I am currently sitting outside as I write this post, supervising. I have been very brave (hopefully not stupid) and I have let the 6 week old chicks and their mama out to free range while the two Barnevleders (Hilda and Helen Hen) are also out and about. I have let mama hen and her chicks out three times now while the big girls have been locked in their run. The big girls have been able to free range alongside the chicks run ever since the chicks were a few days old so neither is a surprise to each other. Mama (Hannah Hen) is a feisty partridge wyandotte bantam who has lived in the wild for a few years before I “rescued” her (even though she didn’t need rescuing). Then I got two Barnevelder pullets to keep her company. Hannah Hen has always been number one in the pecking order but she hasn’t needed to be a bully as the two Barnevelders were young and instantly knew their place with this matronly old bantam. As I mentioned previously, Helen did try a pecking order challenge on Hannah while Hannah was sitting, so Helen is the one that I am worried about. I am worried that she might “go for” Hannah or one of the chicks and cause a ruckus that might frighten the chicks and they might panic. So what happened? They were all good for a while. Helen had a bit of an attitude and followed Hannah and the chicks round but Hannah showed her that she was still boss. One look from Hannah and Helen would look the other way and causally saunter off. That is until Helen saw an opportunity …. Helen Hen saw Hannah Hen and the chicks under some bushes so Helen (on the left) decided to use surprise as her attack. Poor innocent Hilda Hen is looking on, having no idea what was going on. She doesn’t have a malicious bone in her body. That is her on the right with the big fluffy bottom. I think it was Helen Hen that got the biggest surprise when Hannah Hen flew at her from under the bushes. This counter attack lasted seconds and Helen got up and scurried away with only her pride hurt. But what did poor dear innocent Hilda Hen do just after this? She just wanted to scratch and peck under the same bush as mama and the chicks. So she did. She poked her head under the bush and started to peck at the seeds on the ground beside the chicks. Hannah Hen did not appreciate this and didn’t seem to notice (or care) that Hilda Hen was non threatening. Hannah Hen grabbed her by the back of the neck and she pecked and pecked and squawked and scratched and pecked some more at poor Hilda’s neck. I went over to see if I could get Hannah off as she looked as though she was not going to stop until there was blood or worse. But then I hesitated. Not a good idea to put my hand in there. I have already been on the receiving end of Hannah’s chick protection antics. After 30 seconds or so (which seemed like forever), Hannah stopped. Poor Hilda got up and stepped back with a look of disbelief and bewilderment. I grabbed the treat tin and put Hilda and Helen in their coop to protect my poor dear innocent heavy Hilda Hen. I checked her over and there was no blood, thank goodness. Later I put Hannah and the chicks back into their coop and let the Barnies out again. I went out a bit later to check on Hilda and there she was sitting as close to Hannah as she could get with only the wire of the run between them, both preening themselves as though nothing had happened. I am new to chicks and protective mama hens and I have no idea whether this is normal or whether Hannah was being particularly protective / aggressive. I’ll have to have a serious think about whether I let them out again together for a while. Maybe once the chicks are a bit older, mama won’t be so protective?