Thursday, June 9, 2016

We Have Chicks!

    A couple of months ago, one of our hens went broody.  We tried to discourage her by removing the eggs and forcing her to leave the nest box, but she was not having it.  So I relented, and got some eggs from a friend who has a rooster.  (Nothing was going to be hatching out of our eggs, no matter how long she sat.)  Twenty days later, we had our first chick. A little brown, chipmunk striped, ball of fluff.
    Day 21, the little yellow one hatched, then on day 22, we had another stripy one.  Early Monday morning, on day 23, I went out to check on the chicks, and saw a dead little chick outside of the nest box. It's shell was next to it, and it had evidently fallen out of the nest box while hatching, and died from exposure.  But then, as I bent down for a closer look, I saw a little breath; a few seconds later, another one.  I quickly got Anna, (she is much better at dealing with crazy broody chickens than I am) and she put it under the mama's wing.  She was sure it was dead, but I knew I saw it breathe, and sure enough, several hours later we saw it stick it's little head out from underneath it's mama, alive and well!

   It has adorable little spots on it, as if its specially marked. We did have one other chick hatch on Monday, but it was not formed right, and didn't make it.  Which made me doubly glad that this little chick survived.
     The mama hen has been an excellent mother.  She wouldn't leave her eggs for anything, and now she protects and cares for her little chicks with extreme devotion.  We do not need four more chicks, though, and so we will be giving these away soon.  I would let them stay longer, if we had a better set-up, but what we have now is very temporary, and wont work for much longer.
     The low gate discourages the other hens from getting in their space, but there really isn't enough space.  I am glad to have had this experience, and will definitely let a mama hen do all the work in raising chicks, next time I need to expand our flock.

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