Friday, August 16, 2013

Growing chicks

We've had 4 hens go broody so far this year....that is, they decided it was time to hatch eggs and hunkered down with determination.  When this instinct, bred out of most modern hens, kicks in, the hen will stop laying eggs of her own and just work hard at hatching the eggs she is on.  Her body temperature goes up, and for about three weeks she will leave the nest only about once a day to eat, drink, and eliminate....and what an eliminate it is!  Broody poo is a huge, stinking pile that has been accurately describe as "epic."

Twenty chicks have been hatched so far, with only one loss in the first day.  Two hens hatched six chicks each, and the other two hatched four each.  The last hen to hatch was the one that lost a chick.  There could have been something wrong with it, or she could have stomped on it.  I saw her stomp another chick clumsily and she is a big girl, a Buff Brahma purchased last year at the local feed store as a week old chick.

It seems like a different hen went broody about every three weeks or so, so each family of chicks is a different size, from teensy fluffballs to almost full grown.

 This foursome was abandoned by their mother weeks ago.  They are very independent.
Mama is still watching over these six, teaching them to forage and keeping them safe under her wings at night.
I love, love, love having so many broody hens raising chicks for us.  No mess, no fuss, she does all the work, and really teaches them to find their own food.  The hen above, with the six, rarely comes in for grain morning and evening.  She is finding plenty and teaching her young 'uns how to successfully find their own food.  This is the best thing about broody raised chicks!
I have one more hen hunkered down in a nest box, and tonight I will move her to a safe, isolated spot so she can safely sit on the eggs I'll give her tomorrow, once she's settled in and recovered from her move.  Both of these tasks will be done at night, since chickens are night blind, so she won't fuss too much and won't realize until morning that she's been moved.  At least it will seem like she doesn't know.  She'll accept it, at any rate.  She would be more likely to frantically try to get back to her original nest if I moved her in the daylight.  And the silly thing is sitting on nothing, trying desperately to hatch....air!  I'll give her some real eggs, fertile ones from our flock, and she'll be very content.  

No comments:

Post a Comment