Ummm...now what???

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by chicknmania, May 29, 2010.

  1. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    OK, this has never happened in all the hatches we've experienced; have some ideas but just curious what others think. We have two hens co- mothering a big clutch of eggs. They are using a trash can which is actually now a nest box and contains only clean straw, they prefer it to standard nest boxes but makes it difficult to see what's going on. Anyway, the chicks are due tomorrow, but I heard faint peeping this morning. No chicks, but figured some were hatching a day early. There are some that seem to be hatching one at a time over a period of hours. Checked on the hens a bit later and saw one chick, but left it with the hens as no more had hatched. No more have hatched all day, and the peeping has stopped and the one chick has dissapeared. I'm assuming it's under the hens, but I haven['t picked them up yet to see, I just have been reluctant to bother them. I went out there just now and there was another chick, dead. I believe the hens might've killed it, they are both new moms, but it is also very hot today, 90,s, so maybe it died of heat? The hens are still setting on the remaining eggs. Just not sure what to do, I'm inclined to just leave them til tomorrow to see if the majority of them hatch, as usually a bunch will hatch more or less at once and tomorrow is the actual due date. Have never had the hens kill them before. Will they kill them all or is it possible that these chicks hatching are premature and unthrifty and the hen just decides they're not going to make it anyway. I don't want the hens to kill them all, but not sure that they will. Any thoughts?
     
  2. TurkeyMountainChickens

    TurkeyMountainChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmm. Some first time mom hens will kill chicks. Could be intentional or accidental.

    Given that you're supposed to brood chicks at 95 degrees, I wouldn't think that the little one died from heat. It could have been another natural cause, though.

    I'd be inclined to leave the eggs with the hens for now, but keep a close eye on them tomorrow. If you see them acting odd around the babies, you can always take them and brood them yourselves before they get killed.

    Good luck!
     
  3. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Thank you. I read somewhere that they will sometimes kill weak ones, ones that hatch early, or kill them if they are sitting on too many eggs, which ours probably are. Thanks for the advice, I will follow it and see what happens.
     
  4. carolina chicky

    carolina chicky Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well...the same thing happened to me a few weeks ago. I had 2 hens sitting on 16 eggs total. They hatched like yours, one at a time. The mothers tried to kill the babies and succeded with one. All I can tell you is that I took each baby out as soon as it hatched or as soon as I found it.
    I think if 2 moms are sitting and one hatches, the other mom may try to kill it. That is what I heard. I eventually moved one mom to a different location and I didn't have anymore problems.
    The first 5 babies were all picked very badly and looked horrible but I managed to save them by taking them away as soon as possible. I wanted to keep them with mom but some moms just don't do a great job.
    In the end the hen who I moved and gave the eggs to hatched 2 more babies before abandoning the last 5 eggs underneath her, one of which was piping. I took them all and managed to hatch the piping egg but lost the last ones.
    There is probably no easy way to handle this problem but I suggest watching the hens very closely and maybe taking the babies as soon as you can to put under a heat lamp. Some of the ones we took were still attached to the egg and the moms were already starting to pick and try and kill the babies.
    Sorry you have to put up with this, it is so much easier when the moms do their job right!!
     
  5. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Great. Well, that's how we learn I guess. We had two hens co-mother a few years ago. In that case between them they hatched one chick and then abandoned the rest of the eggs and took the chick with them. We put them in a safe pen and then they were fighting over who would mother the baby, so we eventually let the losing hen out. Who was probably the chick's real mother. [​IMG]
     
  6. SeaHen

    SeaHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    All I can tell you is that when I've allowed hens to brood next to each other the chicks have died or disappeared. The same thing happened when one hen pushed another off her hatching eggs to lay her own egg in the nest. I think (in my case) they've killed one anothers' babies rather than their own. We've never had such a thing happen when each mom has had her own safe space, so I personally don't support the co-mothering concept anymore.
     
  7. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    This morning we separated the two hens and put each in her own pen. WE had to, as the chick hatched yesterday is still alive and at this point may be starting to think about food and water. So we put that baby with Izzy Lou, gave Tarbaby a hatching egg, and each hen got her own pile of unhatched eggs, plus we kept a pile separate and put it in a warm pen. Both hens are setting on the remaining unhatched eggs, and Tarbaby is clucking encouragingly to the hatching egg. So maybe we saved a bad situation, we'll see. [​IMG]
     
  8. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    btw, our electric meter reader told me his two hens co-mothered, hatched, and are raising their babies together. I think it just depends on the hens?
     
  9. lemurchaser

    lemurchaser Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I'm confused. So chickens are separated, each with a pile of eggs (on of them has the chick too), but there is a pile somewhere else too?
     
  10. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Yes, we put a pile in a warm pen. There were just too many eggs, even split up, for one hen to handle, we thought. So, we took the warm ones, the ones probably most likely to hatch, and those are the ones we gave to the hens. The cooler ones on the outside are the ones we kept separate. For a few reasons.....one, they probably won't hatch....two they might, and if they do the hens wont kill them, and three, they are just extras. and we don't have an incubator. But, incubation is really up anyway, so they should hatch even if they don't have additional incubation, shouldn't they? Or should they?
     

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