Attacking Chicks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Stacykins, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. Stacykins

    Stacykins Overrun With Chickens

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    Today I got to experience one of the less awesome parts of owning chickens. Death of a chick only a few days old. But not from disease or unthriftyness. It was by the hand of the hen that hatched the chick.

    It was in the nest box, and the hen was still acting broody, but the dead chick was shoved off to the side. She'd snagged some newly laid eggs to sit on. At first I thought the chick could have died of exposure, but it had bloody peck marks (very bloody, so likely made while the chick was still living). She rejected it to brood more eggs. Now I don't trust her as a Mom. I thought she was doing well with the chick. Making the same 'momma hen noises' that the other broodies with chicks do, and tucking the chick into her feathers.

    She also tried to slaughter a week and a half old chick (olive egger chick) that belongs to ANOTHER Mom hen. The attack came when she left the box to drink, saw the hen and chick pair, and rushed over to begin kicking and pecking the chick. Thank goodness the mother hen defended her chick, but I thought it was done for because it went limp on the ground after a particularly hard kick. But it must have just been stunned, since as I put the attacker in a dog crate and saw to the chick. It was still breathing and regained its footing after a few minutes and the pair ran off together.

    Anyway, to the actual question: IS MY HEN BROKEN? Or is she just a poor mother? What could cause the sudden aggression? Agitation or stress? She has been broody for over three weeks, so she should have known it was 'time' for chicks to hatch.
     
  2. dainerra

    dainerra Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Attacking another hens chicks is normal. Removing dood competition for her babies.
    For her own chick, it's possible that the chick wasn't healthy. All animals will reject a baby that doesn't. Have a good chance of surviving. It is also possible that she just wasnt a good mother or that 1 hatch wasnt enough to break her broodiness.
     
  3. Stacykins

    Stacykins Overrun With Chickens

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    Huh, didn't know that going after another hen's chicks is normal. Do you think it is safe to try again with her? I do like broody hens, they do a good job raising chicks and teach them about free ranging from the start. It seems like broody raised chicks are more bold and resilient than ones I raise in the brooder. The trade off is with human interaction, though.
     
  4. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'll assume this was her first time. This is one I'd isolate and control the number of eggs she has. Also start the eggs on the same day. But I think there will be a risk she will do it again.
     
  5. Stacykins

    Stacykins Overrun With Chickens

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    Eggs had been started on the same day, with only one chick successfully hatching. She'll definitely be monitored closely if I let her do it again.
     
  6. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was going to ask if she started with more eggs that didn't make it. Relevance is that she may have stayed broody to get the rest to hatch, rather than care for the loner.
     

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