Chicks keep dying under mom’s care

sarajanem

In the Brooder
Jun 30, 2021
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1.5 weeks ago I gave two broody hens four babies each. One hen has all of her babies and the other one has lost three. I keep finding them dead under her in the morning, and one I found dead near her at the end of the day. I don’t know if she’s killing them by accident or on purpose. My question is, should I try to give the last remaining chick to the successful mom? And would that even work at this point? If not, will the lone chick be okay by herself?
 

sarajanem

In the Brooder
Jun 30, 2021
24
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This sounds as if she did not switch from protecting her clutch to caring for the chicks.

You can try to slip the remaining chick under the other broody, hopefully she will accept it as well.
She leaves the nest a lot though! All day she’s out foraging with them. It’s very confusing and sad :(
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
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Feb 2, 2009
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I don't know what is going on. Are you seeing any marks on those dead chicks? If she were killing them on purpose I'd expect to find injuries. To show how wild it can get, I once had a 2-week-old chick being raised by a broody hen kill a hatchmate and then start trying to kill another. There was a raw spot on the head of the dead chick where that chick had pecked a wound.

For one hen to lose 3 out of 4 chicks you have to assume something is wrong. I don't have a clue what. It's unusual for one of my broody hens to lose even one, 3 out of 4 is horrible luck. You'd think as old as those chicks are a death would really be rare.

Without knowing too many details I'd probably try to give that surviving chick to the other broody. See if she will accept it and if it will accept her. Lock the other broody well away from the hen and chicks so she can't call her chick. If that doesn't work you can try raising that chick by itself or take a chick or two from that other broody hen to raise with it. Chicks generally do better with a buddy. If you keep it by itself, maybe a mirror in the brooder can help keep it company, maybe with a stuffed toy for it to cuddle with.

I wish you luck. Let us know what you try and how it goes.
 

JacinLarkwell

Crossing the Road
Mar 19, 2020
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Are they in their own seperate areas? Do they free range? Is this their first time?

I have a big flock of broodies. Almost always they lose chicks. But they free range 24/7/365 and things happen. And some are just crappy mamas (looking at you, hen that started roosting 20+ feet high a week after your chick hatched).

Usually if they're being killed by a bird, they'll have wounds. I have had many a baby get tangled in feathers overnight and die.

Have you checked mama for bugs?
 

sarajanem

In the Brooder
Jun 30, 2021
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41
This is not either of their first times. The murder mama is a buff orp, and she goes broody a lot. She has probably raised 6 hatches and is normally a great mama. No marks on the babies, but they’re only dying with mama and not out in the yard. All of the chicks came from the same hatchery.

They free range all day and I help them into coops at night. I did just realize I’ve been putting the murder mama in a coop a hen recently died in (a little over a month ago). She originally chose to nest in the same coop as the other broody, but I thought it would be best to separate them at night. I think I’ll try putting her and baby in the same coop as the successful broody tonight? And very thoroughly cleaning the murder coop out. I don’t know exactly what the other hen died from, but she was breathing laboriously before she died so maybe it was a respiratory infection. I assumed it was from an injury she sustained because the weird breathing started after an attack. I don’t want to risk it, but I also really don’t want to keep the murder mama separated from the flock for weeks if I give the successful broody her last chick :(
 

Wyorp Rock

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Gather Mama up and inspect her thoroughly for mites and lice. Take a dampened paper towel and wipe some of the surfaces inside that coop where Mama is sitting with baby and see if any mites/bugs are on the paper towel.

Mites especially will kill chicks, Mama can likely handle a load for a while.
 

sarajanem

In the Brooder
Jun 30, 2021
24
33
41
If she's a big hen she could be suffocating them accidently. Or maybe the chicks weren't strong or healthy to begin with.
It doesn't sound like an attack or 'murder' as you put it. Could be an out side issue. You said they were laid out, like how?
Laid out when dead or how am I letting them out? I let them out to free range every day. I’ve been finding them just dead in the coop (when I let them out first thing in the morning) with no visible injuries.

I had no idea mites could kill chicks though! This mama does not have them (that I know of) but a couple of other hens have been battling with them.
 

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