When to move momma hen and her chicks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Doctor Pammie, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. Doctor Pammie

    Doctor Pammie Out Of The Brooder

    Not sure if this is the right place or under "Broody Hens," but I'll try here. Our first ever broody hen has hatched out 16 chicks that are now 3 weeks old. They have been occupying a spare stall in our barn here in central Virginia, where night time temps are dropping regularly into mid-40s. We have a moveable coop (3' x 4') attached to a somewhat mobile run (6' x 8') inside our main ranging area, which is two lengths of electronet fencing. We were thinking of moving the momma hen and chicks to these accommodations soon, but we're wondering if it's too soon? We've only offered supplemental heating the first week and only at night, so the chicks have been getting used to a wide-range of day time temps that have fluctuated from high 30's twice in the AM to mostly high 60's. Their wing feathers are growing nicely, but obviously they have a long way to go. Mama manages to get all of them under her somehow when she's settling down. Also, at what point would you let the Momma and her chicks mix with the rest of the flock? Our flock is a mix of 7 mature hens, 6 pullets, 1 mature rooster and 2 others that are close to mature (all co-existing more or less peacefully as this is a lot of room for ranging), but we also have 2 Muscovy drakes (about 15-18 lbs each) and 5 Muscovy hens. The Muscovies are fairly new to us since we've raised them from chicks when we bought them about 4 months ago. They get along fine with the other birds and vice versa. We have a pop hole that would allow only chickens in/out of the coop when we decide to mix the babies with the others, but I am wondering if this is enough. Would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Since you raised the chicks separate from the rest of the flock, the safest time to integrate them with the adults is after they have grown to about the same size as the adults, aorund 4 or 5 months old. The mama will probably want to leave her chcks and rejoin the lfock way before that, somewhere around 6 to 8 weeks. It might be best to just leave the chicks in the barn til they are older, not so much for the warmer temp as safety from adult attack.

    Another way to do this is to let the mama hen raise her chicks in with the rest of the flock from day of hatch. If she is a good mama, she will protect her chicks from any aggressive hens, until whenever she is through with mothering.

    However -- I have never owned a duck or Muscovy and have no idea how this would fit into the picture.
     
  3. Doctor Pammie

    Doctor Pammie Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you for the reply. Can you move a mother hen and day old chicks? This hatch came about as a total surprise to us as we thought this hen had been captured and taken away by a predator. We heard peeping and found her midway through hatching out her chicks. I don't think it occurred to either of us to move them at that point, especially since this is her first hatch and there were SO MANY babies! We were thinking of putting them in the portable pen/coop combo that's in the middle of our very large electronet enclosed field and then allowing them to roam under supervision. There's a pop hole that the ducks could not get in and we were thinking of making a low shelter that the chicks could run under to escape from any thing (like a piece of plywood propped up by a few bricks--tall enough for chicks, but no one else.)
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    While probably not ideal, I would think it would work, at least in most cases. I've done it, and my personal experience is limited. The mama has a strong instrinct to stay with and protect her chicks,.

    Lots of people have successfully used the chick-sized escape hole, as well, though.
     

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