Help! Found dead chick near broody hen

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Sammimom, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. Sammimom

    Sammimom Songster

    228
    16
    124
    Mar 29, 2009
    Sammamish,WA
    We gave our broody BO three suspected fertilized eggs from a friend, they were "scheduled" to hatch Friday. Today (Wednesday) I went out at noon to see her and found the broken shell near my hen and the dead chick about a foot away from the nest box. Our BO is still sitting on the other two eggs and defending them, which do not have any holes or cracks yet. Nothing externally seems wrong with the baby, it is a nice size with no obvious injuries or malformations. Any thoughts on what may have happened? Would my hen as a first time mommy have kicked out the little chick rather then continue to sit on and protect it while waiting for the other eggs? Or is it more likely that something was wrong internally? I wish I'd known the poor little thing had hatched. It never even dried out to fluff.

    My kids are going to be heartbroken when they get home from school. [​IMG]
     
  2. macmama

    macmama Songster

    239
    0
    109
    Apr 9, 2010
    Gilbert AZ
    [​IMG] Sorry... I don't know if there's any way to tell until you see her hatch the others. I have heard of 1st time broodies killing chicks as they hatch, especially if they aren't penned away from other hens. I would watch carefully if I were you to try to catch the other 2 hatching so I could rescue them if she does try to kill them... but I know that's not always possible.
     
  3. columbiacritter

    columbiacritter Songster

    1,602
    17
    194
    Jun 7, 2008
    Scappoose Oregon
    Two of our 3 new broodies killed chicks as they hatched. The third hatched the 3 fine, but when later ones started hatching several days after the first she killed them. Chickens, go figure.
     
  4. Sammimom

    Sammimom Songster

    228
    16
    124
    Mar 29, 2009
    Sammamish,WA
    After removing a pine shaving off the chick, I found a clean and slightly bloody cut, obviously not a scrape, about 1/4 inch long by the ear (which is pretty big on it's little head). The two small pieces of shell were all that was in there, the rest of the shell is gone. This leads me to suspect that

    1) The chick was born alive at least for a little while, since dead things don't bleed (and heck, it had to get out somehow). However, I really don't think those little eyes ever opened.

    2)The cut was very clean, therefore made by something sharp (not a scrape). Eggshell? Beak?

    3)Our hen ate the rest of the shell?

    I went out and offered her more food with lots of scratch and oystershell, she was happy about this and ate well (I put it next to her nest). I lifted her and carefully checked the remaining two eggs again, still no signs of hatching. She tolerated this very well. I hung a couple towels around the area where she is to close it off a little more and block some more light, so it feels more private??? I don't know if she cares but I'll give it a shot.

    Any other thoughts? She's a GREAT little pet hen, but it's just heartbreaking to think she might finish off all three chicks herself after sitting so long.
     
  5. macmama

    macmama Songster

    239
    0
    109
    Apr 9, 2010
    Gilbert AZ
    It's possible it was born too early and not formed well enough (were the eyelids sealed shut?) But it does sound like the hen pecked it. Unfortunately it's just a wait-and-see situation unless you're willing to put the eggs in an incubator. [​IMG]
     
  6. mandy7079

    mandy7079 Hatching

    3
    0
    7
    Jun 9, 2010
    It sounds like you are taking great effort to keep the remaiming babies safe...that's nice. My advice to you is get a little brooder box ready. This way if you catch them hatching you can get them to safety right away. I have never let my hens hatch their own, but about 6 weeks ago we hatched babies in an incubator and then put them in the brooder. they were my 3rd graders science fair projects. it was so much fun and she got 100% for a grade. She was the hit of the school when I brought them in for the day.

    Here's some tips for a brooder box. if you have an old aquarium or even a box, add some paper towels on the bottom for the first 3-4 days. new chicks will peck at sawdust and it could make them sick. make sure you use a heat lamp and keep it around 95* Keep fresh food and water. I am not sure how much you know about raising chicks so I won't go into too much detail. if you have any questions I am happy to help you out. our 5 babies are doing great. They have little mohawks on their heads because our roosters are golden polishes.

    Good Luck:)
     
  7. SallyF

    SallyF Songster

    Jul 5, 2009
    Middle Tennessee
    I recently had a broody sitting on three eggs; this is her second time brooding and she's a great mama. Three or four days before I expected the eggs to hatch, I looked in the nest box to find an egg about a foot away from her. Most of the shell was pecked off, the membrane was intact with one hole in it, and the chick was still alive. I thought that for some reason she had kicked it out of the nest and pecked the shell away, so I culled the chick rather than trying to "unwrap" it, thinking that the hen had rejected it for some reason. When I returned to the nest after culling the chick, there were two other chicks, hatched and fully dry, sitting next to mama. Apparently they had all hatched earlier than I expected, one had shrink-wrapped and she pushed it out of the nest. Who knows what hens are thinking!
     
  8. Sammimom

    Sammimom Songster

    228
    16
    124
    Mar 29, 2009
    Sammamish,WA
    Thanks everyone, you are making me feel better. I keep checking her to make sure no one else is hatching. [​IMG] If I find that one hatches and she neglects it, I will certainly put them in a brooder in the house. I don't have a means of rigging up an incubator in the next two days, so I'll have to leave them with her and chance it. Honestly, I never even candled these eggs, they may not be viable at all. Should I check them, or leave them put? I'm inclined to just leave them.

    The other hens are leaving her completely alone so that has to help. Since we only have three, they are all mellow, and they free range over an acre, they have always gotten along well and I don't think the other hens are contributing to the situation at all.

    My daughter just finished her fourth grade class presentation on "How a chick develops inside an egg" yesterday, her friends will be sad to hear one of the chicks died. Our hens have been popular visitors previously to this class, so there was much interest in the eggs. Despite me telling the kids how none of the eggs might hatch, or the chicks might not live, this little loss is hitting me much harder then expected. If it had been deformed I would have felt better about it's passing, but I just don't see anything wrong with it.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Sequin

    Sequin Songster

    May 20, 2008
    Just guessing, but the left over shell is probably still under her. My broody was obsessed about those eggs - could've cared less about the chick, but she kept putting the shells back under herself. My guess? The chick hatched, mama was 'protecting' the egg(now empty shell), pecked the chick once to say 'get away from my eggs' and that did the poor chick in. [​IMG] I'm sorry!!! Hope the others hatch for you!!!
     
  10. macmama

    macmama Songster

    239
    0
    109
    Apr 9, 2010
    Gilbert AZ
    She may have eaten the shell too-- when one of my first broody's eggs got smashed early in development (maybe day 8?) I only found out because when I lifted her to make her take her potty break all of the other 5 eggs were glued to her feathers with egg yolk! There were absolutely no shells whatsoever so she must have eaten them. I had to tear the eggs away from her belly, and I even washed the worst ones off in warm water (which I found out later was a no-no) I was SHOCKED that all 5 eggs ended up hatching-- I had prepared my girls for no hatching too.

    Hope everything goes well-- let us know if/when they hatch!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by