Last week Banana’s chicks reached 8 weeks old and we decided it was time to integrate her and them back into the big flock. We generally wait until 7-8 weeks to move chicks in with the flock that free-ranges because we worry the barn cats will potentially kill the chicks if they are smaller than that age.
Banana was very happy to move on with her life as soon as we put them in with the flock. She was done raising her chicks. This is the same age she decided to leave her last brood as well. The chicks stayed together as a group and began learning their place in the flock without the protection of their mama.
Meanwhile, our Black Australorp hen, Daisy, had been trying to go broody. Our breeding season is over at this point, so we were taking any eggs she was sitting on and pushing her out of the nest each day, trying to break her of it. At some point, a few days after Banana and her chicks had moved in, Daisy noticed the chicks. It is kind of funny, since they were already so big at 8 weeks of age, but Daisy decided they were her babies. She took over as their mama and is protecting them, letting them sleep under her wings, helping them find food, and overall mothering them.
This last weekend we removed the three cockerel chicks to put them in the grow-out pen, so now she just has the two pullet chicks left. She is so happy to have her adopted babies! Here she is sunning with her two pullet chicks.
It was a surprising turn of events. We didn’t know that a hen would adopt another hen’s chicks, especially when they were so old. But at least it got her out of the nest box, and the chicks feel much happier and more confidant with someone protecting them.