Hen attacking chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by bluegiantsc, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. bluegiantsc

    bluegiantsc Chillin' With My Peeps

    201
    7
    81
    Jun 7, 2012
    York, SC
    My broody hatched out 12 very healthy chicks 3 weeks ago today. A few days ago I noticed the hen was attacking these two chicks, she grabs them in the neck or back or wing and shakes them and it looks like she's trying to kill them.
    They're the only two of their color so I don't know if its the color that is bothering her or what is going on, but when they see her they run for their lives. They aren't staying in the coop or run, they're staying on the outside and I can hear the hawks flying around. So I'm pretty worried about them.
    The really unfortunate part is, the chicks don't really know me. They're pretty scared of me. That is thanks to my over aggressive rooster and the infection in my hand that he gave to me by sticking a spur in my finger.
    So the chicks won't come to me, they run.

    Why is she attacking them? They seem pretty healthy to me, but maybe she knows something I don't know. From what I can tell, I think one is a pullet and one is a cockerel, but I could be wrong.
    How do I get them out of the coop? Should I get them out of the coop away from her?
    I'm all for the circle of life or whatever, but she's only attacking these two chicks and I don't think its fair. So if I separate them and they die then thats fine, but I won't have her kill them because she's a nutjob.
    Should I wait for night time to get them out and put them in a different cage?

    Sorry for the long post and all the questions, I'm just kind of at a loss.
     
  2. Moonkit

    Moonkit Chillin' With My Peeps

    493
    18
    121
    Apr 20, 2011
    Richardson, Texas
    Sounds like you're going to be stuck handraising these two if you don't have a less.. shall we say it, racist hen. I had four hens go broody and gave them a mixed group of hatching eggs I purchased locally.

    When the hatched, I had a grab-bag assortment of chicks.. grey, black, and chipmunk colored, all vigorous, healthy, and acitve. Two of my broody hens (both first time mothers), an australorp and a silkie (of all things :hmm), exibited a sudden and inexplicable prejudice against the two chipmunk colored chicks. The silkie's behavior was corrected with some firm discipline (similar to how I discipline my dogs), but the australorp ended up skinning one of the chicks on its back. Needless to say, I took away all her chicks and gave them to my less prejudice bantam cochin hens. The chick did survive with treatment and TLC.. I think he/she only survived because my bantam cochin (a 3rd time mother) fought off the australorp and crouched protectively over him and wouldn't let any of the other chicks or hens near him/her.

    The other hens adopted the chicks that the australorp had hatched without any issues, and the australorp was sent back to the coop with the layers. I'm not planning to ever give her eggs again, broody or not. However, I do have a gem of a broody hen in one of my bantam cochins.. she is a WONDERFUL mother and doesn't seem to care what color her chicks hatch. When she's broody, she sings to her eggs every night, will pick up the chick starter and feed each chick one by one to make sure they eat, and will defend her chicks against any interloper.. be it another hen, a dog, or a pool noodle.

    As to your chicks.. get them a heat lamp of some sort (I personally LOVE the eco-glows) if you don't have another broody hen willing to take the rejects. If you were closer, I'd be glad to lend you my cochin.. she just loves being a mommy! Set up a small pen or even a large dog crate for them to stay in and be protected from those hawks. They'll be fine with eachother for company.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  3. bluegiantsc

    bluegiantsc Chillin' With My Peeps

    201
    7
    81
    Jun 7, 2012
    York, SC
    I have a really large rabbit cage that they'll probably go in or I could probably dig out the dog crate. I will give them the heat lamp and I planned on covering a portion of the top of the cage so they can stay dry if it rains and they can be in the sun if its sunny.

    I don't understand how she can be racist. She has 7 white and then 3 black and these two blues. As it turns out, they're very pretty and they're going to be my keepers. I guess maybe she doesn't like the blue? The hen is so great with the other chicks. What a crazy bird.

    I guess hand raising them won't be an issue, since they eat on their own and stuff. So hopefully I can catch them and keep them healthy. I might go out there tonight and get them AND get the rooster and put him in his own cage.
     
  4. Moonkit

    Moonkit Chillin' With My Peeps

    493
    18
    121
    Apr 20, 2011
    Richardson, Texas
    If we could understand the nuances of the chicken mind.. such things would never happen. Like with my hens.. I have no idea why the australorp and silkie both decided they hated the chipmunk colored chicks, but were fine with the black and blue ones. Where as my two cochins (one columbian and one mottled black and white) loved them all. I was surprised that Kerowyn (the columbian one and the great mother) leapt to protect the hurt chick when it hadn't been one she'd hatched. It had been part of the clutch that the silkie and australorp hatched (as I only had two large dog crates.. the hens were put into pairs to brood.. the silkie was paired with Kerowyn and the australorp with the mottled cochin. These were pairs they formed themselves in the coop when they claimed two of the nest boxes.) Kerowyn practically beat the crap out of the australorp who was 2-3 times her size. It was kinda like she was telling her, "That's not how you treat your babies!"

    After she beat the australorp, she ran and crouched over the baby with her wings out and hissed at anything that approached(channeling her inner TRex), even the other chicks. When I reached and took the hurt one out to treat, she clucked and called for it until I brought it back in a small wire hamster cage and set him where she could see it. She moved her brood to that corner of the pen and tended to stay near where the hurt one was. I separated him like that because I didn't want the other chicks to keep pecking at his back, but i also didn't want him screeching cause he was lonely.
     
