When can i separate Momma from her chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by krista74, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi everyone, I'm seeking a little advice please.

    I have a large coop, and that coop has been partitioned off into two halves with wire fencing. My main flock (3 hens and one rooster) reside in one half of that coop.

    The remaining half is divided up with wire fencing also, into two separate 'quarter' pens. In each quarter pen there is a Momma Hen with her 4 chicks. The chicks in one pen are 5 weeks old, and the chicks in the other pen are 1 week old.

    The way I have it set up, all the chicks can get through the fence to the other quarter so that they can socialise with the other chicks, but they cannot (at this stage) get into the main flock's half coop. The Momma Hens cannot get through either. I hope that makes sense, lol!

    ANYWAY, onto my question....

    At what age can I take the Momma Hen of the 4 (five week) old chicks out of her quarter pen, and reintegrate her with the main flock? Ideally, I would like to leave all of the 8 chicks with the one Momma Hen (the one who has the week old chicks), and encourage the other Momma to get laying again!

    Is it possible to just whip her out of the pen and put her in with the main flock? Will she react badly to being able to see her chicks but not be with them? My intention down the line is to keep the single female out of those 4 chicks, and give away the three cockerels (two of which already have a future home).

    Thoughts?

    - Krista
     
  2. mtngirl35

    mtngirl35 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Momma hens will usually part ways from the chicks when they are about 6 weeks old. One of my hens hatched chicks in June and once they were fully feathered and could stay warm without her she started pecking and squawking at them until they just became flock members instead of her babies.
     
  3. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So in that case, would you suggest I leave her there until the chicks are 6 weeks old and then boot her out into the flock, leaving the chicks with the adoptive Momma?

    I can't let the chicks out to become flock members just yet as we have a cat with a killer hunting instinct. For that reason, they have to remain penned up until they are bigger. But the other chicks are 4 weeks younger so I figure if I leave them all in there together to grow bigger it might be ok?

    My only concern was wether the Momma would cope with not being with them, but maybe if I wait a little longer it will get to the point where she doesn't want to be with them anyway. Here's hoping the adoptive Momma can handle them all, lol.

    -Krista
     
  4. Free Feather

    Free Feather Chillin' With My Peeps

    I do not understand why you want to separate her. I would say whenever she wants to leave them, so about 6-8 weeks.
     
  5. mtngirl35

    mtngirl35 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Once the chicks are fully feathered I would start letting Momma out with the main flock for awhile. If she wants back in with the chicks you will be able to tell. She will run up and down beside the partition acting upset and trying to find a way back in.
     
  6. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    It would be extremely stressful for both the hen and the chicks to just put her on the other side of the fence. Actually it will probably be stressful for all of your chickens. It only takes a small amount of stress for all of your hens to stop laying.

    Also IF the hen with the one week old chicks accepts the older chicks, the older chicks will push the younger chicks out from under the hen. One week old chicks will die quickly from being chilled.

    If I had this situation, I would rehome the chicks you found a home for. IF the broody with the younger chicks accepts the remaining pullet, you won't have as much problem with one chick shoving all of the smaller chicks out into the cold.

    But, unless you have a way to get the hen and chicks out of eye sight of each other the stress of separation will delay her laying eggs again anyway.
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    The momma of the one week old chicks is not going to adopt the older chicks. I'm not sure why you don't just put the momma and the older chicks all in the flock? Myself, I would have done it much sooner, while momma still had lots of hormones flowing and would be sure no one messed with her babies. I'd go ahead and let them all in together. Mommas will raise the babies in the flock and you won't have to worry about integrating half grown chicks later. I agree with enola that the hen won't go back to laying any faster if she can still see or hear her babies. I'm not sure separating them will help, it's really a hormonal thing.
     
  8. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As much as I would like to add everyone to the flock, I have an issue in that we have a cat who likes to hunt. She would pick off the chicks one by one until there were none left. That's the only reason I am keeping them penned at the moment.

    The other Momma does like the older chicks. They already cross over to her pen. But if you think it's not a good idea ATM I can continue to keep them all together.

    I have been letting the Momma of the older chicks out to socialise with the flock. And you're right - she seems to cope ok but then goes back and waits to be let back into the chick pen!

    I guess I'll just have to keep things as they are for now.

    Thanks for the advice,

    Krista
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
  9. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Victoria, Australia.
    Hi again everyone,

    There's been a bit of a development to this story, and I have posted a new message under the "Chicken Behaviours and Egg Laying" thread called "Separating Momma Hen from her Chicks."

    I would appreciate your thoughts regarding how things have evolved, and your comments on what I should do next (if anything.)

    Thanks in advance,

    Krista
     

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