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Mother hen attacking one chick - hand rear or let nature take own course?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Gemma Ruby, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. Gemma Ruby

    Gemma Ruby New Egg

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    Dec 17, 2013
    Hi All,

    I will try to be brief, but firstly, thanks for the great information on this site!

    I have an Australorpe hen who hatched 10 chicks 10-11 days ago. Two days ago I noticed she had taken a serious dislike to one of the chicks. She growls and fluffs up when it is near her and at one point I saw her throw it about 30 cm from her. The chick isn't injured and mostly it is quick enough to escape. The past two days it has spent most of its time hiding behind a barrier. I have taken it food and water and it is doing well. She has accepted into the nest box the last two nights, although last night she growled at it and it dove under her very quickly. Still alive and OK this morning, but it is now largely ostracised from the other 9 chicks and I am not sure if she will kill it - seems enough time for discipline to have resolved the aggression.

    There are three white, three buff, three black and one multi-coloured chick - it is one of the black chicks she has taken a disliking to and the only difference I can see is a black tip on its beak.

    I am wondering if you have thoughts on why this is happening?

    I am also wondering if I should just let nature take its own course and not interfere, if my interference should be continue to feed and water the chick and get it in the nest box in the evening, or if I should get the chick out and raise it by hand.

    Your experience of these things would be very helpful.

    This is the hen's third lot of chicks, but the last two were lone chicks that she hatched (others died).

    Thanks!
     
  2. LRH97

    LRH97 Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    I had a hen who hatched twelve chicks and four of them, for some reason, she did not allow near the feeder. The rest scratched and pecked and ate with her with no problems. Those four, however, stood huddled in a corner every time I went to check them. I had an extra box and put them in and raised them separate. I just didn't want four chicks to go to waste. Now they're all grown up and living in the same coop. So that's what I did. [​IMG]
     
  3. Gemma Ruby

    Gemma Ruby New Egg

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    Thanks so much! That is exactly what she is doing, but in this instance it is only one chick so it is ostracised from the rest mostly.

    I would be interested to hear how you got them all back together - I thought that this one might never be accepted again.

    I just had a thought - her two other chicks she raised, one each year for the past two years, turned out to be roosters that were eventually re homed because I can't keep them where I live. A gentleman who was raised on a farm was here when they were one week old and said he had had a lot of experience with chickens and they appeared to be mostly cockerels. Might the one she is rejecting be the only pullet?
     
  4. LRH97

    LRH97 Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    I'm sure it will be accepted. If the babies were by themselves, without the mother hen, it probably would have fit right in. As for reasons why the hen did not accept it, there are many reasons for why that is. The one chick might be slightly smaller than the rest or could just be "different" in the hens eyes; who knows, chickens are funny and sometimes frustrating. I introduced them the way I introduce all new birds to my flock. They say to put new birds in an enclosure that is visible to the rest of the flock and leave them in there for two to three weeks before introducing. Personally I let the new birds (especially ones that I raised from chicks) out to range with the rest of the flock. After about a week of doing this, I let the flock out and put the new ones in the coop, so they are there when the others come to roost, lay eggs etc. This is the way I've always done it, and it has worked every time. Now if you have really aggressive birds, I would do the enclosure thing.
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    If you pull the lone chick to raise it yourself, I'd pull an other one of the babies to go with it. I don't know your flock dynamics, how much heat you have available for this little baby, what your philosophy is re: survival of the fittest vs. giving the under dog a fighting chance. Also, how much of an inconvenience would it be for you to hand raise 2 chicks, and re-integrate them later? All of these thought processes will weigh in on your decision re: this baby.
     
  6. Gemma Ruby

    Gemma Ruby New Egg

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    Thanks so much for the advice. I am learning my philosophy on the run really. My experience of interfering hasn't been that good so that was limiting my action - I was really hoping she might accept it in time and it was safe behind a barrier and I was giving it food and water. But last evening, I couldn't leave it in there any longer. I made up a brooder, a bit crude, and put the chick in there with a wheat bag for warmth thinking if it didn't survive the night then, well. But it is alive, well, drinking, eating and making heaps of noise. :) So I will go and get a better heat source today and also snatch another chick to raise by hand. I will try to give them as active a life as possible - seems a bit cruel, almost, to take them from free roaming with mum to a brooder box. So i will make up a little cage where I can put them outside to scratch and dust bathe. Wish me luck -this is my first experience raising by hand! Thanks for the great advice!
     
  7. CasadasHens

    CasadasHens Out Of The Brooder

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    I wish you LOTS of luck! Please keep us updated. I have a pair of young hens sitting side by side on nests and two eggs have hatched so far - the first chick seemed to die of neglect as they let it get cold. I am watching the 2nd one carefully but they don't seem to have much interest in it at the moment [​IMG]
     
  8. silkiechick1994

    silkiechick1994 Out Of The Brooder

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    Whenever my hens hatch chicks I usually take them away the first chance I get. I've got wayyyyyy too many dogs and cats to let my hens take care of them. I'd rather raise them by hand and make sure they live and this also gives me a chance to handle them ad make them tame. I've never been a fan of letting my hens raise them. Not because they can't its just that the chicks won't live. Usually when the mother of any species attack one of its young or ignores it there is either something wrong with the young or they just have a general dislike for that particular one. Either way it makes it very unlikely that it will survive without a mom.
     
  9. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is not cruel to take a chick away from being raised by mom. Especially if one is being picked on by mom. They will only be in your care until mom stops clucking and mothering them at which point you can put them back with their brothers and sisters until they are big enough to go with the adults.
     
  10. gander007

    gander007 Chicken Obsessed

    separate the mother and chick for several weeks and reintroduce in several weeks if you do want to keep the chick but the hen just might see something you can not see [​IMG]


    gander007 [​IMG]
     

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