  5. Moonkit

    Moonkit Chillin' With My Peeps

    493
    18
    121
    Apr 20, 2011
    Richardson, Texas
    I've never seen Kerowyn reject a chick.. heck, she even mothered the chicks of the other hens! Of course.. she was also the one who sat in an empty nest box (no shavings/eggs/lining/etc) for 3 months, attempting to hatch the air.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  6. bluegiantsc

    bluegiantsc Chillin' With My Peeps

    201
    7
    81
    Jun 7, 2012
    York, SC
    Well, it sounds to me like I shouldn't be raising jersey giants, I should be raising columbian wyandottes. haha.

    The chicks are in the barn yard right now, they've found a nice little bank of clover to lay in. I just spread some chick starter out there for them. I need to get them a little water bowl, since they aren't really going back into the coop.
    BUT the other night, when I saw the hen attack them. They waited until the rest of the chicks were in for the night and then went into the house with the hen and she didn't do anything to them. I don't get it. But I haven't been out there in a few nights because my finger is so messed up. So I think I'll watch tonight and see if they go in the house, because if they've been sleeping in the little clover patch in the barn yard for the last 3 nights I'm going to be really upset with myself.
    Thankfully its warming up a bit here.

    When I get them in the new cage, should I put it in the run or should I put it on the outside of the run? I think on the outside, because I don't want the hen to do anything crazy if they're in the run with her. Plus, I'm separating a rooster to a dog crate because he's leaving me soon, he's going to stay in the coop with the rest of them. So I think my run will be over run with extra cages for special birds! haha.

    Stupid racist hen. How ridiculous.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
  7. Moonkit

    Moonkit Chillin' With My Peeps

    493
    18
    121
    Apr 20, 2011
    Richardson, Texas
    Yeah.. my little Kerowyn is a gem. I'd go ahead and put it in the run with her.. if they're behind wire, there's nothing she can do anyway.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a pic of Kerowyn with the last brood she hatched. Such a good momma!
     
  8. bluegiantsc

    bluegiantsc Chillin' With My Peeps

    201
    7
    81
    Jun 7, 2012
    York, SC
    Shes such a pretty girl! Now i want one!
     
  9. Moonkit

    Moonkit Chillin' With My Peeps

    493
    18
    121
    Apr 20, 2011
    Richardson, Texas
    Well.. do remember that not all chickens are alike.. even those of the same breed. I will say that I was/am very hands on in raising my chickens.. most were purchased as chicks or PoL pullets and handled daily. With the exception of my neurotic polish, you can easily pick up any of my hens without them panicing. I can even carry the bantams 1 handed on their sides. The result is what can often lead to chickens like Kerowyn, who doesn't mind being 'messed with' when she's on the nest. I can lift her up to look at eggs or chicks and she won't even peck. The most she'll do is hiss, grumble, and mutter until I set her down again.

    But on the flip side.. she's not easily scared off being broody. Which can be a problem for other people.. nothing's worse than having a hen abandon a nest a week in because you happened to touch them while they were on the nest. I've seen other people post that they tried to move their broody into a crate and she abandoned the nest. Of the 5 of my hens who have gone broody, only 1 abandoned her nest after being moved.. but Kerowyn was broody at the time and happily claimed the extra eggs.

    Other things I do are to make sure they're serious about brooding. I let them sit for 2 weeks or more (note my earlier story about Kero sitting for 3 months on nothing) before I'll even consider giving them real eggs to hatch (I don't keep roosters, so they can sit all they like, nothing of mine will hatch). During those 2 weeks, I will harrass, bother, and mess with them repeatedly... lifting them up, carrying them around, tossing them from the nest, moving the nestbox, changing/removing bedding, cold baths, ice cubes in place of eggs, etc.. After that.. if they're still broody, then I'll consider either leaving them to sit for no reason or getting them eggs. I've never kept any of the chicks.. I usually either sell them, or once I did lend Kero as a broody. This method has weeded out those who weren't serious, like my polish, who gave up after 2 days, or the SLW who didn't even last a full day. My millie fleur/cochin mix lasted the 2 weeks and then abandoned after being moved to a crate. lol!

    But also, having hand tamed hens means they'll let you handle the chicks.. which leads to hand tamed chicks who won't panic because a human walked by. They don't panic when they're picked up for a few moments and fed a choice tidbit. They're tolerant of being looked over and examined for health problems. One family that I sold the first 4 chicks Kerowyn hatched to commented that they'd never had such friendly chicks.
     
  10. bluegiantsc

    bluegiantsc Chillin' With My Peeps

    201
    7
    81
    Jun 7, 2012
    York, SC
    Thats really awesome that all the babies and the hens are so friendly. I've had a huge issue with getting to the chicks since they hatched because of my rooster. The hen is okay with me coming in there and sitting with her and doing whatever, but the rooster is a monster.
    He will be separated tonight and then he'll be gone soon hopefully. Once he's gone I'll be able to get in there and be hands on with the babies and hopefully its not too late to make them friendly.

    The hen is a good hen, shes not super flighty but she does skip around a little bit until I get a hand on her, then I can carry her around and do whatever with her and she's fine. I just don't usually find a need to pick her up all the time, I probably should make a point to pick her up more but you know, life gets in the way of holding hens sometimes. haha.
    Surprisingly enough my rooster used to be the easiest one to pick up. haha. He would follow me around and let me snatch him up whenever, then now he's almost 2 years old and he's lost his mind. He attacks me all the time and he isn't sweet anymore. Its so annoying.

    Hopefully I can make everything okay tonight and hopefully my husband will want to help and at least hold the lantern! LOL.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by