Why would a hen attack her own chicks?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chickenpiedpiper, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. chickenpiedpiper

    chickenpiedpiper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 4, 2008
    New Durham NH
    Ok, the winter broody hen saga continues... (heavy sigh) After finally hatching the eggs around new years, and living in the house until I couldnt stand it, the hen and her three chicks were moved out to the coop in a nice roomy cage of thier own. They are now around 5-6 weeks old, and at that hairy ugly stage. One cochin chick, one buff silky chick, and one black fizzle chick. (no relation to each other, all fertile eggs stuck under the broody.) Well now I have had to boot the hen out of the cage, cause she is attacking the silky and the frizzle!

    What gives? I have let her out every day that she has wanted to, to roam and feed, and then when she wanted, back in she went, and she was being such a good mommy! but now she chases them around the cage and they are screaming! So I toss her out, and she ignores them, but at night she roosts on top of the cage like she wants to be near them, so I put her in, and she starts up again!

    The few times the chicks have been down on the floor with the rest of the big birds, there has been too much predatory interest for my peace of mind, they are too small and squeaky still. And now thier mom doesnt even show a smidge of concern when the other hens go after the chicks. At what point does she 'wean' them? This seems awfully early to me, they are still partly downy!

    Any input?

    I tell you what, I will never let a hen raise chicks again. I will do it myself, or not at all! Sheesh!
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  2. rockabilly7

    rockabilly7 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 30, 2008
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    Maybe the environment change confused her. I know when i moved my chickens from their old run to a new one they all kind of picked on each other a little more. the same thing happens when you move cats into a new environment they treat their siblings, friends, or young ones like they are strangers. But im not sure its just a guess.
     
  3. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Maybe you should remove the chicks before the "mom" or others hurt them.
    Imp
     
  4. chickenpiedpiper

    chickenpiedpiper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh! sorry, my bad, I should have put the time frame in there!

    When the chicks were a couple weeks old, I moved the whole cage out to the coop. I couldnt stand her leading them all over the house. At first she kept them on the linoleum, and that was tolerable, but once they started hoping over the barricades, well you can imagine the mess! Out they went!

    They have been out for at least 3 weeks, with her getting out every day for a couple hours, and I dont let them out much but they sit in the open door and watch. I can tell when one has fallen out, I have a baby monitor, and I can hear the changes, and when one gets panicky I go out and put it back. They see me coming and run over to me pretty quick.

    This attacking thing has just been in the last few days. and it seems targeted at the silkie and the frizzle only......

    Wierd.
     
  5. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    She has lost her desire to be a mother and her normal hormones are kicking in. This usually happens around 6 - 8 weeks but I've had a broody act like that around 5 weeks. I'd just keep the babies in the cage and leave her out now. I think she wants in because she's used to being in the cage and would possibly keep them warm at night but will want nothing to do with them otherwise. Can you shine a heat lamp on them or bring them back in the house? They're a little too young not to have any heat at all.

    Just as an aside, I had a broody reject her 2 babies at about 6 weeks of age and my glw hen started to call them to her. She wasn't even broody!! Anyway, after a little while, they would come when she called and she kept them under her wings until they were too big to get under. It was sooo sweet.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  6. chickenpiedpiper

    chickenpiedpiper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:as I stated, I booted her out. now the chicks are alone in the cage.

    Has anyone ever had a mom turn on her chicks at this age? could she just be feeling overwhelmed? (what mom of three stuck in a house wouldnt?)

    She has started laying again. Is she done being a mom? Should I bring the chicks in the house... (dont like that idea much) or let em stay out in the coop but seperated in the cage till they are bigger?
     
  7. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    I think we cross-posted. LOL
     
  8. chickenpiedpiper

    chickenpiedpiper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Thank you. Thats what I was afraid of. Yes, the cage is kind of an open brooder, with a heat light at one end, and set in a corner on a shelf, so they can self regulate thier temp. They have thier own food and water.

    I think I will leave her out now. It is too distressing to me to hear them scream when she pulls thier feathers out, and they cant get away from her! I just didnt realize that such a persistant broody hen would 'unbroodify' so quickly! Wow!

    I have always raised my own chicks, and they are 'babies' in my eyes until they crow or lay! Guess I would be a silkie if I were a hen huh?
     
  9. chickenpiedpiper

    chickenpiedpiper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:hmmm, I have two goofy broody hens that have been sitting on stone eggs for at least a month..... I wonder if they would 'step up'? wouldnt that be nice!

    Yeah, it is definetly too early for them to be without the heat. The bulb blew last night, and by the time I got a new one out there this morning, the frizzle was shivering! Poor things, I know thier feathers dont work well to keep heat in, so I always make sure I have extra bulbs on hand. He moved right under the light.

    Thanks for the insight!
     
  10. Hoot

    Hoot Out Of The Brooder

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    Canaveral Groves, FL.
    [​IMG]

    Do you have children?
     

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