I'm in trouble again..!

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by huntsman, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. huntsman

    huntsman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 8, 2010
    South Africa
    I'm pretty sure I've messed up here and would appreciate some guidance, pls?

    I have a mixed flock of about 9 standards and 7 or 8 bantams. I guess that five or six girls have started laying, though I'm not sure which ones, and we get about five eggs a day on average.

    Only the banties seem interested in brooding, and one has now got two chicks running about with her and they have received no adverse attention from the flock. Another hen is on two eggs and another on 13 eggs.

    The 13 egg parent has just given birth to six chicks, two of which we attacked by one of the standard hens and killed after three days!

    Could there be insufficient space to lay eggs causing the standard to react violently?

    Could 13 eggs be too many for the hen to control, and if so, what do I do?? [​IMG]

    There are three laying/brooding boxes in the coop and the brooding females occupy two of these with one left open for laying. The door to the run is open all day, giving the brood hen access to food and water, but unfortunately also allowing access to the hens who come in to lay, or kill the chicks....

    Any help would be great!

    (PS, for the moment we have closed the door to the coop and placed food and water inside for brood hen and chicks, and placed a nesting box outside in the run, but this seems very much a 'short-term' solution)
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    With that many hens, I'd add at least one more nest box. Since you have the broodies, I'd actually add at least two more. Space can be a huge problem with chickens. Some chickens are aggressive and will go out of their way to attack chicks, but usually a broody can raise the chicks with the flock without any problems. I've had two week old chicks mix in with other adults to try to eat with them. They sometimes receive pecking order type pecks, not trying th kill them but just to tell the chicks they are too low on the totem pole to eat with the adults. The chicks usually run to Mama for comfort but I've never had one killed.

    I'm confused. If a hen hatched 6 chicks out of 13 eggs three days ago, why is she still on the nest? She should have left the nest by now to feed and water her babies, with any eggs that have not hatched left behind abandoned. That nest should be open to the other chickens for laying. Some people say their broodies take the chicks back to the nest at night, but I've never had one do that. Mine just take them to a corner of the coop and sleep on the ground. Either way, the nest should be open during the day. The hen should have her chicks out looking for food during the day, not staying on the nest.

    13 eggs can be too many for a broody bantam to control. Bantams come in all sizes. Eggs come in all sizes. I don't know how many yours can cover and keep warm. It may be three. It may be a dozen. She needs to be able to cover all of them at the same time. If she cannot cover them all, the ones not covered can cool off and die. The way I handle it is to mark the eggs I want her to hatch, put them all under her at the same time so they hatch at the same time, and daily remove any unmarked eggs under her.
  3. huntsman

    huntsman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 8, 2010
    South Africa
    Quote:Advice taken and followed. One new box added already, but outside the coop. Is that fine? Coop is a little small for another box inside...

    Quote:Point noted! I'm not sure how many eggs are still intact under her, but she's definitely sitting on several and has at least four chicks still alive. Shall I move her and the chicks to a place of safety, perhaps?

    Quote:Yeah, I've been reading up on this aspect all day....

    I think she can cover about nine of assorted sizes, but actually had a couple on a second level when we peeped in at the weekend. From what I've read this is not good?

    Perhaps we should remove all eggs and start again with another brood hen?

    Thank you very much for your contribution! [​IMG]

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