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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:10 pm 
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Gallant Game
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After a miracle hatch my broody has decided to eat the wing feathers of her chicks. They are only a couple of days old and it seems that she doesn't like the new feathers on the little one's wings. It started with her plucking the new feathers out but that led to blood and then they all wanted to eat each other alive. Lucky I was home and heard the chirping as the whole thing went downhill very fast.

I sprayed them with Tru Blue and put them back but she still went for the feathers. It was only directed at the chicks with visible feathers starting on their wings. The ones that are still just fuzz were OK.

I have removed them all as, sooner or later, they will start to sprout feathers. I've got them in a brooder and the blue colour seems to have stopped the chicks pecking at each other.

My broody has been a mum several times before so I don't know what to make of this new behaviour. Should I trust her again? Not with these ones but, ever?

Edit: Less than a day later and she is sitting on the nest looking completely broody again and not missing the chicks at all. This is her usual look. She abandoned (without attacking) her other sets of babies at about 4 weeks to sit again. Perhaps I should consider her as an "incubator" rather than a "brooder"?

Another question: I have a broody that has never hatched or raised chicks. She has only been sitting for about one week. Would it be worth trying to introduce the chicks to her? They seem to do so much better when they are raised by a hen.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:28 pm 
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Assist Admin
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You could see if the new clucky is willing to accept the chicks. It really is impossible to accurately predict what a broody, even the ones whose past behaviour you know, will do. If you do try the introduction please be on hand at first light just in case. I've witnessed apparent acceptances that turned bad as the mother suddenly turned on babies. I reckon it is worth a try, but only if you are in a position to closely supervise them in daylight hours. Good luck and let us know how you go. :-)

A steady stream of clucky hens here at the moment, some trying to feed imaginary chicks. :-P


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:07 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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I think your options are to try this new broody or just hand raise the chicks. I definitely wouldn't put them back with the feather picking mother.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:14 pm 
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Gallant Game
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I decided to cut my losses and hand raise this lot. I tried to relocate the new broody to the private suite but she wasn't having any of it. I think they are too old now so they will remain in the brooder.

I don't really have much experience with broodies. The couple of times it has happened have been really cute and not much trouble. The chicks also seem stronger and better developed (if somewhat less tame) than the ones I have fussed over in the brooder. Maybe my imagination but they don't even seem as susceptible to coccidiosis as the hand raised ones.

Just for future reference, a broody may be a good mum to one lot of chicks then bad to another lot? Or a bad mum may be good with the next lot?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 5:59 am 
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Golden Kingfisher
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Personally I wouldn't use a bad Mum again. Or else I'd just get this hen to hatch the eggs and then take the chicks away as soon as the hatch is done.

I had a hen hatch and raise some ducklings for me last year and when their wing feathers started coming through (round 4/5 weeks) she started pecking these feathers off. There is quite a blood supply to these feathers so there is a real risk of excessive blood loss, not to mention wing damage. I took the ducklings away immediately. I'll use her again to hatch ducklings but will remove the ducklings much earlier.

Hens do a better job than we can with an incubator so it's good if you can use a broody, even just up until the hatch.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 8:16 am 
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Gallant Game
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I must admit I'd be nervous letting her be a mum again. Shame because she is perpetually broody & not good for much else. I might let someone else try next time (they can't really do worse than try & kill the babies). Some tend to go broody more often than others but none consistently like Rose so I'll have to work in with the whims of the hens if she is no longer an option. To be fair, I don't actually need more chooks anyway :oops:

Interesting that your hen also tried to remove the wing feathers when they came through. I didn't know that was a "thing". Stupid birds, what do they think?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2016 7:32 pm 
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Golden Kingfisher
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Yeah, I know! It's not a sensible strategy to nibble on the kids....

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