How long should babies stay with their parents?

by Pam
(Richmond, VA USA)

Here I am again, the one with the "surprise" breeding pair in my classroom of 5 year olds. The male and female have been great parents. The "babies" are as big as the parents; they are now 2 months old. My question is when do I have to take the babies out of the parents' cage? It's big enough, and I don't want them to breed again, at least until school is back in session, but the mama looks a little stressed sometimes (the babies demand to be fed even though they can eat on their own, and the parents have to fend them off). Is this all par for the course? Are they OK together until the babies get their colors? Thanks so much!

Hi Pam,

Good to hear from you. Congratulations. You've done a great job!!!

When the babies can eat on their own, it's safe to separate them from their parents. Are any of the chicks showing signs of having a colored feather appear on its breast? If you can see that, it is definitely safe to separate the juveniles. Keeping them all together won't prevent the pair from starting a second clutch. The male is usually quite ready to mate again and have his teenagers move out. In many cases the male will display a bit of parental aggression toward the young especially if they try to enter the nest or if they keep begging for food. Your description of the female's behaviour is great. The hens just look to me as if they don't know what to do.

Yes, all that you describe sounds normal. If you want to stop the pair from breeding again, remove the nest and dispose of any eggs that show up. If you do that, they most likely will be content to all stay together in one cage as a family. It is only necessary to separate the chicks if a parent gets aggressive. Also, if you do take down the nest, shorten the number of daylight hours and decrease the temperature a bit at a time.

Best of luck, Jeanie

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