Over the last week or so, I've been putting the "babies" into hog gates covered in chicken wire out in the yard so they can learn to scratch and play, with room to stretch their wings. Yesterday I was in such a rush, I didn't have time to deal with them escaping so I put them into the main adult chicken coop for the day after kicking the adults out to forage.
The babies were thrilled to be allowed so much room, and played all day from what I can tell. The adult hens were curious but went about their business because they've seen the babies out in the yard for the last week or so and the novelty was beginning to wear off.
When I finally got home from visiting family, it was well past dark, and the adult hens were more than ready to get into their coop to go to sleep. They had all roosted on the saddles again while they waited for me, and were cackling and chittering at me in welcome and greeting as I came into the barn. Some even jumped down and started walking over to their door. I think perhaps they thought I was going to remove those "offensive little fluffs" from their main residence, because when they realized I had locked them all into the same enclosure, there was some unhappy hens lemme tell you what!! LOL! They flapped back over to the door and started squawking in rather displeased chicken tones. When I continued choring the rest of the barn and ignoring them, they got miffed and jumped up on their roosting pallet (that the babies can't reach) and hunkered down with some soft growls. All but one.
Rosemary decided she was going to be the babies "mother & protector". She is the mother of the flock I swear... she is an ISA, she has no idea how to brood and gets bored/hungry/whatever after awhile and walks away from the plastic eggs she thinks need to be sat on, but something in her genetics is telling her to mother. She's been trying to go broody off and on for about 6-weeks now. Just before the babies arrived is when she first started in fact. Anyway... so while the 5 ISA's are up on their pallet grumbling about the annoying fluff's on the ground, Rosemary is down on the ground nudging them all, smelling them, chittering at them, and pecking them on the heads when they get out of line.
This is how I left them last night.
This morning, I go down to find Rosemary on the ground, with all the babies around her. There are more babies than she can fit under her, most of them didn't want to be kept warm this way anyway, but some did and when I open the gate, all the others rush out to go forage, but not Rosie. Rose, has decided she is going to prance around in front of the babies, and tell them what for, and is even growling at me a little bit as I go about collecting eggs and dumping chick starter on the ground for the littles.
I had to forcefully remove Rosie from the coop... strange bird...
She is the largest hen we have, has the pick of the food before the rest of the flock eats, and is our best layer. She has the prettiest feathers of them all with a nice rich red color mixed with white & a peachy color to her, and is one of the friendliest we have... till I integrated the babies into the flock and she decided to mother them all and protect them from the other flock members! lol!!
Goodness the comical behaviors of chickens are something to behold some days! LOL