Saturday, August 24, 2013

Here A Chick, There A Chick . . .

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.

8 comments:

  1. Always better to have mama chick than go thru the brooder light, temp controls, etc. Nothing like organic baby chicks, survival of the fittest works best.

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    1. Tombstone Livestock - I've been chastised a couple of times for going by the "survival of the fittest" theory, but in the long run don't you end up with the healthiest stock that way? (Not that I don't believe in taking good care of livestock, if you know what I mean.)

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  2. The home chicks have a big advantage in having their mother hen at the ready. If I could time everything right, I would order day old chicks and slide them under Marie-Claire, my best surrogate hen. She has successfully raised every home chick I have. I love to watch the interaction between hen and chick - the different 'language' she uses, and how patient and alert she is. I sure hope those three "loners" are lucky enough to evade the predators. I have the same bantams!

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    1. Susan - The wayward chicks are fairly safe. Wherever they bed down for the night, they are within electrified fencing and we've never had anything go through or over it. (Knock, knock on wood!) Unless the little dummies go through the electric fence. Nah, I'm afraid we'd find fried fluff balls if they tried that. And that wouldn't be good.

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  3. They're awfully cute. I've had a great time watching our first naturally raised clutch grow up. Ours also try to avoid the coop at night, but I know where they go, so I fetch them...every. night. Wondering how long that will go on. I think they do it because their 'aunties' are actually pretty mean. I caught an aunt guarding the coop door at one point. Silly chickens.

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    1. Tyche's Run - Well, these little babes and their mamas have their very own "house" away from the big flock. But I do know what you mean about having to round up all-night partyers(!) each and every night. Last winter our Islandic rooster preferred to roost in a tree every single night. Hubby got tired of having to climb to catch him to throw him in the house . . . and he survived the winter pretty well.

      Yes, the "aunties" can be awfully mean. My daughter has a hen that goes for the eyes (cringe!) of any new chick that comes near her. That hen would have been in the stew pot at our house long ago!

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  4. Replies
    1. Stephanie - It is so much fun to watch them zipping around. And zip, they do!

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