down? Should I just let them try to work it out with mama? I break it up before anything too serious happens. Babies are growing and can’t stay in the cat carrier forever, I need these birds to be in the same coop! What should I expect? Many thanks for your thoughts or suggestions.
 

cavemanrich

Enabler
6 Years
Apr 6, 2014
14,330
43,863
1,187
Melrose Park Illinois
I'm not with you to observe the vicious action that you describe. Maybe it is just plain ole pecking order to show dominance. As long as there is places for the chicks to escape to, I would let them grow together. (place things inside your run area, such as things chicks can hide under, and mama hen cant squeeze under.)
Of course I have no idea how your run is/looks, so just making general suggestions.
If things do get vicious, and chicks start getting hurt, this is what I WOULD DO.
I would separate mama hen into a large dog cage away from coop/run for about one week. Give food and water, but do not let her see the chicks, or coop. Yes, its like prison time, but you are only doing to retrain hen, and not harm her. After one week, let her join the flock. She will be seen as a newcomer, and not really welcome. A newcomer always feels like at bottom of pecking order.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and :welcome
 

JanBarnett

Hatching
May 20, 2020
5
5
8
I'm not with you to observe the vicious action that you describe. Maybe it is just plain ole pecking order to show dominance. As long as there is places for the chicks to escape to, I would let them grow together. (place things inside your run area, such as things chicks can hide under, and mama hen cant squeeze under.)
Of course I have no idea how your run is/looks, so just making general suggestions.
If things do get vicious, and chicks start getting hurt, this is what I WOULD DO.
I would separate mama hen into a large dog cage away from coop/run for about one week. Give food and water, but do not let her see the chicks, or coop. Yes, its like prison time, but you are only doing to retrain hen, and not harm her. After one week, let her join the flock. She will be seen as a newcomer, and not really welcome. A newcomer always feels like at bottom of pecking order.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and :welcome
Thanks so much! Perhaps it is just pecking order behavior. I’ll watch and see if her behavior settles down when they go in the coop. The birds free range in my large backyard, so chicks avoid her like the plague during the day. at night The chicks are reluctant to go in the coop ( which should easily hold 6 adult birds comfortably) because she goes after them on the roost. I’ll watch. Your suggestion to take mama out to recalibrate the situation If needed is a good one. Thanks so much!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
84,261
97,616
1,677
SW Michigan
My Coop
It's weaning, more than pecking order, and can be brutal.
More so as there are not any other birds in the flock.
Isolating mama for a time might work, not sure she needs to be out of sight.
Space, hiding places, multiple feed and water stations would be good once you let her rejoin the chicks.
How big is your coop and run, in feet by feet?
Dimensions and pics would help here.
 

JanBarnett

Hatching
May 20, 2020
5
5
8
Hi, aart! Your response is very helpful. The coop has 4 nesting boxes, which are about 12" x 12". Excluding the nesting boxes, the coop itself is 4' x 4', with two roosts. There is no attached run, they have the freedom to run around my fenced-in quarter acre that has tons of hiding spaces and obstacles. Chicks are safe in the yard, as they are wary of Mom and keep clear. The coop is where I need to watch them and separate them. Mom's behavior is getting better. The last 2 nights, I watched as they settled into the coop and did not lock the babies in the cat carrier. In the morning, the babies are on the roosts and Mom is on the floor. There's no blood, no open wounds, and Mom seems to be less rabid. So, I'll keep watching closely when I put them to bed and trust this is going as it must. Many thanks!
 

Xouie

Chirping
Jun 11, 2020
140
468
83
SF Bay Area
I'm not with you to observe the vicious action that you describe. Maybe it is just plain ole pecking order to show dominance. As long as there is places for the chicks to escape to, I would let them grow together. (place things inside your run area, such as things chicks can hide under, and mama hen cant squeeze under.)
Of course I have no idea how your run is/looks, so just making general suggestions.
If things do get vicious, and chicks start getting hurt, this is what I WOULD DO.
I would separate mama hen into a large dog cage away from coop/run for about one week. Give food and water, but do not let her see the chicks, or coop. Yes, its like prison time, but you are only doing to retrain hen, and not harm her. After one week, let her join the flock. She will be seen as a newcomer, and not really welcome. A newcomer always feels like at bottom of pecking order.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and :welcome
Agreed. Mama needs a timeout. Time for some tough love.
 

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