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When to re-integrate hen and her chicks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by marymac, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. marymac

    marymac Songster

    Jul 12, 2008
    Northeast Ohio
    My chicks will be 3 wk. this coming Monday. So far the mommy is still with them in the brooding pen. I was wondering about when and how to put them all together in the coop. Brooding pen is inside the coop so they have all been together only separated. Will the bigger hens pick on the babies or can mom defend them. She is a little silky but is pretty fiesty.

  2. marymac

    marymac Songster

    Jul 12, 2008
    Northeast Ohio
    Any one have any ideas?
  3. Glenda L Heywood

    Glenda L Heywood Songster

    Apr 11, 2009
    generally hens kill newhatched chicks
    but since the hen is with them they might get along okay with the other hens
    since they have been in same area seeing each other
    I doubt that if the hens attack the chicks they will do one one one
    more like several from several different dirrections
    so it may be necessary for you to let the hen and chicks wait till they are 4 months old or older to intigrate them
  4. cgmccary

    cgmccary Songster

    Sep 14, 2007
    NE Alabama
    For what it is worth:

    I have this dilemma from year to year. I have never had a problem with adult hens killing or even bothering chicks-- all the hens completely ignore the chicks (at least mine do)-- I understand all flocks are different, this is just my experience-- instead, it is the mother hen fighting the other hens that is usually the problem (mother hens will do this even though no other hen is showing ANY interest in her chicks whatsoever--) the chicks are real fast too-- they stay out of the way.

    Each year, I let a couple of hens hatch a clutch and raise them. One time (last year), I let a hen brood them in the main run with all the other adult birds from Day 1. It matters the "rank" of the hen. It matters the breeds you keep. My other hens were a bunch of Buckeye hens and 1 Buff Orp; they are pretty mild & never have I observed them in a "killer mode" (I realize this could all change one day). This particular mother hen, though my ONLY bantam, was an OEG and kept all the hens away from her chicks, but she wasn't overly aggressive. The hens all learned just to keep a short distance from the chicks & peace was maintained. Also, I had lots of room in my run. It was only when mother hen weaned them that the young chicks got run around by the other hens.

    Also, in the past, I have had brood pens within the main run where the chicks could squeeze out but mother hen could not follow them-- the chicks ran out with ALL the other adult birds continuously & would run back when the mother hen called them or to get warm. The other hens paid the chicks no mind.

    This year, as in the past, I had things split up so I currently have two hens (1 Buckeye & the old OEG Bantam) with chicks, 7 & 5, respectively & they are in brood pens separate and the chicks can't get out. I tried letting the OEG out with her 3 week olds but the Buckeye hens & the little OEG fought (and I was afraid they'd crush her and even though I know she would have fought to the death, I wasn't going to allow it to happen) so back in the brood pen they went. All I can tell you is: if you decide to do it earlier than the 4 months suggested (or you have to for other reasons), make sure there is plenty of room for mother & chicks to escape & get to themselves AND make sure you are out there for a couple of hours watching things-- this is what I have always done in the past.

    Just as a side note: I have always been amazed at how particular we are at keeping our chicks in heated brooders (& my favorite, no drafts), but I have had mother hens out in the worst elements, cold (30s) & very windy (an icy wind), storming & there are newly hatched chicks running with their mother like little bugs & doin fine. I've watched them, worried, many times-- but I find the mother hen seems to "know" that they need covering and warmed up, takes out of the storm, etc.
  5. marymac

    marymac Songster

    Jul 12, 2008
    Northeast Ohio
    So if I keep the chicks in their own separate pen, when do I remove the momma?
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    cgmccary gives excellent advice. As long as mama has enough room to work with, she will defend her chicks until they can take care of themselves. And if the chicks are raised with the flock, major integration issues are already taken care of. There can always be an exception, but you generally have no major problems if mama has enough room.

    The chicks will be OK after they fully feather out, usually 4 to 5 weeks. When mama stops keeping them warm and stops taking care of them, it is time to pull her out.

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