Taking care of broody hens is different than taking care of non-broody hens.
Broody hens are antisocial, they will stay in their nest boxes all day and only leave to eat and drink. Broody hens will also act aggressively and may even peck at chicks, this article looks at why this happens and what to do.
Broody hen pecking chicks:
“Going broody” describes the scenario where hens sit on eggs in an effort to hatch them. A hen will do this because she wants to be a mother.
Your bird’s personality will change for the worst once broody. Here is why broody hens peck chicks:
Motherhood brings out good and bad qualities in chickens, one bad quality that motherhood brings out in chickens is aggression. Broody hens are birds who are about to be mothers.
The bird’s instincts to keep her eggs protected will kick in when she becomes broody, broodiness makes hens aggressive towards anything that may seem like a threat, including chicks.
If a curious chick gets too close to a broody hen, then the broody hen may peck at the chick to get it away
What to do:
If your mother hen is attacking everything in sight, including chicks, then you’d need to keep the chicks away from this bird.
Keep the bird in its own nest box and create a barrier to discourage chicks from getting to the hen.
If the pecked chick is injured, then you’d need to isolate it and give it food, water, and time to heal.
If one of your hens go broody then the other hens may go broody as well. This can work, but this can sometimes spell disaster as one hen may despise another hen’s chicks and peck them.
Some birds will only raise chicks who are their offspring, these birds know what their offspring should look like and will peck at, and even kill, other chicks.
What to do:
If your hens had previously been broody together, and they suddenly become aggressive towards each other’s chicks, then you’d need to separate the hens and keep each hen in its own nest box with its own eggs.
Create a barrier between the two families making sure that the chicks can’t get into the other nest box.
It may be easier to move a hen that already has chicks than to move a hen that is still sitting on her eggs.
Something is wrong with the chick:
Chicks don’t always come out healthy, if a mother hen broods eggs, and only realizes that there is something wrong with a baby bird once the bird hatches, then she may peck at it and even kill it.
This scenario doesn’t always happen, as the mother hen will usually break the eggs if she realizes that there is something wrong with the chick in the egg, but if she doesn’t realize that there is an issue before the chick hatches, then she will peck the baby bird after birth
What to do:
If the pecked chick is still alive after the pecking then you’d need to isolate the bird and give it time to heal. Give the bird food and water as it heals.
If the bird was pecked because something is wrong with it then you may need to pay special attention to the bird as it grows and you may need to help it along in life. You can alternatively let nature take its course.
A bad mother:
Motherhood, especially new motherhood can be nerve-wracking for anyone, chickens included. If your hen is a new mother then she may simply not know what to do once her baby birds hatch and may peck at the chicks.
The mother may brood the eggs very well but lose the plot once the chicks hatch. Sometimes mother hens will love eggs and hate chicks causing her to peck at the chicks.
The mother may continue this bad behavior with the next clutch and do this for the whole of her life, or, she may grow out of this bad habit and her maternal instincts may kick in allowing her to raise chicks properly.
Chick pecking can also happen if the chicks have not been brooded for the right amount of time
What to do:
If you find a pecked baby bird in a nest quickly take the baby out of the nest and isolate it. Give it food and water and allow it to heal.
If the hen is still brooding eggs then you’d need to remove the eggs to keep the hen from pecking at the chicks once they hatch. The hen will likely make a fuss when you do this, if she does, replace her eggs with fake eggs.
The hen will brood these fake eggs and will eventually get tired and give up when she realizes that the eggs aren’t hatching.
If she doesn’t get tired, and continues to brood the fake eggs for weeks on end, then you’d need to break her out of her broody state.
If a chicken is left to be broody for too long then its health will start to deteriorate.
If she continues to peck at her chicks over and over then you’d need to break her of her broodiness the next time she goes broody to keep her from hatching chicks. You may also need to give her eggs to a hen who is a good mother
She may continue this bad behavior for the rest of her life or, her motherly instincts may kick in and enable her to take care of the chicks normally, only time will tell
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 Rejecting Chicks, Broody Hen Attacking Chicks, Can Chickens Drink Salt Water?, Broody Hen With A Pale Comb, Broody Hen Eating Eggs