Help! My mama hen ate a hatching chick...

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by kduich, May 3, 2011.

  1. kduich

    kduich New Egg

    May 3, 2011
    Hi everyone,

    Please help! We put a clutch of 7 fertilized eggs under our broody Cochin and they began hatching today. I sat with my two little girls in the converted playhouse that we have set up to separate her from the flock and we listened to the tapping sounds from underneath her. Unwisely, oh, I am just so upset about this, we picked her up to check if they were coming out and when we put her down again, her foot broke one of the shells. We could see a little bit of a chick foot peeking out from underneath her and then after a minute or two... she ate the chick, including the shell!!! We did not see the chick move, maybe the foot coming down and the chick not being able to hatch itself out properly killed it? Maybe she knew it was dead and ate it to get it out of the way? We realized we had interfered too much, left her in the playhouse and now I'm at work and my girls are at school.

    My concern is that maybe she doesn't know how to be a mama? This is her second time going broody, and she is so tight on that nest that she won't even eat or drink unless, as we have been doing, we take her out to the garden for 15-20 minutes every morning so she can get some nourishment and poop. The first 3 days on the clutch we didn't do this, she ended up with runny poop all over her backside in the nest! I took her out, bathed her, and she has been fine since then with our daily few minutes in the garden. But because she doesn't seem to know enough to get off the nest to even eat or drink, I question her suitability as a mama.

    If I have unhatched eggs and/or evidence of more cannabilism when I get home, should I put the eggs under our brooding light? I have the big red light from when we first got our chickens as day olds, but no incubator.

    Also, if this hasn't happened and we come home to chicks, should I take her out of the nesting box and put the hay on the floor, so the chicks don't fall out of the box? It is about 6 inches high and sitting on the hay covered floor...

    All help is very much appreciated!!!!

    2 Ameraucanas, 2 Cochins, new to all this
  2. mmaddie's mom

    mmaddie's mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Don't beat yourself up... things happen.

    If you don't have an incubator, then the best thing to do is NOTHING... leave mama and the eggs alone. I wouldn't move her either at this point... let the eggs hatch and the babies will stay under mom for several days without moving around much... they need no food or water for several days. I have found that just having that hatched, wiggling baby under mom for a day does something to bond her to it... she feels it, hears it, smells it and, then, finally sees it... by then it is a done deal,,, HER baby.

    Six inches isn't very high especially with straw on the floor... but if you decide to move them at some point, I would wait until a little bonding has happened.

    Good luck with your mama! A good broody is a wonderful thing.
  3. ralleia

    ralleia Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 22, 2011
    Omaha, NE
    Her eating one of the hatching chicks is rather bizarre--I'm not sure what to think about that.

    I agree about leaving her be though--one way or another, you DO want to be able to able to accurately assess her abilities as a brooder and as a momma. Unless there is something particularly critical about this brood.

    A six-inch drop should not be a problem. In our first experience hatching eggs, we had one fall from 2 1/2 feet and it was fine. Less than ideal of a set-up, but don't worry over six inches--after they get their legs organized they could probably hop down that.
  4. Hencredibles

    Hencredibles Out Of The Brooder

    May 3, 2011
    Wow! Never seen a hen hurt a chick like that.

    You'll surly need to leave her be at this point and
    I'm sure she'll figure it out.

    We have some silkies that we piddle with and have let three
    of the hens go broody. chicks should be hatching in less than a
    week....we imaging that everything will go well since they are silkies.

    They were just made to be great mothers.

    Hope it all works out well.

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