When Do You Separate a Mama Hen from her Chicks?

Home » The Homestead » Keeping Chickens & Chicken Care » When Do You Separate a Mama Hen from her Chicks?

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases. Posts may contain affiliate links.

There comes a time when a mama hen and the chicks need to part ways. How do you know when?

Something that is often asked, is…

“When do you know it is time to take a mother hen and separate her from the chicks?”

In this episode I discuss that very topic.

To know when that time has come, look for one of two things.

I add several new posts every week – Sign Up for the Free Newsletter and Never Miss a Thing!

Mama is Stressed Out!

When the mama hen is agitated and does not want to be around the chicks, you need to let her go. It doesn’t really matter if the chicks just hatched, or if they are fully feathered. Some mamas call it quits just after the eggs have hatched. If that is the case, you’ll simple have to move the baby chicks to a brooder. If you leave the mama in with the chicks, and she doesn’t want to be there, she may turn on the chicks and start killing them.

When Do You Separate a Mama Hen from her Chicks? | Cosmopolitan Cornbread

Her First Egg

When a hen goes broody, she stops laying eggs. But after the chicks have hatched out there will come a point where she begins laying eggs again. If there was any doubt before, then that is when you know for certain that time time has come. Just before she lays that egg, you may notice that she attempts to leave when you go in to feed and water. That is what has happened for me. But if there is any doubt, when you see that first egg, you’ll know.

After you let her out, she may still hang around and protect the chicks from the outside of the pen (cage/tractor or whatever you have the chicks inside) and that’s perfectly normal. She may have not yet given up all her motherly instincts, but she needed her space from the young’uns. The mama hen you see there would chase all of the other chickens away from the chicken tractor, even though she had no interest in being in there any longer. The first night, she had no interest in going back into the chicken tractor with the chicks. Instead she hopped right up into the coop with the rest of the flock. After a couple days, she no longer hung around the chicken tractor with the chicks, and instead wandered off and did her own thing.

17 thoughts on “When Do You Separate a Mama Hen from her Chicks?”

  1. It seems my mother hen has stopped protecting almost avoid her only chick that hatched at about 6 weeks ago Is this normal behavior for mother hen? I feel so bad for the baby as she’s the youngest of 12.

  2. Thank you for this information. My hen and her 4 chicks are doing well. They are 6 weeks old and the temp outside is dropping daily as it is fall. I was thinking of putting mum back with her flock during the day then in the maternity wing at night. The maternity wing is next to the main hen house divides by wire mesh. Once I do this will she want to be with them or maybe abanandom them?

  3. I would like to hatch chicks to be adopted by other families. I have several broody Silkies.

    Should I use an incubator or let them hatch the chicks? I’m concerned they may be sad if they hatch them and then they are taken away.

  4. I have a first time mama we have four so far alive two that were still born the four that are alive the good ones will say she packed them on the side of the head the other two look like they just hatched and she picked one in between the wings I have them underneath the lamp they’re only like it I want to say not even in our old when we found them is that normal for a mama to pack at them

  5. I have a hen whih hatched chicks today and i wanted to bring 2 or 3 chicks inside in a cage so that if the others die I’ll at least have two. there are more chances of chicks dying in the open. Is this a good idea or not. If not what should I do.

    • A great read thank you !
      I have a mamma hen and 1 chick ( 7 wks ) in a separate coop. The mother hen has just started laying. We have another 4 hens in a separate coop.
      I’d love your advice around how to integrate the chick and hen back into the flock. The mother hen is ready to leave and I think the baby is also but I worried about how to do it. We are on a farm and the flock free range during the day and come back to lay and at night. Should I try to keep the chick separate at night of just let them sort it out. I’ve been feeding them close to one another so they are familiar.
      Thanks heaps ! 🐣🐓

  6. I have a hen who hatched three chicks from only two eggs. I’m sure I didn’t miss an egg or another hen hatched one.
    All three chicks seem healthy and happy. What I would like to know is what are the odds of getting two healthy chicks from one egg?

  7. Our neighbor moved and left their chickens. Now we have chickens and roosters running free everywhere. Can these chickens be cooped up again. Or will they be too stressed and not good for laying eggs?

    • Yes, you can put them in a coop & run, and they may not lay for a few days while they get accustomed to their new surroundings. But once they know it is home, they should be fine with a good diet and healthy environment. Be careful about the ratio of hens to roosters though. You should only have about 1 rooster per 10 hens. Less if the roosters fight too much.

    • Maybe not cooped up, but you can make sort of like one of those Dog Runs. And just have a place for them to sleep ND eat dry food and have clean water. Atleast they are safer. :-)

  8. How old were the chicks when your hen started trying to get out? I have a momma and 4 week old chicks that are fine together, but I have someone that wants to get the chicks. Does it matter at this point if I separate them from the momma hen or should I wait?

    • If you *want* to separate the chicks, you can really do that at any time. The person who wants the chicks would simply raise them like any other chicks. Give them a brooder, or safe place to grow and they will be fine :)


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.