Broody hens working together?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by a2ms4chickens, May 21, 2008.

  1. a2ms4chickens

    a2ms4chickens Songster

    Dec 16, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    I am a chicken novice, and I have two broody hens in the same pen, but in 2 different boxes. I need your opinions.

    First of all, 1 hen hatched her first egg last Friday, but still had 5 eggs under her. She keeps a close eye on this chick and is showing him how to eat and drink.

    Yesterday, 2 more chicks hatched. Unfortunately, the mama pecked these two on their heads. My son was able to get the chicks out of the pen, and we put them in a brooder after putting antibiotic ointment on their wounds. We were able to get them both to drink some water. By the time they went to bed, they were pooped! They both survived the night and are eating and drinking and getting around pretty good.
    We put the antibiotic ointment on 2-3x per day, and I have added a weak vitamin/electrolyte supplement to their water. Hopefully, these two will make it.


    Tonight, she abandoned her nest with 3 eggs left, and crawled into the other broody hen's nesting box. So now, I have 2 hens in this box, plus the 1st little chick.


    I told my son that she abandoned her last 3 eggs and to put them in the desert. As he was taking them out there, he told me that he heard chirping in one of the eggs. I didn't believe him, of course, but I listened to the egg and there was chirping and pecking. So, he put the egg under the hen, hoping that it might still have a chance to hatch.

    Does anyone have an opinion as to why she would leave her eggs and volunteer to sit on another broody's eggs? They should be begin hatching on Thursday.

    Also, why would she accept 1 chick, but then try to kill these other chicks?

    My son, who is 11, is concerned that this is going to happen again, and he says that because I read this forum that I have all the answers. [​IMG]

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.


  2. Cetawin

    Cetawin Chicken Beader

    Mar 20, 2008
    NW Kentucky
    I wish I had first reaction is to move miss broody with the chick into a separate area away from the other broody and her clutch...let her hatch her babies alone. But I am no expert.

    Normally if a mama is pecking at hatchlings, I would think there was a couple of possible reasons...1- something is wrong with the chicks, sick, ill or weak or 2- she is just not going to be a good mama.

    Hopefully one of the old hands at this will have some better answers and suggestions. Good luck with the babies in the brooder. [​IMG]
  3. a2ms4chickens

    a2ms4chickens Songster

    Dec 16, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks for your response. I'm thinking the mama is not a good one, or she just has her favorite. The first chick to hatch is the only one she likes.

    The chirping egg that was headed towards the desert last night, hatched today. The chick was ok until the hens got off the eggs to get some sunflower seeds. When one of the hens was getting back into the nesting box, she started pecking the new chick. Luckily, I was there and was able to get it away from her. I put the new chick in the brooder with the two that were hen-pecked.
    All 3 are doing fine tonight.

    We'll have to keep a close eye on them because the eggs they are both sitting on are due to hatch tomorrow.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. Love my Critters!

    Love my Critters! Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Carlsbad, NM
    I had the same experience, but mine started with 2 broody hens. Well they killed the first 2 babies that were born. One took to the 3 rd baby born, but after 4 days of playing mom, she decided to them stop. Somthing must of happened to the baby because the afternoon that I found it it was not acting right and died in my hands:( So anyway, keep an eye on your new little one, it may not have a good mommy.
  5. a2ms4chickens

    a2ms4chickens Songster

    Dec 16, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks for your warning 'Love my critters', now I will keep a close eye on the chick still in the pen with the hens.

    My son's last day of school is today, so I'm sure he'll keep a close eye on all of the chicks, tomorrow.

    It is kind of nerve racking trying to guess what these two mamas are going to do.
  6. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    I am having similar experiences with my turkeys and hens and I think some mothers are bad ones, or they decide "this is my family" and don't want the rest. It's better to put a broody hen and her nest separated from the rest of the hens because they seem to get this nest/chick confusion too.

    If she's alone and in a small controlled space she is not distracted or worried about other hens, or other hens' chicks, etc. I would put the chick with the mom alone somewhere, then put the rest of the unhatched eggs with the second mom, if hers are due to hatch right away too.
  7. a2ms4chickens

    a2ms4chickens Songster

    Dec 16, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks chickenannie, I will probably have to do that. Today, 2 of the eggs hatched today, that they are sitting on. The smaller chick has been accepted by both hens and is content. The larger chick was starting to get pecked by one of the hens, so I pulled it and it is now in the brooder with the other 3 chicks.

    We are keeping a close eye on the hens and the 2 chicks. Once all the eggs are hatched, I am planning on separating the hens with their chicks.

    This hatching chicks thing is rather stressful, isn't it? [​IMG]
  8. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    Stupid broodies.
    I was going to suggest that you remove the one chick and put it with the other three, but you've already done that.
    I can't tell you why a broody would do that, but I've had it happen myself. A silkie of mine (great pet, horrible mother) tried to kill her one and only baby that she hatched. We took him out, got two others to keep him company, and the three grew up together. Noodle is now grown and healthy and I haven't the faintest idea why Gwen tried to kill him.
    I agree that, if you do this again, you need to remove the broody and her eggs and let her hatch them in private. Mom seems a lot happier that way and she is able to raise her babies without having to worry about other hens killing them.
  9. SillyChick

    SillyChick Songster

    Dec 15, 2007
    Sorry about the broody problem! I hope you save all the chicks soon and find an answer to the broodies. Sorry, I'm not much of help(I'm a newbie as well!) but it's good to keep an eye on the eggs so you will be able to save the chicks quickly. I wish you good luck for the eggs!
    Last edited: May 22, 2008
  10. a2ms4chickens

    a2ms4chickens Songster

    Dec 16, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks for your replies. I will definitely do things differently next time.

    Both hens are sitting on about 10 eggs that were due to start hatching today, and 2 did hatch. The others should all hatch in the next few days.

    I also have another broody, but she is in a separate pen as she is a show MG. But, I'm not sure if I need to move her out because the rooster is in the same pen. I have a couple of weeks to work that one out.
    By then, these two hens should be joined back with the flock.

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