Mama Hen started attacking her own chicks ????

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by bonkers, Oct 1, 2016.

  1. bonkers

    bonkers Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 26, 2009
    Hiawatha, Kansas
    I have an Easter Egger hen that went missing for a month---I figured coyotes had gotten her but she was in my haybarn hiding out. She hatched 16 chicks. Found her the day they had started to hatch out. I moved her to an old empty water tank with lots of hay, feed and water. About ten days into raising her family she brutally started to attack some of her babies. She injured one bad enough that it died. I then took her and put her with the flock and got the babies a heat bulb. Everyone is doing fine now. What my question is---is why did the hen turn on her own babies??? Is this common? Any ideas or suggestions or has anyone had this happen with their hen and new chicks??? I'm curious as I have always taken the hatched babies and put them under a heat lamp and raised them without "mama". I just thought since she was such a good mama I would let her raise them herself. Are Easter Eggers prone to being aggressive???
  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    I think it is likely that that is just her temperament, and not necessarily a knock on the breed. Some hens like little chicks but not older ones, and others don't like the feeling of those little babies squirming around underneath them. Most hens that are good with chicks at the beginning will be fine with them until they are older, this hen is just a very unusual exception to that.
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    Not every broody hen is cut out for being a mother. Simple as that.
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Check hen carefully first make certain she is not too thin. Then look and listen to chicks. Anything that makes hen not hear the same voices can cause as observed. If attacks only some of the chicks then odds problem with chicks attacked.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2016
  5. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    She did amazingly well hatching 16 chicks! My first broody hatched 14 and I thought that was really good!

    How big was the water tank? After 10 days she may have been frustrated at being confined in a small area with all those chicks and just lost it or perhaps the chicks she pecked were sick. Not sure I could cope with being locked in a room with 16 kids for 10 days with no relief or time for myself!
    After a few days I allow my broody hens and chicks to free range with the flock. One of the first things they are desperate to do is have a dust bath.

    My guess would be that the close confinement stressed her and she took it out on the chicks.
  6. bonkers

    bonkers Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 26, 2009
    Hiawatha, Kansas
    Thank you everyone for the ideas and information. I thought perhaps it was because I moved her or perhaps the tank too small----it's probably five foot long and two and half feet wide. It's a nice size and it's what I put all my nursery chicks I ordered in. I can lay a piece of netted wire over the top which keeps my barncats out of them. I was afraid to let them free range as I had just lost ten birds to coyotes or dogs...... they are doing fine now. Mama is happy to be back with the flock and babies are doing great under the heat lamp. I'd say Mama was just too confined maybe. I bought her as a hatchling at Orscheln's this spring so I was surprised she sat her first eggs!!!!!

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