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Newborns + Carnivorous Chickens = Bad Outcome

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by joe12pack, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. joe12pack

    joe12pack Songster

    Sep 4, 2010
    San Rafael
    I had quite a crazy day yesterday. To date I have raised all my chickens from purchased day old chicks that I raise in a brooder. Recently, one of my hens became broody. Enter Harriet, Hen #1.

    During this time, other hens would lay their eggs in her nest box so eventually she was sitting on a dozen eggs or so, all layed within a week of each other. I know I didn't do a good job of batching the eggs within a day of each other. Around day 14, another hen decided she was going to be broody and sit in the same box. Enter Goldie, Hen #2. So Harriet and Goldie are sitting in the same box on top of the eggs together.


    Around Day 21 two of the eggs hatch and I decided to move Harriet and the 2 newborns to a separate coop. It's actually a coop within the larger run area so the other chickens all look in at Harriet and her newborns. Goldie has always been a flighty bird and during this time she gets even more neurotic. She would rotate between sitting on the remaining eggs, and camping outside goldie's coop throughout the day. Obviously I am thinking she thinks those babies are hers. Eventually 2 more chicks hatch over the next few days. I move these chicks to be with Harriet because they have their own separate water, food, shelter, etc. Here's is Goldie glued to the separate run, wanting to be with the chicks.


    Several days pass and Harriet and her 4 young chicks eventually go outside (still protected by a cage). The other hens all look with curiosity, and then there's goldie pacing back and forth outside, trying to find a way in. The cage was not totally secure but at the time I had nothing to worry about so it didn't bother me.

    This is where the story gets crazy. I heard some loud baby chirps so I went outside and I could see immediately that one of the baby chicks head was bloody and Harriet was picking at this open wound. I grabbed the chick and brought it inside and did some basic bandaging. This chick was inside the cage. Here is a picture of the bandaged chick. From the top of the head to the bottom of the neck, the chick's fur was actually scalped and pulled down so the entire back of the head was bare flesh. I could not figure out how to put back that fur.


    I went back outside to check on the other 3 chicks. As I was approaching the flock of hens, I noticed one of them had something in it's beak. I knew it was food because when one hen finds something tasty she tries to keep the other hens away from it. It appeared at a distance to be an 8" lizard. As I got closer, I recognized that it was one of the baby chicks. It was definitely dead and looked like a lot of the insides had been eaten/torn out.

    I had no idea what was going on. I knew Harriet's coop/run was not totally secure and the baby chicks may have gotten out. So now I am thinking the general population of hens attacked these 2 chicks. I immediately put Harriet and the remaining 2 chicks back in their coop and locked it so they were safe.

    Now there was a 5th egg was starting to hatch on this day. I could see it had poked a tiny hole in the shell. That evening I saw Goldie sit back on the eggs. So I thought in the morning I would go check on it. The first newborns after they were hatched were safe under their mother.

    This morning I went to check on the egg, and I could see the remains of the shell, but NO chick?! And goldie was not sitting on her eggs. So once again the hens had snatched this newborn and devoured it.

    But wait, the story gets even stranger. I have had a problem with rats everywhere. And so I have been setting traps and I would kill 1 rat per day. So today I checked the rat trap and I had noticed it was about 5 feet away from where I set it. When I turn it over, there was still a live rat (looked juvenile). The trap had caught it's leg so it was still fully alive but stuck.

    The next thing I know, several hens (these are Cuckoo Marans) grab the rat, and they start fighting for it like they want to eat it. Each hen would grab and peck like mad at the rat and this went on for 10 seconds or so. I finally chased down the hen that had the rat and the hen dropped the live rat. I did not want my hens eating rats (who knows what diseases they carry). The rat dragged itself slowly with its 2 front legs under a large rock.

    So in summary, during a 2 day period, 2 chicks were killed, One chick was severely wounded/scalped, and one rat was almost devoured.

    Is this normal for chickens to crave so much meat and carnage? They have plenty of food so its not like they are starving! I hope the wounded one can make it, but it makes things more difficult now because I don't trust the hens to be around the young chicks. The Americaunas are very sweet birds and did not partake in this meat-fest. But the Cuckoo Marans seemed to be in the middle of all this.

  2. Hanh3197

    Hanh3197 Chirping

    Jun 9, 2011
    Bay Area
    I'm so sorry about what happened to the chicks [​IMG] ....poor babies [​IMG]
    Chickens are just like that [​IMG] They eat ANYTHING! Even chicks are known to be cannibalistic [​IMG]
    Be very careful with the surviving chicks. Good Luck! [​IMG]

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