Hen attacks her chicks?

Valleytine

In the Brooder
Jul 25, 2019
8
7
11
I have with three eggs that were due to hatch today. A few days ago one of her eggs had been stepped on (at least that was what it looked like?) and when we went to remove it she went crazy trying to eat it. Now that the first baby has hatched as soon as she caught sight of it she went to go attack. She also went after its eggshell. We had to remove the baby and bring it inside with a heat lamp (it seems to be doing well, we brought its shell with it and it has pecked at that quite a bit).
She still has two eggs that are in the beginning stages of hatching and I'm nervous. Do I just have to remove all of them? Can I take them out for a day or two and then reintroduce? I was really hoping she would raise them completely and I wouldn't have to raise them myself.
 

Lady of McCamley

Free Ranging
10 Years
Mar 19, 2011
7,459
5,457
502
NW Oregon
I'm so sorry you have this happening.

This is a first time broody and first time brooding for you, I take it.

Many hens are nervous first time mothers, and if disturbed at all, will attack anything in the way, including the vulnerable chick at their feet which they view as a threat to the hatching eggs.

You can see if this plays out well, but only if you can observe her without disturbing her. Hopefully nature will take its course.

However, I have misgivings about this mother. Some hens go into mental brood and view anything that moves around their eggs as the enemy. I obviously don't use those hens in my flock (they actually get re-homed or culled).

It has taken me years, but I have a hatch friendly flock now with mommies who give me the stink eye but lovingly hatch their broods, even in the middle of the flock coop. But I've had to cull or re-home some bad mothers in the process. Baby eaters are the first to go and never allowed to breed or stay in my flock.

Above all, I have learned to not interrupt or mess with a new mother. You can get a lot of bizarre behavior that way too.

My gut? If she began this behavior AFTER you disturbed her, you have an over-reactive mother. If you can watch her unseen, and she settles, this may go well....but be prepared to take the chicks if she still over-reacts. If you were doing nothing but came upon her attacking her chick, take the eggs now.

Good luck. Post what you decide to do, and what works.

LofMc
 

Valleytine

In the Brooder
Jul 25, 2019
8
7
11
It's actually not the first time for me - I've only had wonderful experiences before :( this is the first time for the hen though.

She's weirdly unreactive in all other situations, and honestly didn't even fuss when I grabbed the chick. She's never pecked when I candled the eggs, or when I had to remove ones that weren't growing - only when she sees the chick/broken shell. We tried backing off for a bit but she still went after the chick so we made the decision to take it after that.

I'm so nervous about taking the eggs before they hatch so we're having somebody check every hour, is that silly? I don't have an incubator to put them in, only the heat lamp. This was pretty unplanned.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
17,726
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
I have with three eggs that were due to hatch today. A few days ago one of her eggs had been stepped on (at least that was what it looked like?) and when we went to remove it she went crazy trying to eat it. Now that the first baby has hatched as soon as she caught sight of it she went to go attack. She also went after its eggshell. We had to remove the baby and bring it inside with a heat lamp (it seems to be doing well, we brought its shell with it and it has pecked at that quite a bit).
She still has two eggs that are in the beginning stages of hatching and I'm nervous. Do I just have to remove all of them? Can I take them out for a day or two and then reintroduce? I was really hoping she would raise them completely and I wouldn't have to raise them myself.
Eating damaged egg natural and can be essential for survival of remaining clutch. How long has she been incubating when the chick she attacked was hatched?
 

Valleytine

In the Brooder
Jul 25, 2019
8
7
11
Eating damaged egg natural and can be essential for survival of remaining clutch. How long has she been incubating when the chick she attacked was hatched?

Yeah that's what we initially assumed and we weren't concerned, but after the chick situation I wasn't sure if that would be relevant or not - it was probably unrelated but I've never had a situation like this so I wasn't sure if that would be helpful information :)

We gave her the eggs on May 20!
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
17,726
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
If I understand correctly, then she should be at least 20 days into an incubation cycle. That is what I call good. Are you certain she was full on broody for duration of that time?
 

Valleytine

In the Brooder
Jul 25, 2019
8
7
11
Yes, she seemed to get off the nest every day at about 1:00 to eat and drink and that was pretty much it. She was broody for about a week and a half before we gave her the eggs though, could that be an issue?
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
17,726
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
For my hens, incubation needs to be for at least 18 days before imprinting window opens. Prior to that hen will not register chick as a chick, rather it will be regarded as a threat to her unhatched brood.
 

Valleytine

In the Brooder
Jul 25, 2019
8
7
11
Yeah she's definitely had them for at least 18 days, and the chick only hatched a few hours ago so it was pretty late in the day as well.
 

MANNA-PRO

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