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 Post subject: Hens killing chickens
PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:15 am 
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Hi guys,

Recently we had a loan of a Plymouth rooster and put him over our girls (we have 3 RIR and 3 PR girls).

The idea is to build up a little flock and then when my son is older (and any future kids) he can breed and sell some chickens and eggs for pocket money.

Problem is that we have two laying boxes but the hens almost exclusively use one. We had a rhode island girl go clucky almost instantly, and then a couple of weeks later a plymouth girl. As of yesterday another rhode island is sitting.

What i did was to collect 3/4 eggs for the incubator and leave the rest under the hens to hatch and break their cluckiness.

Problem is that all three are sitting on the same nest (comfortably sits 1 hen) and yesterday when i went down i heard a chick chirping. I then noticed that one of the RIR girls was pecking at the ender belly of another hens. I'm not sure if she was trying to either kill the competition or steal the chick but the little fella had a quite bald and red head. I assume it was from the hen so i removed it and placed it in with our incubated chicks. It's still not looking great and hangs out by itself.

Wondering if i should remove the remaining eggs or just leave them under the chooks? Is there anyway i can stop one or two of the hens from being clucky? I've tried moving them with a couple of fertile eggs but they end up leaving them to go back to the original box every time.

Appreciate any help, i do seem to have trouble getting logged out of this forum and not being able to get back in. But I'll keep trying because I'd really like to know how to fix all this.

Thank you

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:32 pm 
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If you are not able to house the hen and chicks in a separate area that the other hens cannot get to then I would take away any eggs and put them in the incubator and take away any other hatched chicks and hand raise them along with your incubator hatched ones. You definitely did the right thing by taking away that chick that had been pecked.

If you are going to move hens to another nest then they need to be physically prevented from going back to the original nest e.g. with fencing or by putting them in a separate coop entirely.

I sometimes use broodies to hatch eggs too and this is what I do: I have a separate coop that I will put one hen into when she is broody. Once she's sitting tight on the nest in there I will put eggs under her. She can hatch her eggs in peace without any other eggs being laid in the nest and without the risk of other hens harming the chicks (or ducklings in my case!). So, I would recommend that you use a similar set up in future as it saves a lot of grief and hassle. Since you have an incubator you could choose to hatch in the incubator and then put the day old chicks under the broody or do half in the incubator and half under the hen (then give the incubator hatched ones to the hen).

You certainly can stop a hen being broody. Basically you want to get them out of their comfort zone and you have to prevent them from getting to the nest. I do this by taking the hen off the nest and putting her in a dog crate or rabbit hutch in the main coop, with no nesting material at all, just the wire floor resting on the ground (and with food and water of course). The more open the broody cage is the better - so, no dark enclosed areas (if I use a rabbit hutch I block off the enclosed end with empty buckets or whatever is lying around). Another option that has worked well for small hens is putting the hen in a cat carrier inside the house (human house). That throws them right off their game. Once the chook is no longer interested in sitting, is standing up all the time, is trying to get up onto a perch to sleep and is no longer making that broody clucking noise then it's safe to let her out of the broody cage.

Hope that helps!

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:33 pm 
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ps. when I say dog crate I mean wire/metal mesh dog crate, with no solid walls or roof.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 4:23 pm 
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Thank you I'm definitely going to give this a try!

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:35 pm 
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Update on this,

I hatched out some chicks and put one each under the two broodiest hens (the third has stopped). They've been fine up until today when my wife went down to them and saw the plymouth hen pecking at the rhode island's chick. She picked it up and it has no skin left on its back so I'd say it'll die. As soon as my wife entered the pen the plymouth came up and started aggressively pecking at her too so she's not in a good mood for some reason. Her chick is fine though.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:36 pm 
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You are going to need to separate each hen with her chicks so that no other hens can get to them, including any other hen with chicks. Each hen needs to be in her own separate area.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 10:53 am 
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[quote="Gramps_grower"] ….The idea is to build up a little flock and then when my son is older .. he can breed and sell some chickens ….

If you are breeding even only a few chickens you need spare pens to avoid the distress of regular losses of eggs or chicks or even hens when aggression goes wrong with community nesting, and it always does sooner or later. Your son will also need a grower pen or two for chicks over 6-8 weeks old, they can't be run on safely with older birds. And the 'broody with chicks' pen will be needed for the next broody. It doesn't mean keeping more chooks, just having some control and saving your sanity while they grow out to sell at point of lay for those not already sold as day-old chicks or off heat but unsexed.

He'll also need the extra pen or two if he wants to breed purebreds (easier to sell for a better price) than crossbreds from a mixed pen which are less sought after.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:26 pm 
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PossumCorner wrote:
Gramps_grower wrote:
….The idea is to build up a little flock and then when my son is older .. he can breed and sell some chickens ….

If you are breeding even only a few chickens you need spare pens to avoid the distress of regular losses of eggs or chicks or even hens when aggression goes wrong with community nesting, and it always does sooner or later. Your son will also need a grower pen or two for chicks over 6-8 weeks old, they can't be run on safely with older birds. And the 'broody with chicks' pen will be needed for the next broody. It doesn't mean keeping more chooks, just having some control and saving your sanity while they grow out to sell at point of lay for those not already sold as day-old chicks or off heat but unsexed.

He'll also need the extra pen or two if he wants to breed purebreds (easier to sell for a better price) than crossbreds from a mixed pen which are less sought after.
I was chatting with my brother about this just last night. Space isn't too much of an issue. The current setup can be easily reworked. I'll put in a partition when i take the chicks outside until they've grown out.

The plymouth is a bugger to everyone at the moment. I went down at lunch to change their water and was near the chick. She pecked me then reared up and tried to claw at me. I had to kick dirt at her to get her to back off. The rhode island on the other hand was placid enough to let me pick her chick up without being phased before it died.

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