Mother hen attacking her chicks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chickiepoo, Jun 28, 2007.

  1. chickiepoo

    chickiepoo Songster

    Jun 28, 2007
    coastal South Carolina
    I am new on the forum, and I have a hen who hatched five chicks Tuesday, 26th. Yesterday when I checked them one chick was down. My son found it first and picked it up and said it was breathing and looked okay, it was just squatted down. Well, I made a mistake and told him( without checking the chick myself) to bring it over to the hen with her other chicks and put it down near her. Well, as soon as the chick was out of his hands the hen charged it and jumped on it like it was a threat! She pecked it so badly that it died a few minutes after we got it out of the coop. Reuben was awfully upset about it. I was clueless as to why she did it, but I told him that there must have been something wrong with the chick.
    I checked on them several times today and she and the rest of the chicks were fine, until late this after- noon. Looking in the coop I saw that one chick was missing. I walked in and she ran over to the corner and pecked one time and then went for cover with the other chicks following. In the corner the missing chicks was squatted there. I took it out and brought it in the house and its right leg has been pecked up close to the body but doesn't seem to be broken. I put salve on it and she drank and is wrapped up in a washcloth peeping, but can't stand.
    Does anyone have any idea why a hen would behave this way?
    I have decided to take the others away from her, but she was too aggressive when I went back in the coop a while ago, so I will try again after dark. I don't want her to kill the others!
  2. bigzio

    bigzio Crowing

    Jan 20, 2007
    chickiepoo, If that is the mother hen, then she may not be a good mother. This isn't normal for a hen to kill her peeps. Are you providing chick starter and water in chick feeders for the peeps to eat and survive?
    While she can keep them warm, she can't provide food for them. Welcome to BYC, and good luck....

  3. chickiepoo

    chickiepoo Songster

    Jun 28, 2007
    coastal South Carolina
    Bigzio, Thanks. Yeah that's what I was thinking about her just not being a good mother. I have only had these chickens a few months. (6 hens and 1 roo) But the first hen to hatch out has been a wonderful mother and her chicks are thriving. We are out in the country, and our chickens are free range with free access to the coop with nesting boxes in it, so yes I provide the feed and water, but the hens start showing the peeps how to scratch and find bugs from day one. They go in the horse stalls and scratch the oats that the horses drop and they scratch in the pasture in the horse manure for ...whatever.
    I am going out right now and see if I can get the others out from under her (it's 1:00am here) and separate them from her. She want get any more eggs to hatch!
  4. edbama2

    edbama2 Songster

    Feb 6, 2007
    Slocomb, Alabama
    Keep in mind that animal instinct is stronger and knows better than we do. I would bet that that chic was sick in some way shape or form and would not have made it. In the animal kingdom the mothers cull out the less desirables. Why save one to risk the others? Our mentality is to save everyone of them. It seems natural if the other chics are fine.
  5. allen wranch

    allen wranch Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    San Marcos, TX
    I have an OEGB hen that is an excellent broody hen, but a lousy mother. She takes care of the babies for about two days, then decides they are the enemy.

    The first time I though it was a fluke (took the babies away fast when I saw blood). The next time she hatched, she did the same thing.

    If your mama is acting like that, I wouldn't take a chance letting her keep them even until dark. You might try gloves to pick her up with, or throw a towel over her and lift her off the nest.
  6. dakinsmimi

    dakinsmimi Songster

    Jun 16, 2007
    I too had a mother hen who attacked her babies. She pulled the skin off of their heads - the whole head from the neck up like a degloving injury. I guess some chickens are like some people/ dogs/ etc., they are just not good mothers.

    Mine also was a great broody hen, but a lousy mother.

    Good luck with the rest of the babies.

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