About a month ago, my only chantecler hen, aka brown chicken, decided to go broody. This meant she was determined to be a mama, by almost any means necessary. Broody hens will sometimes sit on fake eggs or golf balls for several weeks hoping they will hatch. When a hen gets broody, they first lay a clutch of eggs and then sit on that clutch for 21 days, until they hatch. They stop laying eggs ,the entire time they are broody, which is an annoyance for many since usually the sole purpose for having hens is to enjoy their eggs.
I had a few choices of how to handle this “situation” I could remove her non-fertile cultch of eggs daily and hope to break her broodiness, I could separate her to try and break the broodiness, or I could give her some fertile eggs to hatch.
When I learned that most chicken breeds have had the “broody trait” purposely bred out of them, I decided to encourage her natural instinct and let her try to hatch some fertile eggs. A hen that is allowed to hatch eggs usually has a 100% hatch rate versus incubated eggs, which yield an 80% hatch rate.
My friend has a rooster and was generous enough to give me 10 eggs from her hens. On May 1st, I placed the eggs in the separate nest area I had created for “Miss Broody” using an old dog crate and decided to see what would happen. Thankfully, everything went as nature intended and last Saturday the first batch of baby chicks began hatching.
Sadly, one of the eggs did not hatch even though there was a fully developed chick inside 😦 Yes, I looked…..I was curious what happened and wanted to be sure there wasn’t a chance it could survive before I buried it.
I believe it would’ve hatched but because it was a “late hatcher” and mama didn’t have time to continue to sit on it with 9 baby chicks to tend. This being a new experience for me, I didn’t realize until it was too late that I should’ve taken the egg and placed it in an incubator to give it more time. Lesson learned!
It has been difficult to not spend most of the day outside watching the cute little fluff balls! They are just so darn cute! The rest of the post will be lots of pictures and videos of mama and her babies! Enjoy!
Below is a video of Mama and babies eating together for the first time. If you look close, you’ll see a tiny beak on the left side grabbing a bite!
This video was taken on hatch day 2, in the beginning you can see her push an unhatched egg underneath her to keep it warm. These four chicks were the first ones to hatch on Saturday.
The video below is mama showing her babies how to scratch, peck, and forage. You’ll see her “call” them over to peck.
This last video was taken on Monday, when they were three days old. They had become much more active. I have no idea why they peck at their mama’s eyes but watch until the end, the yellow one on her back sneaks up and gets a good grip on her eyelid….yikes!
Doesn’t this make you want some cute baby chicks?!? Happy Friday!