I just walked out to the coop to check on the broody mama, and I saw a little ball of fluff walking around amidst the grownups, peeping for its mama! I couldn’t believe it! I picked him up and put him back in the nest, and saw two other little balls of fluff in there, as well. Well, one was fluffy, and the other was still wet from hatching.
WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE MY EXCITEMENT!
After so many failed attempts at having the broody sit on eggs, I was holding my breath, trying not to get my hopes up. I didn’t want to disappoint the kids if nothing hatched, or if the babies died, so I warned them that there might only be a few (or none), and that some might die. I ran back in the house and told the girls that there were babies, and we did a little chicken dance together.
I gave her these eight eggs on 5/13, so this is the 20th day. It’s usually 21 days, but chicks can hatch a little earlier under actual hens (as opposed to in an incubator). I wonder how many will hatch?
The other little fluffy chick wasn’t moving, so I used a broom to hold the mama down (so she wouldn’t peck me too badly) and picked it up. It’s foot is all bloody, and it looks like it was pecked at. Could the mama have done this? I’m going to have to go back out and check on her. We might have to bring this one indoors. That stinks, because I don’t want to raise them. I want her to raise them! But I also can’t let the little fellow (gal?) die, if I have the power to help it.
I saw a cracked (pipped) egg yesterday as the hen shifted, so I wondered if we might have chicks today. I’ve been going out every couple of hours to check, and never heard even a peep until this last time. I so badly want to look underneath her and see what else is going on, but I’m afraid to do much investigating, lest she freak out and smoosh somebody under there.
We plan to move the chicks and mama to their own chicken tractor until they’re big enough to integrate in with the rest of the flock. For today, I shooed the chickens out and locked the door, so the mama and babies will have more peace. Jason’s coming home a little early to help me figure things out. The mama is nesting in a milk crate that is elevated a few inches off the coop floor, so if the babies come out, they don’t know how to get back in. We thought about leaving the chicks in with the flock and letting the mama do the protecting. There are mixed reviews on the best course of action. Doing it now means the mama and chicks take care of their own integration, but it also means some chicks could get hurt (or even killed). We’d need to move the nest into a more chick-accessible location, and replace all the layer feed with chick starter (layer has too much calcium, but layers can eat chick starter if I supplement with crushed egg shells).
My head is spinning. Off to check the babies. If you know anything about chickens and have suggestions for me, especially about the chick’s foot, holler!