Mama picking at 3-day old chick's wings until bloody

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by VenturaChickenMama, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. VenturaChickenMama

    VenturaChickenMama New Egg

    Nov 12, 2008
    Our Sebright/Old English cross bantam hen has been broody for about a month (based on my thought that her egg was not yet fertile, so I added another hen's egg about 10 days later), and her chicks (crossed with Millie Fleur bantam) hatched two and three days ago. She had been an awesome mama, but today she started picking at the wings of the chick that hatched first. They are both a little bloody now. I have taken him (I am actually unsure of gender) out for the time being, but I would love to reunite them -- I am just unwilling to allow her to continue to harm him. I tend to be really hands-off with allowing them to follow their instincts and innate knowledge of how to function naturally, although we do allow them to sleep in a cage in the house and my 4-year old daughter does hold the adults a LOT, so I know they are not *totally* "natural" chickens. They are very tame, but this hen was always dominant and mean to the others in the flock, but she had changed a lot with being broody in a positive direction.

    Should I put something (non-chemical or suppressive) on the wings, or should it be fine since it is not actively bleeding or looking very bad at all? Should I just presume it will not be able to be reunited with the Mama? Is she likely to attack the other one now? Also, (this might have been the absolute wrong thing to do, but...) another hen laid an egg this morning, and I got it immediately, while still warm, and placed it under the mama, thinking it might calm her, but is she then going to neglect these babies? I just don't want to have to take them away and leave her with nothing! Help!!!

    Kim R.
    Ventura, CA
    Wife to Port (12-19-01)
    Mama to Peanut (born safely at home, 10-11-04)
    "Mama" to Cory (shepherd mix dog), Godiva (mini-Lop rabbit), and the flock (Girlfriend and her two chicks (Peep and Tweety), Spirit, Mama Horsey, and our one roo, Flicka)
  2. Bellecreek

    Bellecreek New Egg

    Nov 12, 2008
    It sounds like your hen is just not a good momma.

    It is NOT normal for a hen to peck at her chick.

    Therefore, I would err on the safety of the chick - take it away from Momma, and raise it yourself.

    Try and raise it with other chicks if at all possible.

    Although I have very limited experience with letting a hen raise a brood - the few I've had were always very good mothers.

    In fact, they would always make "here's food" sounds, and place crumbles in front of their brood. They were VERY protective of their chicks, and the babies would always sleep nestled under their wings. At first, I was very scared that the other hens/roosters would harm the chicks, but the mother hens were so protective that no other chcken would dare interfere with the chicks.

    Actually, not even my cats would mess with the chicks, because the Momma was on patrol!

    As for giving her more fertile eggs to brood - DO NOT!

    Broody hens hardly eat for the length of time it takes to incubate the eggs. Stop her broodiness NOW, and forget about her raising chicks in the future.
  3. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    I agree with NOT let her sit on another egg and, if it were me, I'd take the other chick as well and raise them together away from the mother. She'll get over it quickly enough and go on without a care in the world.
  4. VenturaChickenMama

    VenturaChickenMama New Egg

    Nov 12, 2008
    Thanks for the info. I will add some more, to see if it makes an impact. She does all the "good mama" things you are talking about (gentle Mama noises, responding to them, protecting them (she tried to attack (i.e., fly in the face and squawk at) our 50 pound dog - who is totally submissive and knows that the chickens are not food), placing food before them, making sure they stay under her when perceived threats are around, etc.), but she is not outside being a typical chicken. She was a perfect Mama until the second hatched, and I started letting my daughter hold them a little. I had noticed her picking at the tip of this little one's wing when she wanted him to go back underneath her. I think that either he is headstrong, or she got carried away, but now she is enjoying the blood? Or something along those lines? I am hoping that it will heal quickly, the blood will cease to be an issue, and she will go back to being a great Mama! I am keeping my daughter away, covering them when we are not able to be right on top of her behavior, and I am praying! I am afraid that we undermined her natural instincts by taking them with us for the past two days, so I could keep an eye on her, and causing her to feel threatened by our presence. I do not want to allow him to be hurt, but whenever we separate them, the baby cries almost nonstop, although she seems content with her one other baby (the second hatched). And she doesn't really seem to be paying attention to the egg much at all. She sits on it, if she happens to, but she doesn't treat it will the loving care she did these two.

    And I had always heard that about broody hens, so I have been feeding and watering her in the nest for the whole month. She eats and drinks great, and she would get up every few days to poop (HUGE, dog-like poops), but she poops in or out of the nest since they hatched, always right nearby.

    If any of this changed your opinions or give you some more clarity for further advice, I would love it! Thanks in advance!
  5. plester01

    plester01 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2007
    From my experience seabrights are mean anyway. I had one try to kill a baby, but I rescued it and raised them all myself. I will not ever have seabrights again. By the way the seabright is no longer a member of the group.

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