Thursday, August 18, 2011

Giving the (Second) Broody Hen some Chicks

One of our hens got broody about two months ago. We thought it would be fun to see if she could hatch some eggs, so got some fertile eggs from Trader Joe's and put them under her. About a week later, a friend decided he wanted them if they hatched, but would prefer not to have a commercial breed. So he got some eggs from another friend who has a rooster. We marked X's on them, and set them under her.

Lo and behold, about 3 weeks later, half of them hatched. These three chicks were awfully cute, but we did give them to the friend to raise them.

In the meantime, another chicken had gone broody. She sat with the first chicken for the last two or three days. When the eggs hatched, Broody #1 stopped being broody, but Broody #2 just kept sitting.

About a week later, we had a chicken tragedy. There was a loud noise at 6:30 a.m., and we went out later to find both Barred Rock chickens headless and bloodless, laying in the yard. My husband disposed of them, and our toddler asks about them every day. We have had numerous conversations about that they are dead and that it was a raccoon or skunk or fox. One of the Rhode Island Reds is missing her neck feathers and looks to have made a narrow escape.

So off to the Feed Store we went, newborn and all.

We ended up with four new baby chicks, and instructions to put them under the broody hen at night.  The guy there said chickens can't see, and in the morning she would wake up and think they were the eggs that had hatched, and mother them.  We chose two Barred Rocks, a Buff Orpington, and a Buff Brahma.  We put them under her after dark.  My husband had to shoo her onto them, but she took right to them, spreading her wings to keep them warm at night.

Seeing her with them is quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen.  They follow her around and she clucks at them and they peep at her.  They imitate her every move, and hop all over her body, even resting atop her at times.

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