Monday, March 5, 2012

Absolutely Sick...

I am sick to my stomach. I got home from work today and went out to feed the chickens and put them up for the night. As I walk out the chickens run to greet me as they always do, looking forward to food scraps from the kitchen bucket, and some scratch to be strewn upon the ground. Innocent and simple.

Until I walk into the chicken barn and notice that BO is not on her nest and there are only 10 eggs! There is a broken shell and I am looking for mom and some baby chicks. She is out and about without a care in the world. Oh my gosh! What I see next sinks my heart. One of my chickens is running around with a dead baby chick in it's beak with 2 others chasing her trying to steal her catch. I don't know what has happened over the course of the day. I left this morning with mom on her clutch, carefully turning eggs as I fed this morning. Now, half are gone without a trace. Just one eggshell and one dead chick. I don't know if the rest hatched and the other chickens attacked the chicks and mom couldn't keep the others at bay as she tried to defend her little ones. We have never had our hens attack baby chicks and have always had more worries about skunks eating them than anything else.

I am just sick. I came inside to cool down and call DH. I went back out a short while later to see if mom had gotten back on the nest. What I saw made me even madder! One of the chickens was pecking at an egg! I don't know if that is how they all met their demise, from being pecked out to open the shell and then a meal for a mean, nasty hen. Oh,  how nature can be so cruel. I gathered all the rest of the eggs and I just got them in our incubator and have it in the living room. I don't know if anything will come of it, but I can't just let life slip by. They are our chickens and I will try my best to save them.

11 comments:

  1. well at least you know there in fact were some baby chicks..when i was a very small child we lived in a rented cottage located on a large farm that raised chickens and ducks...and they sometimes could be pretty mean to each other and to the nests of others. do you "clip" your chickens beaks when they are little so that they dont attack others? i understand this is a common practice that works pretty well. you may have to build a nested cage or something for the mother hens to use while sitting on her eggs and protect her and her chicks... i think that i would contact a hatchery or nearby farm that raises chickens and seek some possible answers and solutions of what to do. well, i hope that the remaining eggs will produce a chick or two at least... i think that i would be planning on putting a few chickens in the freezer for what they did.

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    1. I think you may be right about building a nested cage to keep her and the chicks protected. No luck on the eggs in the incubator this morning :(

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  2. So sorry. Good luck.

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  3. :-( Chickens are cruel creatures sometimes. If your BO decides to set again, place her & her eggs separated from the rest of the chickens. We kept our broody with her goose & duck egg in a small metal dog crate in the coop because the other hens would chase her off the nest and we were afraid that they'd disrupt her too much that she'd either abandon the eggs or they'd break them with all their jostling around. I'm sorry for your loss & hope you can get the other eggs to hatch.

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    1. Yes, I think we will build a nested cage and maybe even just move her into the adjacent pen. We call it the sick pen, but we usually raise hatchery chicks in there. Still waiting on the eggs in the incubator.

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  4. Same thing happen to us last week. I thought the hen had caught a mouse and was running with it until I walked over to her. I usually incubate all my eggs but if a hen wants to go broody then I will use her to help out.
    One thing I do to keep it from happening is when the chick hatches I take it and put it in the brooder. I guess last week one hatched sooner than I had figured.

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    1. MDR,
      Unfortunately I wasn't there when they hatched. We are rethinking how to approach this in the future since we have cannibals for chickens. We've never had this happen before, but this is a new batch of chickens born last April. If your hen goes broody, do you let her set for say 2 weeks, and then put the eggs in the incubator until they hatch?

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  5. Rose - No we let them set. When our hens goes broody then we load them up with eggs and mark the calendar. Some even hatch out geese eggs for us. On day 19 we will start checking about three times a day. Once one is hatched then we put it in the brooder with similar age chicks. We hatch year around so finding a warm spot is not all that hard. Last week I guess we were off a couple days on when she started setting. I have raised and sold a lot of chicks using them as a natural incubator. Most of the time I get a better hatch rate from the mommas than the fancy incubators.

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  6. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)March 6, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    So sorry to hear about the chicks - Chickens do eat meat. Last year I had to take the newborns from my broody hen and bring them inside to a brooder box. My Rhode Island Reds would attack them in the nesting boxes and my banty hen was just too small to defend them. When the babies were older I gave them to one of our local farmers because of all the fights. I kept one rooster from the batch and he now keeps the Red's in line. RIR's can be territorial and very tame or very ornery. I have each type. Try again - there is nothing like cute baby chicks running around!

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    1. Thanks, Phyllis. We are hopeful that she will try again and we will probably separate her from the others. Or, if not, we may collect eggs and incubate them ourselves. I agree, there's nothing like cute baby chicks running around!

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Your thoughts are welcome!