Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 5:55 am Post subject: Female killing chicks :(
My female kaki has been mating succesfully with the make kaki in the same cage as her, she has laid eggs in her nest box, hatched them out, then killed them by biting their legs and wings off, sometimes biting their necks.
Anyone know why she does this? It could be that she was hand reared from the age of 2 weeks because her mother attacked her in the nest when she was 2 weeks old.
Her mood has changed also, she is not as friendly to us as before, she used to sit on our hands and play a lot, now she tries to bite us and is more aggressive.
Hand reared birds should not cause a problem when they mate and rear their own clutches. One of our original hand reared hens has a clutch of 8 babies at the moment and she is successfully rearing all of them. Even the smallest of the babies is looked after, with mum always feeding the smallest first.
When parents attack and kill their young it is usually caused by stress or fear. I would look for these type of problems first. Have you changed anything in or around the cage. Or even the room where the cage is kept. Are you feeding the parents enough food. Kakariki hens are known to be very protective towards their young and will only try to kill them if they believe the nest is threatened. Cock birds on the other hand can be a little more unpredictable and will sometimes turn aggressive if they want to mate again before the young chicks have fledged. That is why it is always best to have 2 nest boxes for breeding birds.
If we encounter problems like the one you have experienced the first step is to always remove the cock bird to see if that has any effect. They act as sentries for the nest and can sometimes send alarm signals to the hen that there is a danger present. By removing the cock bird in a majority of cases things quickly settle down and the hen will raise a clutch on her own without any problems. If the chicks are old enough and option one doesn't work we will next try removing the hen and watch that the cock bird takes over the feeding duties. If both of these fail the final step is to pull the young and hand rear them.
It is our experience that the problem is usually created by changes to the general area of a breeding pair. These little birds can be very easily upset by introducing new birds in adjoining aviaries and even changes to regular feed times will sometimes cause them to abandon their eggs and young ones. Kakariki seem to love routine and once they are in the breeding cycle my advice is to keep things as routine as possible to get the best results.
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