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Would a Mother Hen Know if One of Her Chicks is Missing?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SproutGirl, May 9, 2009.

  1. SproutGirl

    SproutGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 3, 2008
    Missoula, Montana
    I currently have a broody hen who is sitting on a nest of 11 eggs. some of those eggs are meant to give to a friend who wants to raise chickens. But. I am wondering, will the hen know if some of her babies are missing? We will probably let her raise them for a while because it's easier and because my friend is getting married and then will build his chicken coop. Will she notice that some of her chicks are gone when he comes to get them? Does a hen count her chicks? Does she know them individually? Does anyone have any experience with taking chicks from a mother hen? Thanks for your thoughts.
     
  2. pascopol

    pascopol Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:No animal can count, hen can not tell the difference between 2 chicks or 20 chicks.
     
  3. WiseChicks

    WiseChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think it depends on the individual hen. I've had those who are totally conscientious about their chicks, and I just had asilkie who abandoned her 3 day old chick in a rainstorm to go sit on the eggs (that are probably never going to hatch). I got the chick in and dried and warm, and h made it a few days, but I couldn't get him to figure out the whole eating thing. I fed him with a toothpick, and I put his beak in the food and even put him in with other chicks to learn by example, but he didn't make it. [​IMG]
     
  4. SproutGirl

    SproutGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Ha ha. That reminds me of something funny I read once. It said, "Think your dog can't count? Show him 3 biscuits, put them in your pocket, and then only give him 2."
     
  5. lockedhearts

    lockedhearts It's All About Chicken Math

    Apr 29, 2007
    Georgia
    While animals can't "count", I do know that when my Jack Russell has puppies, she knows when one is not in the whelping box.
     
  6. SproutGirl

    SproutGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, and people do take puppies away from their mothers once they are weaned. Is there a weaning age for chickens so as not to upset the mother?
     
  7. Ducklove334

    Ducklove334 Off to another pond

    Nov 4, 2008
    Virginia
    chickens will usually raise their babies for about 4-7 weeks, if I'm right, one of our momma hens gave her baby the boot at about 4 and 1/2 weeks, and now the baby is over 6 weeks, and she hardly knows the baby exists

    and I just had asilkie who abandoned her 3 day old chick in a rainstorm to go sit on the eggs

    our silkie did the same thing!

    well, not the rainstorm, but she just hatched out 3 chicks from eggs we gave her, and then out of the blue I found her sitting on eggs again, ofcourse I took her off the nest,took the eggs, and tryed to put her back with the babies, but she ignored them, so I put them all except one in the chick room.the other one our other broody with babies is raising
     
  8. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
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    I don't think they notice or "count". That's why they communicate by clucking & cheeping. If a chick gets left behind it will shriek until Mama comes back for it, and Mama clucks to signal her whereabouts to her chicks.

    But why not wait until the hen is ready to leave the chicks before giving some to your friend? Most hens are done by 10 weeks, most of them long before that, even. Your friend will still have time to tend to growing chicks, but they'll all have the benefit of Mom's complete imput.
     

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