Ask Lafeber

Question:

July 22, 2022

Mama and babies


Once the babies are eating on their own, can I remove them and Mama and put in a separate cage?
We don’t want more babies. If babies are all girls, can they live with Mama?


Answer:

Hi Michele,

You didn’t mention what kind of birds you have, but yes, chicks need to be removed from the parent’s cage as soon as they are eating on their own. You might be able to keep females with the mother – again, my advice might change based on the species.

But mainly, is the male a pet? Or will he just be stuck in a cage, alone and separated from his mate? With birds, there is no such thing as accidental babies. All you have to do is not give them a nest or nest box and throw away any eggs if they do lay any. You don’t have to let them sit on the eggs. Eggs are not viable when they are laid. It takes at least 48 hours of incubation around the clock for the first sign of any development to begin. So you aren’t killing chicks by discarding eggs if the eggs have never been incubated. I would let the pair remain together and follow these changes to discourage egg laying and nesting:

You need to do all of these things to discourage egg laying. Keep in mind that to lay eggs, she needs longer daylight, warmer weather, abundant food, and a quiet, private environment. Your goal is to reverse these conditions.

Limit her light to 8-10 hours by covering the cage early each evening

Do not give her anything to use as a nest – no bird huts or tents, no box, bowl, etc. If she decides to sit in a food bowl, remove it and replace with smaller cups.

Do not give her anything to shred such as paper or cardboard.

Rearrange the toys in the cage frequently.

Move the cage to a different place in the room. Move the cage about once a week, or whenever she shows signs of nesting – settling on the cage floor for example. This disrupts her idea of having a stable place to lay eggs and raise chicks.

If you feed a lot of fresh foods, stop offering any for a couple of weeks, and then only offer them in small amounts about 2 or 3 times a week. You can resume normal feeding later when the birds aren’t being hormonal.

If she is let out of the cage, do not let her get in any dark cozy places and don’t give her free roam.

When you handle her, limit any petting to her head and neck – do not pet her on the body. Only a bonded mate is allowed to groom the body. We can’t be a mate, so touching the body is off limits.

If there is no metal floor grate, then do not use any bedding or paper in the cage tray – leave it bare and clean it daily.

All of the above can apply to the pair, not just the hen.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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