When can the Mama and Chicks be in General Population

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Steph Martin, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. Steph Martin

    Steph Martin Out Of The Brooder

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    May 7, 2011
    Nova Scotia Canada
    I've had a lot of problems in the last two weeks with raccoons, cats, and now space.

    I have a Silkie who hatched out four babies and has been free ranging with her babes for about five weeks. Yesterday, a big cat came into the back yard and attacked the chicks...all got to safety but the cat is hanging about and I'm not losing anymore to the wildlife around here.

    Question: Can I put Silkie Mama and babies in with four hens and a rooster. Silkie and the other hens were of the same flock before she got broody but she was picked on a bit. The rooster has been with the hens for about a month or so. They have all been in sight of each other since the babies hatched. If it is safe to integrate them how should I go about it?

    Thanks!!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Each chicken has its own personality and each flock has its own dynamics. We all have different set-ups and goals. There is no one answer that is correct fort each and every one of us.

    I have plenty of room, which may be different from you with your current predator problems, but I let Mama raise the chicks with the flock. I normally separate the hen and chicks for a day or two when she brings them off the nest so the chicks can learn to eat and drink without interference from the older hens, but then I let them mix as Mama wishes. I find that the other hens love to eat the chick's feed which I put close to the ground instead of the feed in their regular feeder, although it is the same feed. When I have young chicks in the flock, they all get Starter or Grower instead of Layer so the chicks don't get the extra calcium that can harm them. I just put oyster shell on the side for the laying hens.

    My roosters normally helps Mama take care of her chicks, epecially if she gets separated from them by a fence. Some people have reported that a rooster attacked the new chicks, but I find that to be extremely rare. They are all individuals, though, so anything can happen.

    A good broody will defend her chicks from any danger, including the other hens. Usually the broody has such a bad attitude the other hens learn to leave the chicks alone real quickly. But again, they are individuals. Some broodies are not real good at protecting their chicks and some hens try to attack young chicks. Mine normally leave the chicks alone unless the chicks leave Mama's protection and invade the private space of the other hen. Then the other hen gives the chick a peck and the chick runs flying back to Mama. Usually Mama ignores this behavior unless the hen is actively attacking her chick. According to chicken etiquette, that chick has to learn not to invade the personal space of a superior (meaning older) hen.

    What will happen if you put Mama and her babies in with the flock? I don't know in your specific case. But I do it all the time and have yet to lose a chick to another chicken. Yours are already 5 weeks old, but if Mama is still protective, she probably has a bad enough attitude that the others will leave her alone, though she may have to kcik some butt initially.

    Good luck however you decide.
     
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    As ridgerunner said, it just depends on your flock, your hen, and the space they'll have to get away from the others. If she's been removed from the flock for 5 weeks, there's a good chance your hen will have some issues reintegrating.

    When I reintegrated my broody and chicks with the flock, the chicks did fine, but the hen had a hard time. She began hiding on the roost all day and she quit eating. I carried her out of the coop every day. I'd sit and hold her, then put her down by my feet. (after I threw out some scratch to give the others something to do besides chase her) At first, she'd bolt back into the coop. But then she'd begin staying out longer, then she started eating some of the scratch. Then I noticed her crop was filling up at night again, so she was eating again. If she felt threatened, she'd run back to me for protection. She ended up reintegrating fine into the flock, but she was my lap chicken after that.
     
  4. Steph Martin

    Steph Martin Out Of The Brooder

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    May 7, 2011
    Nova Scotia Canada
    Many thanks for your advice. There has been so much going on here without a minute to breathe. I've had chickens before and always let the hen decide for herself if she wanted her babies around the others in the flock but they were free range and the situation's different here. It's easy to read too much and then read too much into the situation. As they say "a little knowledge is dangerous" [​IMG]
     

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