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Hen killed chickens

Irish Hen Member
edited August 2009 in Poultry Health and Welfare
Why do hens kill their little hatchlings ?
Our young Old English Game had 3 call duck eggs under her and over the weekend 2 hatched out only to our horror discover that she has killed them both this morning, was this because they were duckling or that she is a young hen and is she likely to do this again ?

Comments

  • blonde Senior Member
    edited April 2009
    Hens dont generally kill their chickens, they protect them from anything else that will. But cockerals will kill chickens. When you have a chicken sitting on eggs you should have it sitting on its own out of reach of the cockerals. Also the wire should be fine to stop the chickens poking their heads through as they cockerals will pull the heads off the chickens. It is a very cruel situation, but it is important to house them so no harm comes to them.
  • Irish Hen Member
    edited April 2009
    Hi thanks for reply, the hen definately did kill the ducklin as she was isloated in a shed on her own so it could only have been her, I was wondering was it because it was a duck ?
  • crazychick Senior Member
    edited April 2009
    Hens instinctively try to keep their chicks under them for at least 24 hours after hatching and will aggressively peck at them if they try to wander out from underneath the protection of the feathers. Obviously, if the chicks were to wander out, they might very well get taken by a predator or die from the cold. Chicks have no need for food or water for 24-36 hours after hatching, so it is normal for them to want to stay under the hen for that length of time. Some hens, unfortunately, are more aggressive than others at pecking the chicks, in an attempt to keep them underneath their feathers. I have a silkie cross hen who would be a great mum, but she's so fiercely protective that she'll aggressively peck her chicks and will kill them (unless I remove them, which I did the one time I allowed her to set).

    Ducklings don't necessarily understand the "24 hour rule" and may try to muscle their way out from under then hen as soon as they are strong enough. THis might frustrate the hen and she would start pecking at them to keep them under her. In the end, she might kill them, although it is not her intent to kill them - only protect them.

    As for using this hen to hatch more chicks or ducklings? I'd exercise caution. If she is truly that over-protective and fierce, she may do the same thing all over again...

    Laura
  • Corn Lady Junior Member
    edited August 2009
    Hi, I'm a first time user and need a little help. I've raised buff orphingtons from chicks; they are over 4 years old now. I have one Americana, Whitey. Whitey is the only one still laying eggs. Ruby (buff) has been setting on Whitey's eggs and yesterday I found a new baby chick which she had pecked terribly. I removed it but need to know should I remove the rest of the eggs and if so how do I "hatch" the others. I have 2 baby chicks (buffs) 6 weeks old which are the first ones to be born from this flock (we usually collected the eggs). These are doing fine with their "Little Mama".
  • prunio Junior Member
    edited August 2009
    We had exactly the same problem 6 weeks ago - I saw it happen. The first chick to hatch - first ever for me - broke out of the shell, the broody sitting looking on as I thought proudly. The little thing staggered to its feet - and she killed it. It was horrible to watch. I contacted an experienced poultry keeper, who told me to remove the killer broody and put another broody in because if the was that way inclined she would kill all the chicks - fortunately, as we keep pekins, we always have a surplus of broodies! The others hatched with their new pekin mummy and are now happy healthy and 6 weeks old. I do not believe that there was anything 'wrong' with the first chick - it seemed very strong.
  • Flopsy Member
    edited August 2009
    Having read the above posts I am now in a quandry. I have a broody who is currently hatching 8 chicks (I think maybe 3 or 4 are already out), I have left her completely alone during the incubation period as she had previously sat on eggs and only one of the chicks made it out of that batch - and that one ended up squashed underneath her the next day. I thought that she might have been stressed with all the comings and goings to the main henhouse (which is where she sat with the first batch). I built her a little house and run for the latest batch so that she would be left in peace. The chicks started hatching yesterday and I have just been out to let the girls out and open up the broody's house, I sat to watch for a little while and one of the chicks popped his head out and then came out from under her - she pulled him back under her quite viciously. Do I leave her to it? My instinct says yes, but I don't want to end up with more dead chicks. I don't have another hen that is broody so I can't take that route - any ideas or suggestions?
  • prunio Junior Member
    edited August 2009
    I may be wrong, but I dont think another broody would accept the chicks that have hatched, so I think you may have to let nature take its course - at least she sounds like she is protecting the chick - fingers crossed
  • crazychick Senior Member
    edited August 2009
    YOu might try darkening the area that she is setting in - it may lessen her "pecking" instinct. If she is still being so aggressive that she is hurting or even trying to kill the chicks, then it would be best to remove the chicks once they have hatched and let them strengthen on their own for a day - then you can even try slipping them back under the hen, but keep a watchful eye on her...

    Laura
  • Irish Hen Member
    edited August 2009
    I am happy to report that this hen has just hatched out 4 lovely chickens last week and there was no problem , last time she was still in the main hen house as she hatched and was moved when the ducklings came out,so the change of location could have been an issue, this time she was seperated from the start and there was no problems, hen and chickens all doing well :)
  • Gaream Senior Member
    edited August 2009
    Great news, Irish hen
    enjoy your new babies, Gail
  • Flopsy Member
    edited August 2009
    Hi guys - thanks for all the advice. I let her get on with it and she now has 7 chicks and is proving to be a really good mum - I did a daft thing though, she had left the nest with six of the chicks and I had a quick check to see if there was anything that needed removing from the nest and found what I thought was a dead chick. I took it out (it was stone cold) and it gave a little twitch, so I warmed it up and by the end of the day he was fairly 'with it' so I popped him back under his mum. Sadly he seems very weak so I'm guessing I should have just let nature take its course. Any advice on how to bring him on a bit would be gratefully received. His brothers and sisters are running about madly while he is just managing a wobbly walk. Time will tell. I have a strange feeling that I will end up with a cockerel in my house....
  • I have kept a broody hen to raise chicks on the egg should i leave him for eating after 2 days or every day
  • I like chicken wery mutch

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