1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Dead hatched chicks from a broody silkie

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by leighdool, Mar 19, 2017.

  1. leighdool

    leighdool Out Of The Brooder

    10
    1
    24
    Apr 2, 2015
    We tried letting our Silkie hatch out some chicks and it has gone horribly wrong. We want to attempt this again in the future but before we do I want to know if the issue was human or chicken.

    The chicken who went broody is a 10 month old Silkie, this was her first time going broody and our first attempt at a broody hatch. We were not exactly sure when she went broody but had a good idea within a few days. We stuck a couple of extra eggs under her that were not part of her original clutch. She was left on her original nest, tucked in under the nesting boxes and was on the eggs except for brief food and water breaks. Day 21 came and went, nothing so we decided to candle the eggs all looked to have chicks near the end of incubation, we let her keep sitting. Day 25 one chick hatched, no shell to be found, and was out of the nest and dead, some of the eggs are now missing from the nest box, I am pretty sure it was not a predator because this was during the cold snap and the snow Virginia just had. All of the chickens (14) refused to leave the coop(10x12 shed) for two days. We float test the eggs they are all potentially viable. Today, day 28, another chick had hatched and was out of the nest and dead, again no obvious sign of trauma this time the shell was outside the nest and unzipped, it looked like a good hatch. There are still 2 eggs under the hen. What went wrong? Thank you for the help.

    I'm considering putting some already hatched chicks under her but am afraid she might be a bad mom and leave them to die as well.
     
  2. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,059
    109
    231
    Apr 29, 2011
    Northwest Indiana
    It's hard to tell, but it sounds like all of her eggs are hatching at different times. I wonder if she has chicks hatching and then they're ready to go find food and she's not leaving the unhatched eggs? This can put the hen in a difficult situation because she knows she still has chicks to hatch. Next time make sure all the eggs go under her at the same time so they all hatch at the same time.

    Could any of the other hens be getting in this nest and messing with things, too? Could there be rats or anything like that in your coop that might be messing with the nest?
     
  3. dlp40

    dlp40 Chillin' With My Peeps

    119
    18
    59
    Dec 1, 2015
    Florence sc
    Sikies, in my experience, make great hatchers but some make very poor momma's. I had 2 broody sikies at the same time last year and both hatched 90% of the eggs under them. On hatch day 1 of the sikies acted exactly like a momma should, clucking, snuggling, and generally being a good momma. The other (#1 hen in the flock) was silent and got really low and heavy on the eggs. The next day momma hen 1 was doing good momma hen stuff with the newly hatched babies but boss momma was pecking any and every chick that poked it's little head out of the fluff. If a chick moved to much under her, it too got a thunderous peck to the head.

    Fearing the boss momma, sent all of her chicks screaming out in to the coop. The good broody decided to take them all in and raised 14 baby sikies for us. Boss broody when from incubator to holy terror at this point ( about 3 hrs after her last chick left). She would stand over momma hen and hear the peeps and peck her until she left the nest or chicks. Then she played "whack-a-mole" with the chicks. About 2 mins of this and she was out back with the flock, most unwillingly I might add.

    That long story leads me to this end, some chickens make great incubators, others great mommas, and some do both fantastically. A lady on YouTube, has a silkie that will not get off the nest even after 2-4 days beyond hatch. The chicks leave for food and water, it's cold, they can't find their way back because broody doesn't talk to them, they died. Now she uses the hen as an incubator but broods the chicks inside.

    I would say give her another shot but watch her closely and decide what kind of broody you have from there.
    Hope that somewhere in my ramblings I have helped you out a little.
    Best of luck,
    David
     
  4. leighdool

    leighdool Out Of The Brooder

    10
    1
    24
    Apr 2, 2015
    At first we thought it was the other hens sine they were all cooped up with the snow. We fenced the broody off and thought we were good then the same thing happened. I've never seen a rat around the coop, doesn't mean they are not there, but this doesn't have a predator feel to it. My gut is telling me it's her or us, but m leaning more towards human error.
     
