Hen stole nest of eggs, then killed chicks


10 Years
Dec 30, 2012
I've had a hen trying to steal a nest from another hen for about a week. I kept tossing her off but she kept coming back, so eventually I decided to let them work it out. So two days ago the interloper won out. Today, only two days after the 2nd hen won the contest, was hatch day. I just came home and found the chicks badly pecked on the head and neck, and one on the lower back also. This last one was out in the coop but the other two were still in the nest box but away from the hen. A rooster was in the coop, so I can imagine he might have been working on the one that was out of the net box, but my gut feeling is that the interloper hen probably started the job on all three. After all, how would the rooster get to the chicks with mom right there? Neither the hen nor the rooster had visible blood on them. The hen is an experienced mother, having raised a couple of broods of guinea keets. The rooster is rather aggressive toward the hens and previous chicks. I had been wondering what a hen would do if eggs hatched under her after only a few days. So do I have my answer now? Is it likely she is the one who attacked them, thinking they were something foreign in the nest? BTW, all three are still alive but were chilled, are inactive, and have raw places where they were pecked. I put some Blu-Kote on them but am thinking they probably need an antibiotic in their water, assuming I can get any water in them. I tried dipping their bills in water with no response, but I'm letting them warm up some before I try again. I have some Sulfadimethoxine that says it's an antibacterial, and some Chlortetracycline HCL that's an antibiotic. Any opinions and/or recommendations would be appreciated.
It's hard to say who did it without seeing it. I have had experienced moms take chicks after being broody only a short time. If they hatched under her she should have been fine. Any wandering chicks can be killed by other chickens, it's always best to confine them in some manner or move the group shortly after hatching to somewhere safe.

Keep the chicks warm and see how they do. They won't require food or water for about 2 days. I wouldn't force either on them nor would I bother with antibiotics. If they are to come around they will after being warmed and allowed to rest.

For me, a broody hatching is always a stressful time that requires me to be there to make sure the hen is going to accept the chicks, not every hatch works out well, sorry yours didn't, hopefully the chicks will recover quickly.
Thanks for the response. I do normally move the family to a smaller cage within the coop once the chicks get out from under mom. But these had just hatched yesterday and shouldn't really have been wandering yet. That's why I'm wondering if the hen is the one who attacked them. Usually the hens are so protective, it just seems unlikely that the rooster could have gotten to them. But who knows. Update this morning is that one of the chicks died overnight but the other two are still hanging in there. I'd love to hear more opinions from other people, too, especially from anyone who has put just-about-to-hatch eggs under a broody hen.

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