Mother hen being very mean to babies she hatched but were not from her eggs

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by Lobzi, Apr 7, 2018.

  1. Lobzi

    Lobzi Crowing

    I have a mother hen who hatched many babies with two other hens in the same nest box. There were two eggs in an abandoned nest so I gave these eggs to the three broodies. All the hatchlings are light in color or brown but the two from the abandoned nest hatched out black. Two of the hens are being very mean. pecking the black ones. One of the darker hens does not peck and mothers the black colored babies but does not protect them. The problem is all three hens are together and still sitting on unhatched eggs. Is there any way to train the two mean hens to accept the black babies?
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    This can be a common problem where a hen refuses to accept chicks of a completely different color. Unfortunately, chickens see colors in a much more acute way than we do, so there isn't any way to fool them.

    Your best bet is to brood these dark chicks yourself. Leaving them with the hens risks injury and death.
    sevenfatcows likes this.
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    What Azygous says. I find it puzzling that you say there are a lot of chicks, yet all 3 hens are still sitting on eggs.
  4. Morrigan

    Morrigan Free Ranging

    Apr 9, 2014
    N. California
    They can be color sensitive. I had one brown broody who I gave two chicks to foster -- one white and one brown. She examined both fairly carefully and then drove the white chick out of the nest. Doted on the brown one.

    On the other hand, there could be something about the dynamic of so many hens on the same nest that is causing problems, and making them suspicious that the hatchlings aren't "theirs."
    azygous and lazy gardener like this.
  5. Lobzi

    Lobzi Crowing

    Thank you all. I took the two babies away. I gave them to another broody in the coop that is separate from the three I fore mentioned. I will check on them and hope for the best.
  6. Lobzi

    Lobzi Crowing

    An off topic comment.
    I suspected the issue of color and how each day Im dressed in a different set of clothes. I make it a point to talk to my chickens as I approach them specifically for that reason, different clothes of different colors might equal a different being but I know they always recognize my voice.
  7. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    While chickens are very sensitive to color and pattern and even your style (we had someone whose hen objected to her wearing curlers one morning into the run and flew at her head) they are recognizing your face.

    Not only do chickens recognize up to 100 different faces of their flock mates, but they recognize their human care givers' faces and visiting friends, as well.
  8. Lobzi

    Lobzi Crowing

    Oh the is very interesting that them recognize faces.

    Update I put the two mean hens in an enclosure with the babies who are oldest. Gracie, the nice and accepting of the black chicks mom is still with me brooding eggs and caring for the black and younger chicks. One of the newest hatched light colored babies with being pecked really meanly by the mean hens so there might be more than a color issue going on here. Anyway, it seems to be resolved for the sake of the black babies.
    azygous likes this.
  9. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Hens bond to their chicks within 24 to 36 hours of hatching. It is unusual for hens to continue brooding after that, but any chicks hatched after that time frame might be regarded as 'strangers'. It almost sounds as if the color might be coincidental to actual bonding problems.
    azygous likes this.
  10. Lobzi

    Lobzi Crowing

    Forgot Gracie and babies.png Gracie and her babies
    Morrigan likes this.

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