  5. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,059
    109
    231
    Apr 29, 2011
    Northwest Indiana
    You're probably right then! Maybe watch closely and when she has another or two hatch within a day of each other, maybe take the remaining eggs away. See if she starts mothering those when she doesn't have any other eggs to sit on.
     
  6. leighdool

    leighdool Out Of The Brooder

    10
    1
    24
    Apr 2, 2015
    Thanks, this does help. I wish we would have marked the eggs or separated her out. I feel like we screwed this up by having eggs hatching at different times. I feel like she's in incubator mode because she still has developing eggs under her so when the earlier ones hatch she's not switching to mom mode and kicking out the hatching eggs. Maybe it's a hormone thing? We will let her have another go at it with a better set up and more education on our part. I thought hatching with a broody was going to be easy, nature taking its course and all. We are considering getting some day old chicks and trying to get her to adopt them but I'm on the fence on that not knowing her mom skills.
     
  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    Part of it definitely was the different hatching days. Making sure no new girls are laying in her box or removing the new eggs that do get laid will help avoid the staggered hatch.

    I have 3 broody silkies. The first one made her way back to the wrong nest so many times I new she couldn't quite hatch some yet. I went ahead and broke the first two broodies, they were only 7 months old.

    But I would either take away all the eggs and let her sit on air while you collect what you wish to hatch. Or give her a couple of fakes. Then place all eggs at the same time.

    I had eggs in the incubator due to hatch when the third girl (8 months) went broody. She brooded fake eggs for a couple days and I popped chicks under her during the night. I blocked them off from the flock and put food and water nearby. She adamantly pecked me when I got close. She was not high on the pecking order and I was afraid the others would cause issues. Well, a few tried but she went all psycho on them! [​IMG] So it was after a few days I opened her pen and she took them out and went to the nesting site of her choice that I had moved her out of.

    Chicks are all 5 weeks old and doing great. Broody's are not duty free, but in the long run does take a little less effort than brooding indoors. Especially the flock integration part because they already know their place. [​IMG]

    If you do decide to get chicks, you MUST make sure they are as young as possible or she may not adopt them. And during the night is best and remove all eggs at the same time. It is OK to let her try. Just be prepared to raise them yourself if you have to.

    But the thing is... your mama broody has already been broody for a long time... and probably thin at this point. I wouldn't let her sit too much longer. Their muscles deteriorate and become weak from not moving very often. And they are eating and drinking very seldom. So going to long could be a bad thing. My 2 broody's I waited to break were half the size of their sister. So see if you can set her up with some chicks or employ a broody breaker and wait until next time to try again.

    Good luck! [​IMG]

    @dlp40 great story, thanks for sharing!
     
  8. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

    4,335
    1,306
    311
    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    I agree she has been sitting a long time.

    I have a broody gal that if I take chicks to her she tries to kill them. BUT if I take her to them she adopts and does a great job.

    I don't wait til dark. I do this in the early morning. That way I can watch for issues and intervene if needed.
     
  9. MasAhora

    MasAhora Chillin' With My Peeps

    184
    73
    96
    Nov 20, 2016
    Paraguay
    Don't beat yourself up too much. I and many other newbies have gone through this learning curve, I am so dumb I actually marked eggs for setting under a broody and added them to her own clutch days after she set on them (I wanted to be sure she was going to sit on the clutch and I had marked those eggs too)....then I wondered why I got a staggered hatch and lost chicks as a result. Now I see the obvious error, but at that point in time I thought I was planning for a smooth hatch - in the human world I am very capable but my chooks bring me down a notch or two.

    Don't underestimate how much you are learning! I wish you luck and the determination to persist, I think it is so important we re-discover our skills to breed and raise our own food.
    Have a look at the egg on the right - that is from a 9 month old pullet hatched and raised here, the vitamin content must be wonderful for me and my family.
    It has certainly impressed family members enough to get them excited about my flock expansion and broody pen plans[​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. 21hens-incharge

    21hens-incharge Overrun With Chickens

    4,335
    1,306
    311
    Mar 9, 2014
    Northern Colorado
    NICE yolk color!! Good job on the feeding you are doing!!

    Last winter we had no one laying. I got some store eggs. Even the dog would not eat them.

    There's no going back now. :D
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by