hen killing chicks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mhawley, May 5, 2007.

  1. mhawley

    mhawley New Egg

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    May 5, 2007
    Please forgive me if this has already been addressed . . . I couldn't find it under past topics. My last two mother hens have pecked a few of their chicks to death and I was wondering why they do this? Do they know which ones are not theirs? They were not weak chicks, in fact all have been as big and healthy as their siblings. Is it because they were late-comers hatching several days after the others? Any light shed would be much appreciated.
     
  2. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    So, they both pecked a couple of chicks but not all of them?? [​IMG]
    I've only had experience with one extreme or the other- I have one hen that will adopt anything and another that runs away screaming when she sees her babies for the first time.
    I hope somebody here knows!
     
  3. akcskye

    akcskye Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 11, 2007
    A thought would be that just because they appear healthy and vital to you doesn't necessarily mean they are.

    In the case of cats, you can have perfectly normal looking kittens whose mothers abandon them but not the rest of the litter, and it's usually because of a problem that only the mother knows.

    This happened to me once with a kitten I took in that was abandoned.

    She lived with us for about a month and died in my arms on the way to the vet...he autopsied and she had had a bad heart and died of heart failure.
     
  4. tffstpp

    tffstpp Out Of The Brooder

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    May 1, 2007
    williamsport pa
    I don't think she killed them because they were later. I've had a few late hatchers that couldn't keep up with momma hen and the sibs that the hen ended up abandoning. (Don't worry! I took them uner my "wing".) Anyway, I think your hen would have simply abandoned them if they were to weak/young to keep up with the rest.
     
  5. mhawley

    mhawley New Egg

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    May 5, 2007
    She did it again last night. One hatched overnight and was pecked to death before I found it this morning. There are two more eggs under her that I'm afraid to leave in there, but I don't have incubation, so don't really have a choice. I managed to rescue two from the last hen, healed and successfully raised them to 2 months old. But they were killed later when I tried to re-introduce them to the flock. Are there tricks to getting them to accept new-comers?
     
  6. BeckyLa

    BeckyLa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    N. Louisiana
    Just an idea, do you have a heating pad? Since the eggs are right at the point of hatch you could try laying them on a dry wash rag on your pad, set on low, and just lay a dry wash rag over them to help hold in the heat. If you are at home and can, I'd try leaving them under the hen until the eggs pip then try to hatch them.
     
  7. chickbea

    chickbea Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2007
    Vermont
    Are the mothers isolated from the rest of the flock? If not, they may just be so stressed that they are taking it out on the babies.
     
  8. mhawley

    mhawley New Egg

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    May 5, 2007
    Thanks for the idea, Becky. I might just try it. (one of my favorite verses, by the way!).
     

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