New born chicks attacked by hens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by saharabreeze, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. saharabreeze

    saharabreeze New Egg

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    Apr 23, 2011
    Hi,
    Really dismayed after sending out the call yesterday that I was a grandmother to my first batch of chicks. So far...

    I have 2 white Silkie hens, one ugly bantam and a lovely Silkie rooster. They have a lovely little free range area and a plush dog house with straw as their hen house (they have a proper house but they prefer not to use it).

    Hens went broody so stopped collecting the eggs and waited for nature to do it's job. 'buck-buck' the rooster was a very busy boy and bopped his sweet hens every time I was around. By the time the first chick hatched I think I counted in excess of 15 eggs from all three hens in the clutch.

    This morning when I went out there were two little brown chicks and two little cream ones and one starting to hatch. I came back in the afternoon and the two brown ones were fine (I think because they were older) but there was a dead brown one and the two creamies were weak as they had been pecked to the point the hair around their neck had been pulled away, just horrible. So I brought them into the house and warmed up a wheat bag, wrapped a tea towel around it and plaCed them on top to keep them warm with a lamp. I knew they were going to die but I couldn't bare them being pecked to death and trodden on.

    MY QUESTIONs: why would a new born chick be pecked to death when it was thriving? what can I do about it? What should I be doing differently? Also I noticed there were about five eggs moved close to the entrance and had gone cold so I removed as I figured they were no longer viable.

    I also bought some chick feed and placed a little water feeder in the hen house for the chicks.

    Thanks for any insights and help and apologize if I have afforded any chicken lovers with my bumbling
    Cheers Katerina
    [​IMG]
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    Were they pecked by the mothers or by other hens in the flock?

    It is a good idea to separate a broody hen from the rest of the flock to avoid this kind of thing from happening. I only have experience with one broody hen (whose chicks are only 3 1/2 weeks old) so others with more experience may chime in. When my hen went broody, I separated her to a small coop/run that had not been in use for awhile. She was able to see/hear the rest of the flock but they couldn't get in and mess with her nest/eggs. After the chicks hatched, she and the chicks stayed there for the first 2 1/2 weeks and then gradually started to have time out with the rest of the flock.

    One thing I observed is that the broody hen, who is the 5th highest ranking member in my flock, would viciously attack any lower ranking hen who dared come near her chicks, but didn't bat an eyelid when one of the higher ranking hens wandered near.

    This makes me think that your chicks were *probably* attacked by a higher ranking hen than the chick's mama, and she was therefore unable to protect them. It would be advisable to separate the broody hen now before any more are attacked.
     
  3. kitkatnoah

    kitkatnoah Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:x2 I did the same thing with my broody and her chicks. When the chicks were 6 weeks old, I let them out with their mama to free range and she would attack any lower ranking hen that came too close to her & her chicks. The higher ranking hens would peck on the chicks but the chicks were bigger & could run faster to get away. After a week, the rest of the flock ignored the chicks and did their own thing. Now the chicks are 3 months old and are able to peck back! [​IMG]
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I've had 5 or 6 clutches of chicks raised by their broody mama in with the flock. The mamas protected the chicks, wouldn't let the other hens within a few feet of the chicks. There's really no predicting how the dynamics will work out in any particular flock, just as mamas vary in how good a job they do of raising the chicks. Some even abandon the nest before they hatch or kill their chicks as they hatch. My roos have been protective or have ignored the chicks but I have read of roos killing chicks.

    Hatcheries have been brooding away from broodiness for a while now, since people usually want eggs and broodies/mamas don't lay, and I really think this is part of why we see such variation in how it goes with hatching by broodies and chicks. Lots of folks do separate their broodies and chicks. I don't like to for two reasons. First, it's not been a problem here, so far. Second, when the mama decides not to mother the chicks any more, they are usually 4-6 weeks or so, not full size, and would not be safe in the flock on their own if the flock wasn't already used to them. For me these chicks have been ostracized or chosen to hang together, away from the flock, but it gradually works itself out, and the full size ones become a part of the flock.
     
  5. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Quote:This is why I started letting them out with the flock when the chicks were 2-2 1/2 week old - so that they could become a part of the flock naturally, while Mama is still taking care of them. So far, so good. They actually get in there and nab pieces of treats with the other older hens. So far, it seems preferable to me than the chicks I've raised in a brooder that have to then be integrated with the flock. In those cases, they tended to stick to themselves all the way up until they were laying and only then would the rest of the flock accept them. My broody raised chicks already seem like members of the flock - albeit small members. It will be interesting to see what happens when Mama stops tending them.

    Flockwatcher, how do you keep the other hens from laying in the nest the broody is on, if you don't separate them, or is that not an issue for you? In my case since I have no rooster, I didn't want the other hens adding their non-fertile eggs to the broody nest so separating seemed to be a solution to that. (Plus, the broody had chosen the favorite nest to brood in and that was causing bickering among the other hens who wanted to get in there to lay).
     
  6. saharabreeze

    saharabreeze New Egg

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    Apr 23, 2011
    Thank you so much for replying, I really appreciate it! Will work on these improvements, fingers crossed
    Cheers Katerina
     
  7. Miyashi

    Miyashi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 20, 2011
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    I have no idea but I'll offer what I did and see if it will help in the future...
    I don't know how big your coop is, mine used to be a garden shed from I can tell, so I had plenty of space for this.
    While my hen sat, she had total access to the coop and run as she always did.
    When it came to "lockdown" time, I moved her from a nesting box to an old grape container (the wood with the cardboard bottom) and placed a home made wire cage over the top of her right inside the coop.
    Her babies hatched and while the other girls didn't have direct access to the chicks, they could see them.
    A few weeks later, when the babies were feathered, I took the cage off and there was really no issue with them and the big girls who weren't Momma.
    They'd nip them in the butt now and then, but mostly they all just showed them how to do normal chicken things.
    I'm sorry you had to go through that.
    I did lose a chick in that hatch...but I guess my hen knew something was wrong with it.
    She got off of it and then tried attacking it every time it moved.
    I brought him in the house, but he didn't make it. Sometimes they know and sometimes they just get stupid.
    I know sometimes if there is more than one broody hen they will fight over chicks.
    I've heard about it anyway, never experienced it.
    It's early for me...
    Sorry if none of this applies...
    I know I was getting somewhere...
     

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