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when is it safe to let a hen tale her chicks out with the rest of the flock

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Auroradream26, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. Auroradream26

    Auroradream26 Smothered in Feathers Premium Member

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    I have a mother silkie with 10 chicks that will be 3 weeks old over the next week (they hatched from a Tuesday through Friday). I let her take them out to free range for a half hour or so at a time before I let the rest of the flock out (they have their own small coop and run). Today I risked letting them out after I had let the big birds out. Cloud defended them from one member of the flock but allowed another to come over and peck her and one of the babies. Maybe I'm being overly protective but this is my first time with a broody and babies. I want her to integrate them into the flock but I'm afraid of the babies getting hurt, seperated from her and lost, or attacked by the other hens. Opinions?
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  2. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    10?! wow lol

    well it's the first? i would wait till their older if it were me. Silks are just to small in general and with that many mama cannot be everywhere.

    Now i will say this my mama silkie has her chicks with the flock(and has from the get-go) and they are only 3wks but i have had her with a clutch before so i know the rooster and all her previous kids from this year are in there as well as the original other adult hen. They are all silkies though, point being here is i know they are okay but with inexperienced birds/flocks no way, no how i separate..

    The good thing is silkies are more docile generally, my EE hens i let one set a clutch of Ameraucana eggs that one took longer.. geez,, flock politics lol

    Keys again know the flock and the birds within it.
     
  3. Auroradream26

    Auroradream26 Smothered in Feathers Premium Member

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    Lol. Honestly, she only started with 7. My OEGB hatched the other 3 but when she went crazy and tried to attack Clouds babies I had to remove her and put her back with the flock. Cloud adopted all of them lol. She's bigger than an normal silkie since she's TSC hatchery stock. So far she's doing great and she desperately wants out of the pen lol. My main roo did wander over with them earlier when I had them all out and was supervising. He just seemed curious and then chased our bantam roo off. Gotta love chickens!
     
  4. LanceTN

    LanceTN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If she is raising the chicks, stop interfering. She knows better then you. Provide food, water and shelter and let her figure out the rest.
     
  5. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    Well I tried that over the last couple days and both times it ended with two chickens flying at each other as they do in cock fights with the two week old chick underneath the battle both times nearly being trampled. Surely there has to be times they aren't working it out themselves without risking harm to the chicks and require interference.

    @Auroradream26. My broody is also a silkie and her place previously has been as the very meek and mild lowest member of the pecking order who never stood up to anyone. It is not going down well with our much larger flock members that she is growling at them when they get too close instead of her normal duck and run. I will be interested to see what ideas you are given to help them integrate with minimal risk of injury to the chicks.
     
  6. LanceTN

    LanceTN Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So the chicks didn't hatch in the flock? Then you need to handle this like integrating two completely separate flocks.

    Which means waiting many weeks until the chicks are much bigger.
     
  7. Auroradream26

    Auroradream26 Smothered in Feathers Premium Member

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    They actually started out with the rest of the flock. My girls brooded in the main coop and I had no intention of moving them. I was going to let them stay there from the start but after the first 2 hatched, somehow they feel out of the nest and the big girls killed the one like they would a mouse. I managed to get to the other one in time. I had to throw together a seperate broody pen within 2 days for them. My runs to the two coops are back to back so they can all see each other at all times. My OEGB who is the only actual bantam hen that I have (my two silkies are about as big as the big girls) was seperated from the flock for 2 weeks in there but integrated right back into the flock when I put her back in. My hope was that I could let them all out together after the babies were slightly bigger, especially since they've been able to see each other the whole time and that Cloud would integrate them in with everyone else and get them into the main coop before winter on her own. But I am new to this so....

    lol, you don't know me and my girls. I'm not the hands off type, especially with my animals. I baby them and spoil them. Even the babies already come running when I come over to see what kind of goodies I may have for them.
     
