Taking care of broody hens can be a little stressful to say the least, these birds will become aggressive and attack you if you get too close to them. They can also become aggressive towards their other flock members attacking adult birds and even chicks.
If your broody hen is attacking chicks, and you want to know why and what to do, this article is for you
Broody hen attacking chicks:
A broody hen may attack chicks for a number of reasons, here are reasons why this may be happening:
To protect the eggs:
Mothers in the animal kingdom are usually much more aggressive than female animals who are not mothers.
This newfound aggression helps to keep the babies safe from potential predators. The added aggression also keeps predators away from the mother allowing her to live long enough to raise her young.
Unfortunately, this aggression is not only directed towards predators, it can be directed towards anything, including towards chicks.
We know that chicks can’t harm adult birds but broody hens don’t know this. Broody hens will attack curious baby chicks who get too close.
What to do:
If your curious chicks are getting too close to your broody hen, and the broody hen is attacking the chicks, then you’d need to create a barrier between the two. Isolate the broody hen and her eggs from the rest of the flock.
A bad mother:
Some chickens will be wonderful broody hens but be bad mothers. A mother hen can sometimes love her eggs but hate her chicks. A mother hen who hates her own chicks may attack and peck them.
This scenario can, and usually does, happen if the mother hen is new to being a mother and doesn’t know how to take care of chicks.
A hen attacking chicks can also happen if the hen hasn’t been broody for the right amount of time, if this is the case then she will not accept her own chicks.
This may or may not improve over time or the mother may be this way for the rest of her life
What to do:
If you notice that a bird successfully brooded a clutch of eggs but attacks her newly hatched chicks then you’d need to separate the mother bird and the baby chicks.
Incubate any leftover eggs in an incubator to keep the mother hen from hatching the eggs and then pecking the baby birds once hatched. Place the newly hatched chicks in a brooder after they’ve hatched.
If the mother makes a fuss when you take her eggs away, switch her eggs with some fake eggs. She will sit on the fake eggs, get bored, and then stop being broody.
If she doesn’t get bored and move on then you’ll have to break her out of her broodiness
If you realize that the mother hen keeps rejecting her chicks and attacks them then you’d need to break her broodiness the next time she goes broody to save the chicks.
Broodiness is contagious, if one bird goes broody then this increases the likelihood of other birds in the coop going broody.
Multiple broody hens in a coop may sometimes work but in some cases, one of the broody hens will attack the newly hatched chicks of another broody hen, this broody hen may even kill the chicks.
Some hens will simply not tolerate another hen’s chicks.
What to do:
If this is what’s happening with your birds then you’d need to separate the two hens and make sure that the chicks are kept with their mothers.
Keep the birds in their own nest boxes and try to create a barrier between the two families so that one hen’s chicks do not wander into another bird’s nest box and get attacked.
Something wrong with the baby:
Mother hens want their babies to live, be healthy and survive. If the mother realizes that there is something wrong with a baby bird then she may attack and kill the baby bird.
The mother usually realizes that something is wrong with the chick while the chick is still in the egg, if she realizes this early enough then she will break the egg.
But this realization may only happen after hatching causing her to attack the chick after the baby hatches.
What to do:
If the baby is already dead then there isn’t anything you can do, but if the baby is injured, then you can isolate it, and offer it food, water, and medication if medication is needed for its injuries. Isolate the bird until it gets better.
If the baby has something wrong with it, to a point where it can’t survive on its own, then you’d have to choose between taking care of it and paying close attention to it all throughout its life, or letting nature take its course.
If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other chicken related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Broody Hen Pecking Chicks, Broody Hen Rejecting Chicks, Can Chickens Drink Salt Water?, Broody Hen With A Pale Comb, Broody Hen Eating Eggs