Maternity wing dilemma

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CWB
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Maternity wing dilemma

Post by CWB » Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:44 am

After a nasty chickicide incident last month, we built our broody hen a maternity wing to hatch her eggs. She managed to hatch one last week, and we plan to keep them segregated for six weeks, as our chicken book recommends. However, one of our other hens is now sitting, so will (hopefully!) be hatching hers in about three weeks. So the question is, do we put the broody hen in the maternity wing a) now, b) just before she's due to hatch (so when the new chick is three weeks old), or c) not at all (and leave her to the mercy of the rest of the flock)? We're not sure how the new mother is likely to react to another hen in the maternity wing ...
Any advice gratefully received!
Thanks :)
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chrismahon
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Re: Maternity wing dilemma

Post by chrismahon » Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:09 am

I saw a video (French) of a nasty Pekin attacking a sitting hen CWB. Her comb was pecked very badly and blood was running down her face but she refused to leave her clutch. That shouldn't have been allowed to happen because the sitting hen should have been securely isolated and that's what you need to do immediately.

Not sure how the other hen with the chick will react though if you put them together though? She may attack the sitter seeing her as a threat to her chick. Can you create another brooding unit? Perhaps get a rabbit hutch from somewhere?

What puzzles me is what you are going to do with the single chick? The first broody needs to be carefully re-introduced to the flock as she is now an outsider, but the chick can't be left alone and is very likely to be attacked if put with the other adults. We never put youngsters in with adults until they are at least 6 months old because until then they cannot defend themselves. You should be able to integrate the first chick with the second hatch once they are old enough to leave their mother (not easy because the flock hierarchy is established at one week) but until then you need to buy another chick of the same age for company.

A difficult situation all round and one which will take some very careful managing.
CWB
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Re: Maternity wing dilemma

Post by CWB » Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:42 pm

Oh dear, this sounds even more complicated than we thought! We can't get another brooding unit, we haven't got the space (and it took my husband all weekend to make the first one), so we're going to have to find a way of integrating them. The current maternity wing is sectioned off from the main run, so the main flock can see the mum and her chick through the wire - perhaps that will stop Flora (the mum) being an outsider? We'll just have to see how Ava (the chick) gets on ... the only other option open to us is to put one or both of them in the (also adjacent) dog pen, but we can't do that at the moment because Ava is so small, the dogs would almost certainly go for her in a way they don't with the adults. However, we may not have the immediate problem that I first thought, as the second broody mum sat on the wrong clutch of eggs this morning, and although her own clutch weren't cold, they certainly weren't as warm as usual, so we may have lost them anyway.
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Marigold
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Re: Maternity wing dilemma

Post by Marigold » Thu Jul 07, 2016 6:13 pm

So if she sat on the wrong clutch of eggs this morning, does that mean you actually have two broodies on the go? I'm not sure where the 'wrong clutch' fits in to your planning.
Do you actually want more chicks? If space is at a premium and you can't easily segregate a second hen and her brood, and if she's a bit scatty anyway about her sitting, why not cure her of her broodiness, feed the eggs to the dogs, and give the present chick and her mum enough room to live alongside the others until you can integrate them in a few weeks time. Unplanned maternity is really not necessary when it probably entails yet more crowding in the run as they grow up, and yet more cockerel chicks to dispose of....
A broody should certainly be separated from the flock, in a small pen of her own, to sit and hatch in peace. If this isn't really possible, then don't do it.
CWB
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Re: Maternity wing dilemma

Post by CWB » Mon Jul 11, 2016 8:37 am

Thanks, Marigold. We're trying to encourage chicks to increase the flock, but maybe this isn't the best way of doing it. Our current broody hen is in a crate in the main hen house and has so far been untroubled by the others - the other morning, she sat on the newly laid clutch of eggs from the other hens in the other crate, but hers were still warm, so I plonked her back on them, and she's been there ever since. We were quite keen to let her hatch some more, as hers was the chick that was killed by the others last month. Anyway, it seems like we're going to have to sort something out before she's due to hatch in a few weeks' time. On the plus side, little Ava (the chick born 10 days ago) is doing well! It does seem crazy that something so natural is so fraught with problems. :-/
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