  8. TaraBellaBirds

    TaraBellaBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Normally I would be with LanceTN on this issue. Broodies know how to do their jobs and they usually do it well. In this case though, I have to go with Going Quackers, that is a lot of babies for one Broody. If the flock has already shown aggression they may well do it again, and Mama may not be able to protect them all.

    I always leave my broodies in with the flock but they never have more than 4 or 5 max. I did have to remove my last batch because I still had meat birds in with the flock, Broody was trying to get them all to eat and the meaties trampled a baby's head (I grabbed the poor thing and it was fine). They spent about 4 days in the brooing room while the babies got a bit bigger and faster, and I removed the meaties for processing.

    You should always do what YOU think is best for your flock. You knew to issolate them in the beginning and I think you will know when the babies are ready to move in with the flock. My only advice for this situation is to do it before Mama stops brooding them, that way they still have her protection! Good luck!
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Why did the chicks fall out of the nest? That’s probably a physical problem you can solve before your next hatch. It’s possible the lip is a little low but since the eggs were not scratched out that is probably not the problem. My guess is that the nest is kind of small, Mama was sitting close to the edge, and a chick climbed up on Mama’s back and fell off. You might want to look at that before the next hatch. Since that happened to me I now only allow them to hatch in a fairly big nest.

    Each chicken has its own personality and each flock has its own dynamics. We all have different set-ups. What is normal in one flock will not work in another. One key to having animals is that you need to be flexible enough to handle different situations as they come up. My broodies hatch and raise the chicks with the flock, usually a lot more than 4 or 5. My maximum so far was one hen that raised 15 chicks I hatched in an incubator. The timing worked out well so I could just give them to her instead of raising them myself. I’ve lost chicks but never to another adult flock member.

    Different broodies raise their chicks differently. Some of mine keep the chicks close to her at all times. Some let the chicks roam far and wide, intermingling with other adult flock members. Some broodies are more protective than others. If there is a problem Mama sorts it out pretty quickly but there are hardly ever any problems. Other people have different results.

    It’s not unusual when a chick invades the personal space of another adult that the adult gives the chick a peck to remind it that it is bad chicken etiquette for that chick to bother its betters. It doesn’t always happens but it is not unusual. The chick normally runs back to Mama, the broody ignores this, and life goes on. If the hen tries to follow or threated the chick, Mama whips butt. That’s normal in my flock. What would not be normal is another chicken pecking a broody. I don’t understand that.

    You are looking at it. You have to decide what is best for your flock. It’s possible you have a broody that is not very protective of her chicks. It’s possible you have a hen that is going out of her way to be dangerous to the chicks. I’ve never had one of those but that is the kind of behavior that would volunteer her for my dinner table. You may be overly concerned over a normal happening that presents no real threat to the chicks. You may have a dangerous situation. I can’t tell from here.

    If it is one aggressive hen you might try isolating her from the flock until the chicks are older. You might want to raise the chicks apart from the flock and try integrating them yourself later. You may decide the threat isn’t all that great and leave them as they are. I can’t tell you what to do but maybe this will help you decide. Good luck!
     
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  10. Auroradream26

    Auroradream26 Smothered in Feathers Premium Member

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    Thanks for all that advice. I'm going to take it slow and take them out with supervision a bit at a time and try not to intervene unless necessary. I think what happened when they feel out of the nest is that another hen probably tried to climb in the box to lay with my broody. There was probably a scuffle and the babies fell out. Not knowing what they were and thinking they were probably big bugs or something, the hen probably grabbed the one and took off running. Mama was still waiting for two other eggs to hatch so didn't go to the rescue. That's my thoughts on it. The box she was in is a big one. 15" x 14" with a good 4" lip but the straw is only about an inch below the lip. Yesterday when I had them all out, there really want any aggression, just curiosity mostly. The one that came over and pecked my broody and her baby seemed like she wanted to see what they were digging for and she actually picked something up and dropped it for one of the babies (she's a Brahma/marans cross). I'll keep everyone posted on how things go and I'll keep taking it slow. I now have another girl who just decided to go broody too lol
     

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