Chicks being pecked to death!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by mlowarren, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. mlowarren

    mlowarren Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2009
    Birmingham, AL
    My 3 broody bantam hens have been passing the same 4 eggs back and forth for the past 3 weeks, and surprisingly, they are all developing just fine. The problem is, 2 of the eggs have hatched, and I found both babies pecked to death! [​IMG] I wasn't seriously trying to hatch the eggs at first - There were a couple of days in a row that I wasn't able to gather eggs, so I just let the hens keep them to see if they would hatch. But now that they are hatching and being killed I just feel horrible! [​IMG] It breaks my heart for the little babies to make it all the way through incubation and hatching just to be killed right as they come into the world!

    There are two left that are about to hatch within the next day or so, and I was wondering if anyone could give me any advice? Why are the hens killing the babies they worked so hard to hatch??

    Thanks for any help!!

  2. Miyashi

    Miyashi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 20, 2011
    Gaylord, MI
    My guess would be....if they have been passing the eggs around, they all think they are Mom and hens are very grumpy about that...
    They'll kill another hens babies if they become jealous of her.
    That's my best guess...
    I'm very sorry for your loss!
    That's such a sad thing. Poor things didn't stand a chance. =\\
    Best of luck to you!
  3. MandyH

    MandyH You'll shoot your eye out!

    Are there other chickens in with the mamas and babies? I had a flock kill all the babies that 3 broodies hatched, the mothers weren't too good at protecting them.
  4. karlamaria

    karlamaria Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2011
    Western montana
    Quote:How about taking the eggs out and putting them in your bra to keep them warm and let them hatch and they put them somewhere safe until they grow? Believe me, my bra' would hold -3 eggs lol
  5. MandyH

    MandyH You'll shoot your eye out!

    Quote:How about taking the eggs out and putting them in your bra to keep them warm and let them hatch and they put them somewhere safe until they grow? Believe me, my bra' would hold -3 eggs lol

    You've never seen my boobs. There's not a spare inch in my bra for NOTHING.
  6. mccabe

    mccabe Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 26, 2011
    Aloha. This is a tough one. The hens may be fighting over the babies and the little ones are suffering for it. They may have gotten stepped on and, once injured, the hens finished them off. I can only suggest experimentation here. Do you have a separate area away from the flock? After dark, when all is quiet, move whichever hen is on the eggs, along with the eggs and the nest if possible (or have a similar nest set up in a private area) and move the whole family.

    Some hens can be fierce about their chicks and you may just have too many fighting over too few.

    Make sure the new quarters have fresh water accessible to the new ones. They drown easily so use a chick waterer or put pebbles in the water dish so it is too shallow for a drowning. Have chick starter and grain for mom and see how things go. If she cares for them, you can let the family out after a few days. She'll take them back to the new nest at night. In 10 or 12 weeks you can move the family back to main quarters.

    In the future, if all go broody at once you might provide fertile eggs and a nest for each and see if that works better. Watch your flock closely for "chicken dynamics". There are dominant as well as passive girls; fighters, hoarders, the bossy, the timid. Be patient with yourself. These things take time and you are doing the best you can. Experience with your own personal flock comes in time. You are obviously a caring owner.

    I once interviewed a couple who owned the huge draft horses, Clydesdales, which they used in a tourist-based business. They said the best experience they obtained was by taking a couple of buckets out to the pastures and sitting down for an hour or two whenever they had time and just observing. Watching who controlled the herd, who held back after feeding. Personalities came through and this helped them decide which animal worked with another best, how to feed, which should be bred, which needed special attention and the kind of attention. After 20 years in the business, they still took the buckets out and sat down and watched. I learned from that. j mccabe
  7. mlowarren

    mlowarren Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2009
    Birmingham, AL
    I guess you are all right...It does make sense that the hens would just keep fighting over the chicks even after they hatch. I guess I just assumed they would be more gentle and not take their frustration out on the chicks...but I guess hens aren't quite that smart [​IMG]

    mccabe, I will take your advice and move the 2 remaining eggs tonight and just give them to 1 hen. I have nothing else to lose!

    Thanks, everyone. I am always so blessed by the kindness and eagerness to help of everyone on this forum. You guys are great! [​IMG]

  8. kelar

    kelar Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2010
    As other posters have pointed out, you need to give the eggs to one hen and keep any of the other chickens from accessing the nest. I don't know your set up, but I've even taped cardboard over a nest box temporarily to give the hen privacy. After the chicks hatch, you can move her and the chicks to a separate area until the chicks are old enough to go out with her. The hens probably did not mean to kill the chicks, but they were fighting over them and the chicks just got in the way.
  9. triplepurpose

    triplepurpose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 13, 2008
    Quote:I agree. It really pays to have a good setup. Makes for a lot less stress, awkward situations, and accidents. Often people seem to end up letting hens hatch as an afterthought, but I think it really pays to do it right. For the future, I highly recommend checking out this article--it explains a lot: Good luck!
  10. mlowarren

    mlowarren Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 18, 2009
    Birmingham, AL
    Thanks everyone! Last night I isolated the 2 remaining eggs and 1 hen. This morning 1 of the eggs was pipped! [​IMG] I will update you when I get home from work this afternoon.

    Yes, this hatching was just an afterthought - I just thought I would give the eggs a chance to hatch rather than throwing them away. I wasn't too concerened about the prospect of them not hatching, but I never thought they would hatch and then be killed!

    I have hatched chicks before, but I usually give the hens their own private area to do so. I guess that's why I didn't have any experience with this particular type of tragedy!

    Thanks again for all of your help and support!!! [​IMG]


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