Momma Hens + Chick Hatching advice?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Gracer, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. Gracer

    Gracer New Egg

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    Aug 28, 2012
    Hi - I have two broody hens (one Polish, one cochin) who were sitting on a clutch of 6 eggs . the eggs began hatching today. Both hens have been sitting together on the same nest for 3 weeks. Who should I let be the mother hen? Should I separate a few eggs for the Polish hen and let the cochin have the other 4? last I checked it looked as if the Polish hen was pecking at one of the baby chicks while under the cochin's wings. does this mean she will peck the chicks to death? Currently i have them outside in their hen house and plan to separate momma and chicks from the other adult hens. how soon after hatching should i do this? When do i introduce the water and chick feed for the babies - same day or one day later after hatching?

    also, a strange thing happened two days ago. i originally had 7 eggs under momma hens. the other day one was missing and i never found it. i have no idea what became of this egg as i never saw any remnants of it. could the hens have eaten it i f it tried to hatch? did it die? total mystery to me. thanks to anyone for advice to my many questions!
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Lots of people have two broodies that work together to raise chicks, but some have disasters when they try this. You are dealing with living animals. Anything can happen. One of the things that can happen is that one hen may kill the chicks that the other hen has. Sounds like that may be your problem. I‘d separate them at once.

    In don’t know the details of how you are set up, but I’d consider locking one broody with the chicks that have hatched in one place and leave the other on the nest to hatch the rest of the eggs. That’s assuming there are too many eggs for one hen to cover. If one hen can cover all of the eggs and chicks, I’d take one hen away and break her from being broody. It probably doesn’t matter which one, depending on size, but I’d favor the one that was not pecking the chicks. A risk if you take one hen and chicks away is that the other will abandon the nest and try to follow the chicks.

    Many hens peck their chicks as discipline. They may be telling them something like, get back under me where it is safe. So a hen pecking her chick is not something that bothers me that much as long as it is not a repeated attack. But with her pecking a chick under the other hen I’d be real concerned.
     
  3. Gracer

    Gracer New Egg

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    Aug 28, 2012
    thank you for the quick reply and advice. i just went to check on them. so far three babies are under the cochin and she is still sitting on the other 3 eggs. the polish hen (who has also been broody and jointly sitting on the nest with the cochin) is sitting next to the cochin as close as she can. this next is a double wide box, meaning i could take the polish and two unhatched eggs and stick them under her next to the cochin. i also have another (empty) double wide nesting box and considered putting her over there with some eggs. or i could take her out all together and leave all eggs/chicks with the cochin. i briefly took the polish out and she was angry and upset and went back in immediiately. this is my set up (coop on the left): http://www.thegardencoop.com/
    i also have another area i can put a momma and chicks in later when they are all hatched (converted dog house with straw/pine shavings on the floor). i can do that if it looks like i need to separate the momma hen from the rest of my flock.
    i need to monitor the pecking and see if it is harmful or discipline as you suggest. right now the hens seem to want privacy and don't want me looking at them (hackles are raised). is it proper to pick up momma and check on eggs/chicks or just let her keep sitting on them? I was a little worried she might smother them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Don't pick her up!!!! I killed a chick doing that once.

    It is not unusual for a chick to crawl up under the hens wings. I picked a hen up once and a chick was up there. I crushed it.

    I find it best to leave the hen alone during hatch. A broody should be very protective of her chicks and eggs. She can get quite agitated at any perceived threat and you are a threat to her. They'll stomp around, puff themselves up and try to intimidate any threat. Chicks can get hurt when she does that.

    It's quite possible that was why the other hen pecked that chick. She may have been telling it to "get back under the hen where it is safe. There is a huge monster out here that can hurt you". You were that monster.
     
  5. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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