Mama hen is terrorizing her 7-8 week old babies

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mprivett, Jun 1, 2011.

  1. mprivett

    mprivett Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 29, 2010
    Chatham County, NC
    One of my hens, Rosemary, hatched out 7 Dominique chicks about 7-8 weeks ago. They have been separated now for 2-3 weeks in different pens because she was pecking on them and wanted nothing to do with them anymore. One of the 7 chicks she actually rejected when it was about a week or so old, so he has been raised inside in a brooder along with a feed-store Patridge Rock chick for a friend. One factor that I thought could be playing a role was that the rest of the "adult" flock was killed by what we think was a raccoon, so Rosemary is now the only adult left. I think she is probably very lonely and maybe lashing out towards the younger ones?

    When they free range, she consistently tries to attack them, run after, peck, etc. until they run away in fear. A few times one of the little males has actually stood up to her and they had a stare-off competition, he pecked her back a little, but then she ended up going in for the killer peck and the little ones ran away screaming. I am SOOO afraid to integrate them anytime soon.

    I just don't know what's causing or triggering this kind of behavior? Does she sense that the pecking order is changing and she's no longer on top? (Although I don't think she ever was in the first place because we had a pretty awesome rooster who sadly got taken by the predator [​IMG])
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I see my mamas peck at their chicks around 4-5 weeks when they are through with being a mama and go back to roosting with the big girls. But what you are experiencing certainly sounds a lot more violent than anything I've seen. I see gentle pecks or even just feints as if to peck -- nothing violent, just enough to get the chicks off on their own, and stop them from following her around all the time. Sometimes it's enough that she stops clucking to call them to her or to food. I suspect yours no longer recognizes them as "her babies" and just sees them as smaller chickens, which her instinct tells her to attack. I'm afraid they will have to be her size before you can integrate them again. I imagine the stress she feels from the attack isn't helping her stress level at all.

    Sorry this is happening to you.
     
  3. BooBear

    BooBear Chicken Cuddler

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    Conroe, Texas
    Sorry to hear you lost the others. No telling what is trigging her grumpy britches.
    May just need to keep her seperate but where she can see the young ones until they are closer to her size.
    Who knows, she may calm down some from being lonely and change her tune.
     
  4. mprivett

    mprivett Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 29, 2010
    Chatham County, NC
    Thanks. Do you think I need to get her an "adult" hen lady friend or might that cause even more drama?
     
  5. isabellapalomino

    isabellapalomino Out Of The Brooder

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    what ever you do, seperate imediatly!!! one of my chicks got severely injured because of the mom, my hen did the same exact thing yours seems to be doing. now when my chicks see her the run for their lives and try to hide, well actually she died this morning [​IMG] but they did when she was alive. they are much better off without her.
     
  6. mprivett

    mprivett Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 29, 2010
    Chatham County, NC
    Aw, I'm sorry for your loss...but I'm glad your chicks are doing better now. I was hoping to be able to integrate earlier but I'll have to wait and see if Rosemary's behavior changes I guess...

    She even tries to visciously peck them and bite their combs through the hardware cloth [​IMG]
     

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