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Is mom turning on her babies? We just lost one!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

So my kiddos just brought us a "sleeping" chickie :(I caught the mom pecking her chicks earlier (And this particular one) when they were all trying to eat... It didn't look friendly, and I don't think my kids did this (there was some blood and it does look like we found a couple rips under its wing and on its eyelid). Could our mama suddenly be trying to off her chicks?! She did kill another chick that wasn't hers over a month ago. She started laying again a couple days ago and has stopped mothering. Is this normal?! Theyre 7 weeks old now. This is the only explanation I have :(

post #2 of 6


I do not have any experience of this, but i would remove the chicks from the mother immediately. Yep, it is normal for my mothers, at least to begin laying around 7 weeks after having hatched chicks. From that time they are certainly less interested in the welfare of their chicks, but killing them is another story. 

 

In the absence of more experienced BYC members contributing, it may be an idea to isolate the mother actually and if the prognosis is not good, then start looking up recipes for chicken stew :) 

 

I hope that you get some additional feedback.

 

Good luck

CT

Nairobi, Kenya
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Nairobi, Kenya
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post #3 of 6

Had the mother hen already integrated the chicks into the flock?  If so, do they have lots of room and "safe havens" where they can avoid other flock members?  

 

If they were only recently integrated into the flock, another hen(s) may have attacked the chicks now that the mother hen is no longer interested in mothering and protecting them.  

 

If they're 7 weeks old, it's highly unlikely that the mother hen would have turned on them, especially after taking care of them so long.  She may chase them off from the feeders, etc., but that's different from attacking them.  That being said, it's not a good sign that she killed another hen's chick.  (In my flock, that's a precursor to chicken soup.)    


Edited by song of joy - 10/2/15 at 11:52am
The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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The joy of the Lord is my strength!
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post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamafug8 View Post
 

So my kiddos just brought us a "sleeping" chickie :(I caught the mom pecking her chicks earlier (And this particular one) when they were all trying to eat... It didn't look friendly, and I don't think my kids did this (there was some blood and it does look like we found a couple rips under its wing and on its eyelid). Could our mama suddenly be trying to off her chicks?! She did kill another chick that wasn't hers over a month ago. She started laying again a couple days ago and has stopped mothering. Is this normal?! Theyre 7 weeks old now. This is the only explanation I have :(

Your hen is weaning her chicks as is evidenced by the fact that she has resumed laying.  

 

It is every mother hens' job to protect her chicks.  Because hens are incapable of reasoning, all other chicks pose a danger to that hen's own chicks, so killing other hens' chicks is within the job description of a mother hen.  Don't hold it against her.

Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
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Keep your chickens safe from predators, buy and wear fur. 
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post #5 of 6
Broody hens are intense mothers, either on the nest with the eggs or while raising their chicks. But when the time comes for the hen to wean the chicks, the chicks are left on their own. The hen is no longer a mother, she is just another chicken in the flock. I’ve had broody hens wean their chicks at three weeks of age. I’ve had broody hens stay with their chicks for over two months. I’ve had broodies totally cut the chicks off at one time. I’ve had broody hens leave the chicks on their own at night but mother them during the day. I’ve had hens take care of the chicks on the roost at night but leave them alone during the day. They are not consistent in this, about anything can happen.

The chicks sometimes don’t want to be weaned. Sometimes the hen just stops talking to them and just leaves them on their own. Sometimes she will peck them to get them to quit bothering her.

If the chicks have been raised with the flock they normally do fine on their own, even the ones that are only three weeks old. But if space is tight the chance of problems go up. The more room they have the better. They need room to get away if there is a conflict. They normally avoid conflict by forming a separate sub-flock that stays away from those big bullies, the other bigger chicks in the flock. They need room to avoid.

If you isolated the hen and chicks, especially in a small area, and she has weaned them they need room to get away from her. She is no longer their mother, she is now a big bully in the flock. You have a couple of integrations to do, the broody back to the flock and the chicks to the flock.

I don’t know enough about your specific set-up, but it sounds as if space may be limited. When I pack them in tight is when I have these type of problems. But I have lots of room and have never lost a chick to another adult flock member.

Good luck!

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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post #6 of 6

I would query how much space they have before I start questioning the integrity of the broody. If there is insufficient room for chicks to get out of their mother or another broody hen's space, then I could imagine it could get nasty. My hens free range and I have at least one broody who is a brilliant mother but the day she starts laying again, she is pretty ruthless in telling her chicks to go away. If there isn't enough room, the broody will get frustrated and that's when things could get out of hand.

 

How big is your coup and run and how many chickens and chicks in it?

Making sure there are enough feeders and drinkers to go around, is important. I place a bottomless cage up on bricks with a small feeding station and water dish inside, so that the chicks can get underneath to their own food and water but the older hens can't. They learn to use this right from being a few days old, so that they are already used to fending for themselves to a large extent before the broody casts them off.

 

Good luck getting to the bottom of it but I think you may need to make a separate run and coup for the chicks if the aggression continues.

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