I mentioned a while back that we've recently had three broody bantam hens. The two hens who were sharing one nest hatched out four Black Australorp chicks.
It's hard to get a good picture of the two mamas and babies because the chicks move so fast. Also, the second the hens see me with my camera, they shout, "Run, children, it's the paparazzo!"
It's kind of a neat arrangement. Both hens are raising the four chicks and the chicks, not knowing any different, think they have two mothers.
Another curious thing . . . three of the chicks refuse to go into their shelter at night where their mamas and sibling are locked away safe from marauding, possible chick-eating critters. They go off (we have no idea where) to spend the night snuggled down together. First thing in the morning, before the chicken doors are opened for the day, the three of them can be seen zipping around all by their lonesomes.
Why is it that when we order day old chicks from the hatchery, we have to keep them under a brooder light with special food and water for so long, until they are feathered out and deemed developed and old enough to make it in the great out-of-doors chicken yard by themselves?
These little guys being raised naturally (except for being smart enough to snuggle under a warm, safe and secure mother hen body at night) have no special heat lamp or water or food and are doing just fine.
Best to let nature take its course? The natural way is the best way? Obviously, having a mother hen (or two) to take care of the chicks and show them the ropes, so to speak, works very well.