Help! Hen eating baby chicks as they hatch

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by alabamaterri, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. alabamaterri

    alabamaterri Chirping

    Jul 8, 2011
    We recently had a fox that took out 14 of our chickens. We have 2 Jersey Giants that were nesting that he didn't get. They have has 2 sets of hatchlings in the past so they are not first time moms. They have been very good mothers and very protective.
    The eggs started hatching from "Dolly" yesterday and I saw the chick layed aside, cold and put it under her. I noticed another pecking out of it's shell. I checked shortly after, and Dolly had blood on her face and was eating the baby chick alive. She had eaten out it's stomach and it was still chirping. We killed it. I took the other one that was hatching and put it under Carrie. When it hatched out, I caught her eating it. She had eaten the scalp off of it and was about to start on the stomach. I have it in "intensive care" in my garage and it appears that it is going to be fine.
    This morning, I saw a half eaten one in Carrie's nest with blood all over her face. I have removed all eggs and put them in an incubator.
    Has anyone else had this problem before? Why are they doing this? Is it possible that they are killing the chicks before the fox can? I didn't think they were that smart. lol

    Any help would be appreciated. They have always been wonderful surrogate mothers and I hate to get rid of them but cannot have this happening.

  2. TamiHunter

    TamiHunter Songster

    Oct 19, 2009
    Saint Helens, Oregon
    I hope someone can answer this because I have had some of my Silkies do the same thing. I will go out and find the chick/chicks dead and you can tell they were pecked/eaten to death.
  3. chickenfarmer96

    chickenfarmer96 In the Brooder

    Aug 6, 2013
    You must get rid of the hens, sorry to say, but sometimes as hens get older in their setting years, they will become savages. And that seems to be what is happening to your hens, they will keep eating the chicks at that rate. But you did good by putting them in an incubator, Make sure that you get rid of those hens, or kill them off as soon as you can, before they kill anymore chicks, Sorry but there is nothing you can do about it. Happened to a friend of mine, and he had to put down his hens. Because they were all getting the same habits as the other ones that had started killing their own chicks. Still am not quite sure why it happens with some hens, but it does happen just all of a sudden at most times. [​IMG]
  4. gimmie birdies

    gimmie birdies Crowing

    Feb 12, 2013
    Eastern WA
    I think the same things happen with egg eating- if I ever see a hen eating an egg- I do know of one in particular, I toss her out of the hut than get rid of the egg right away- I put straw over where the egg juices were, then I make sure I really collect the eggs. I also put a golf ball in the nests- so if they try and peck again they hit a hard ball, then they forget about eating eggs again- luckly this only happens if I am on vaca- and don't collect eggs enough.
  5. GardenDave

    GardenDave In the Brooder

    Aug 5, 2013
    Whilst researching about quail chicks and giving them to hens to care for I learned that the hen would attack, eat, or literally pick up and throw a chick to the side if she doesn't recognise it as a chick. This sounds unlikely in your circumstances with both of them having been good mothers in the past, but it is a possibility.

    Another possibility is the temptation of taste. Hens love the taste of egg liquids. Could it be that they are pecking for the taste of the chicks before they dry out?

    Could it be a nutrition issue? Have you changed their diet or stopped, started offering certain treats or left over veg since their last hatchings?

    Hope some of these suggestions help.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by