Did she kill her own chick? Incompetant mother hen!

Tam'ra of Rainbow Vortex

10 Years
Apr 30, 2009
Rogue Valley, S. Oregon
Yesterday, my broody silver penciled wyandotte hatched out a darling little grey-brown mutt chick. I was delighted since my dominant roo is black and I always want more colors... I was so excited to see how it would turn out. But today its decapitated body was found with its mother in the nesting box with the four other unhatched eggs she sat on and one new egg laid by another hen. She must have left the nest for that other egg to appear. So what do you think? What is she guilty of- criminal negligence or murder?
I will not be keeping this hen. If I had known she would not care for it I would have slipped it under my gold laced broody.
If your broody hen left the nest box to go potty or get a drink of water, and another hen came in to lay an egg, it was 99% likely the 2nd hen pecked the baby to death. The broody hen is NOT at fault here, if you needed food or water or a potty break reeeeeeeaaaaally bad, youre gonna take it, right? No different for your broody. Chickens in general are very canabalistic and will eat each other and each others new chicks. Thats why alot of folks will isolate a broody, to keep her babies safe from other hungry chickens.

I hope you dont get rid of the hen over this incident- a good broody who will stay till the chicks hatch can be hard to find! I always check my broodies everyday and all new chicks go right into the brooder- that way no other chickens can get them and I dont have to worry the mom might accidentaly step on one or kick one out. My Jersey Giant hens have a terrible habit of squishing their babies flat! Not because they are bad moms, just because they are soooo big and heavy, they accidentaly step on one or just lay on them the wrong way. I hate finding those unfortunate babies, and if the mom happens to have kicked a dead one out, it is ALWAYS mostly eaten by my other hens (I try to get the body before that happens though, but I cant always be there).

Maybe you can just keep an eye on this one broody, and take any chicks she hatches, and maybe get a few, cheap, day old chicks from the feed store to give her to raise? She sounds like she's trying hard and was sabotaged, not her fault, I say she deserves a pass on this one.
Was this her first try at brooding? Some animals (and people) need a little practice before they become 'expert moms.' Give her another chance, she's probably upset over this tragedy, too.
Can you isolate her from the other chickens? I don't think she did that to her baby. I have been lucky when my hens decide to brood I have of them that share the job if one of them leaves the nest the other stays behind etc. I have allowed them to raise their own babies before and have had to put up a big screen barrier so the mothers are not so stressed. I would give her another chance for sure....these accidents happen and I agree I am willing to bet she is just as upset over it as you are. Good Luck.
Well, ive been at this for two years, and seen many chicks die of different causes, but to me a decapitated chick, sounds like a possum got a hold of her.. i mean true a new egg was their but another could of kicked ms. Broody off the nest the mr. oppossum scared the 2nd one and possums are WELL KNOWN FOR that style of killing:th
I don't think it was a possum. We have 2 big dogs on patrol and the hen in question was in one of the higher nest boxes and there were unguarded eggs in the lower boxes that would be much easier to get to. Its weird, but I haven't seen any raccoons or opossums within miles of my house in the year I have lived here.
The biggest reason I suspect her is that she was acting a little funny the day the chick hatched. She was picking at it like they do with something new that they are unfamiliar with. I felt the alarm go off in my head, but let it go thinking she was just new at this and since she didn't seem to be trying to hurt it, I'd let it go. I wish I hadn't. The broody in the next box over is a baby stealer who LOVES chicks (even if they are not hers!) and would happily have adopted the little one.
Today marked 5 days past her estimated hatch date, and 3 days after the deceased hatched, so I pulled her off the nest and put her in a rabbit cage to break her broodiness. I cracked her 2 remaining eggs- one was undeveloped and the other must have died just a few days before it was ready to hatch. It looked like it was one of the (rare) purebreds possible from my mixed flock from the coloring. I am just so disappointed with her. I know she's also my egg eater, and my least friendly hen so I was already considering rehoming her before this incident. I made up my mind that if she failed as a broody she was out.
So now I just have to decide if I feel right with giving this problem hen to someone else. She's 2 1/2 now, and a hatchery bird with bad feather patterning so she is less than desirable on all fronts. I was considering donating her to the Oregon Poultry Swap raffle in October, but now I am not sure. Not sure I want to keep that long, and not sure I want to inflict her behavioral issues on any nice person who hopes to get a good chicken.
I'm sorry you feel that way towards her. If you dont want her I say give her to a good home. My oppion is that you shouldnt take it so hard being her first time mom. Lots of animals and chickens just dont get it right the first time.
I would not blame the broody at this point without a lot more reason.

A hen who wants to lay in a particular nest will bully the occupant - broody or not - until the hen who wants to lay gets her way. Even if it means squeezing into a crowded box.

The hen who laid her egg - in the broody's box, there is a good chance she killed the chick. She, the layer, is not broody, no reason to be even nice to the chick and newly hatched chicks just are no match for a determined beak.

It is natural for all broody hens to gently peck at their chicks - if the chick starts screaming/crying and the mother pecks harder or faster -- then there is a problem.

Now an egg eater........if I am 100% certain, and she is actively eating eggs from the nest boxes (not broken ones, but good whole ones that she broke with the intent to eat).......that is a different story, and only if she was my very bestest broody (and I really have some really great ones) would she possibly see the sunset of the next day (I like to process in the morning

I would not pass on or rehome an egg eater without the person knowing about it.
I feel bad that you feel this way about her.....If this was her first clutch I would give her a chance. What I would do is the next time she is brooding is put her and her eggs in your Rabbit cage all by herself. She will be less stressed and more apt to take good care of her babies once they hatch.
As far as being an egg eater.....I have seen some of my chickens eating their eggs.....every once in a while my hens will lay an egg outside of the nesting boxes and it will get cracked somehow when it does they eat it right up. My hen Penny sometimes would lay an egg from her perch and it would fall down to the floor and of course break open. They clean it up right off. I just thought that was normal if they happen to break an egg they eat it right up.
Anyway I realize this is your choice but if it were me I would allow that hen at least one more chance to become a Mommy in a less stressed atmosphere like your Rabbit cage. At least this way you will know once and for all.....
I wish I were close I would take her off your hands in a second.

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