Will hen eventually accept chicks after rejecting them?

brycepj

In the Brooder
Dec 17, 2019
16
24
36
We let a broody hatch some chicks but we wanted to introduce a new breed of chicks, so we picked up a few day olds from a local source and tried sneakily adding them to the others when they hatched the next day.
The mother immediately recognized them as not hers and would peck them when they tried to eat or gather under her. Any chance this is the kind of thing she will eventually accept, or do we need to raise them ourselves?
 

Allsfairinloveandbugs

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Feb 10, 2020
1,028
3,275
481
Far north texas
I have "snuck" feedstore chicks under broody hens many times, because like you i wanted breeds i didnt have. Over time i learned which hens would gladly accept any and all chicks, & which hens would reject or even outright kill chicks they recognized as not their own. BUT, i also finally discovered a 100% fool-proof way to give feedstore chicks to those same broodys that had previously rejected chicks they hadnt themselves hatched. My key to 100% sucess is this. After the broody has hatched all her own chicks, but BEfore she ever takes her own chicks out of the nest box for the first time, put the chicks u want her to adopt in the nestbox with her and her own hatched chicks. Do this at night in the dark, when hen and all chicks will be quiet & still. The adoptee chicks will have all night to get cozy and comfy under mama hen & snuggle with her hatched chicks. The next morn, when the broody hen takes the chicks out and sees her new family for the first time, she will accept All the chicks as hers. 100% sucess rate even with a hen who previously killed introduced chicks. I agree u will likely need to raise your current chicks separately in a brooder, since your broody has seen and rejected them. But NEXT time, i believe she will accept adopted chicks if u take the above action. The whole key is dont allow her to see her own hatched chicks until after u have introduced the ones u want her to adopt.
 

brycepj

In the Brooder
Dec 17, 2019
16
24
36
I have "snuck" feedstore chicks under broody hens many times, because like you i wanted breeds i didnt have. Over time i learned which hens would gladly accept any and all chicks, & which hens would reject or even outright kill chicks they recognized as not their own. BUT, i also finally discovered a 100% fool-proof way to give feedstore chicks to those same broodys that had previously rejected chicks they hadnt themselves hatched. My key to 100% sucess is this. After the broody has hatched all her own chicks, but BEfore she ever takes her own chicks out of the nest box for the first time, put the chicks u want her to adopt in the nestbox with her and her own hatched chicks. Do this at night in the dark, when hen and all chicks will be quiet & still. The adoptee chicks will have all night to get cozy and comfy under mama hen & snuggle with her hatched chicks. The next morn, when the broody hen takes the chicks out and sees her new family for the first time, she will accept All the chicks as hers. 100% sucess rate even with a hen who previously killed introduced chicks. I agree u will likely need to raise your current chicks separately in a brooder, since your broody has seen and rejected them. But NEXT time, i believe she will accept adopted chicks if u take the above action. The whole key is dont allow her to see her own hatched chicks until after u have introduced the ones u want her to adopt.
Thanks so much for this. This hen was very aggressive and wouldn’t give up trying to push away the feed store chicks. I ended up taking them back inside and raising them there. Your method sounds like the right approach. I’ll give that a try next time. I really appreciate the thoughtful, detailed response.
 

chickenhappy1233

Songster
Oct 15, 2020
288
635
151
We let a broody hatch some chicks but we wanted to introduce a new breed of chicks, so we picked up a few day olds from a local source and tried sneakily adding them to the others when they hatched the next day.
The mother immediately recognized them as not hers and would peck them when they tried to eat or gather under her. Any chance this is the kind of thing she will eventually accept, or do we need to raise them ourselves?
i tried this once and lost 2 chicks, if she doesnt accept them i would just raise the yourself
 

Acre4Me

Crossing the Road
Nov 12, 2017
6,651
21,567
877
Western Ohio
In the dark, at night, is key to success - of course, not a guarantee bc each momma hen may react a bit differently.

since she brooded and accepted hatched chicks,her hormones are in the right place. Sincefeed store chicks are same age, that also helps. But, under very low light (so you don’t hurt yourself) or in the dark, late at night when momma is already settled and likely asleep is when you gently and quietly place chicks under her. She may wake up but she won’t freak out bc birds are hardwired to be calm or asleep in the dark or very low light. She will likely accept them.


I once watched a video of two batches of chicks same age ...on batch had a momma hen, the other batch did not. They were placed near each other but motherless chicks could get away from aggressive momma. Two of the chicks managed to get into her little brood themselves...during the day. They successful ones kept trying to insert themselves into her brood and eventually she allowed it. She was pecking at all the intruders, but some gave up after 1 try or 2 tries. The successful ones did not give up. Also, no one chick stood out. They did not all look alike, but there was not a distinctly different one (like a white chick amongst dark ones).

Good luck in the future!
 

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