Question about hens killing chicks?

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by dsqard, Jul 10, 2010.

  1. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

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    I am really new to the chicken addiction so I have been spending hours on this forum reading many different types of threads. Some day I would like to either hatch some chicks using an incubator or if I was lucky enough to have a hen go broody, have her hatch the chicks out. I am a long way from being ready for that (9 week old chicks and no rooster, well supposedly no rooster and from what I see probably no rooster LOL) but one thing I have seen on more than one post about broody hens is that the hen has killed some of the newly hatched chicks. I was wondering if anyone has any ideas why a hen would do this especially if the chicks are healthy? Are there certain breeds that are more likely to do this and others that are less likely? Is it more on a hen by hen basis? Do you just have to watch every new mother hen to see if she will do this? Can you trust a hen that has sucessfully raised a brood before? I would like to avoid a trajedy if I ever get to the point of having a broody hen with viable eggs under her.
    Thank you so much for any information you could give me and I have to say this is such a great website. So many people willing to help total strangers. [​IMG]
     
  2. MiniBeesKnees

    MiniBeesKnees Chillin' With My Peeps

    Speaking only for myself...that is something I don't worry about at all. Of all the broody hens I've ever had, not one ever killed, or hurt one of their own chicks. Not one ever sat on the nest without getting off to eat and starved itself to death or illness either.
     
  3. Bunnylady

    Bunnylady POOF Goes the Pooka

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    I suspect it's an individual thing, as I have never had a broody kill her chicks (that I know of). I have lost a lot of chicks over the years, but I really think it was the other chickens doing it. I have had known egg-eaters in my flock, and I think chick killing is pretty much an extension of that sort of behavior.

    There are some breeds of chicken that are well known as good mothers. Most of my experience has been with Silkies and bantam Cochins, which are some of the greatest broodies known to man! I do have a few hens around that are of breeds that seldom if ever go broody, so there are plenty of "suspects" around if a chick does meet an unfortunate end. As these birds free-range, they eat bugs, lizards, frogs, mice; basically anything they can catch. I joke that "omnivore" means, "eats anything that doesn't try to eat it," that certainly seems to be how chickens operate. My theory is that brooding is a physiological condition, one can't be sure that the hen will recognise that little fuzzy thing as her baby when it hatches.

    On the "up" side, I have 4 bantam Cochin and Cochin crosses that just finished a brooding marathon for me. They are all happily supervising at least 2 chicks apiece in individual cages. Yesterday, we gave them some watermelon as a treat. I have many times seen hens scratch and cluck to call their chicks over to eat feed, but I'd never seen them with watermelon before. Watching those hens picking off bits of watermelon and offering it to their chicks was so sweet! What good mommas they are!
     
  4. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

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    Thank you for the information so far! [​IMG] Could you have a bantam size hen brood large fowl eggs? If you could, how many eggs would you put under her?
     

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