Pearl did it, our first time surrogate success!

Discussion in 'Hatch-A-Longs' started by Birdinhand, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. Birdinhand

    Birdinhand Chillin' With My Peeps

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    our Astrolorp went broody about a month ago and I decided, what the heck, I'll get some fertile eggs off of craig's list and help my friend build her flock without the tedium of using an incubator or having to tend the chicks by hand. so I waited the recommended week to assure she was "committed to sitting" and then I met a total stranger in a safeway parking lot, exchanged cash for a dozen eggs and then, come night fall, I exchanged the fake eggs for the real ones. today was day 21 and i went down to the coop and Pearl had left her box and moved to the floor, and much to my delight, 9 little peepers had made it! She left some of them in the box, so I transferred them to the ground and they wasted no time getting under wing. my kiddos were super psyched to watch a real hen care for her chicks. It's just kind of wild that a first time hen knows just what to do, every step of the way. Our Pearl was raised by us by hand from our own DIY incubator (cooler-bator) that I put together for my daughter's kinder garden class last spring, so we've come full circle and thankfully Pearl is very trusting of my children!
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  2. FridayYet

    FridayYet Innocent Bystander

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    Congratulations!
     
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Great stuff! Nothing better than seeing momma and chicks running around the garden!

    CT
     
  4. elevatedruby

    elevatedruby Out Of The Brooder

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    would you recommend using your eating egg layers to sit on fertilized eggs. i was going to do that method instead of incubator method, because i plan on leaving them with their mom for maybe a week after they hatch so she can teach them.
     
  5. Birdinhand

    Birdinhand Chillin' With My Peeps

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    from what I can tell, about the only thing that matters is that the hen has actually gone "broody", as in is sitting, 24/7, the switch is either on or off, no in between. I read that usually if they have been sitting for a week that it's a safe bet that they can be trusted with fertile eggs. for me, the draw is that the hen turns the eggs, maintains the perfect temp and humidity and is power outage proof, she's a veritable back up generator :~). then once hatched, it's hard to imagine why one would want to take the chicks away because she is a free heat lamp and she won't start laying again for a while anyway so might as well take advantage of her rearing abilities. a 250W bulb, going 24/7 adds substantially to one's electric bill. surrogate broodies offer an economical and worry free alternative to incubators and heat lamps and the process breaks them of being broody and returns them to egg laying. as far as the chicks actually needing a broody hen to teach them, I don't think so, they come with some pretty hard wired instincts, so if you have to separate them, it's no biggie as long as you offer them heat in addition to food and water. I did see a study once that suggested that chicks learn "the language" of clucking from their moms. Starting days before they hatch mom and chick begin clucking and peeping through the shell to one another, the mother presumably reasuring/encouraging the chick as it begins the daunting process of hatching. thus this language is said to be passed on to their babies. Even still, our astrolorpe was hand raised and she still seems to have quite a repertoire that she shares with her chicks, certainly much of it is instinct.
     
  6. elevatedruby

    elevatedruby Out Of The Brooder

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    im on the right track then, imay need more hens that are broody. thankfully my mother in law has 3 broody game hens and maybe my friend can give me a really good deal on some of his that are just cast-aside hens
     
  7. Birdinhand

    Birdinhand Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm sorry to announce the passing of Black Pearl, our beloved Astrolorp chicken. She was the lone survivor of our fist hatch last year (other than several roosters) and the foster mama of two week old chicks. She got what can only be described as "broody wasting syndrome" where the instinct to sit on eggs and take care of the chicks eclipses the desire to eat and drink. I was hoping that giving her some fertile eggs to incubate and raise would help her snap out of it but even after doing so well with the eggs and the chicks that hatched she apparently was not eating. we came out to the coop before leaving for a trip last Friday and found here on here side, unable to hold her neck up. she was skin and bones. I came very close to putting her down right then but I decided to try and rehydrate her by dipping her beak in water and she drank. after several rounds of this she seemed to perk up so we decided to take her with us on our family trip... I think we've gone mad but this hen has been a big part of our life, particularly our daughter's. I told my daughter that she would most likely die on the trip but that we would give it our best shot to revive her. this lead to feeding her a watery mash of feed with an eye dropper three times a day and she did seem to get better each day until the day we were going to head home, we found that she had passed on that night, it was lots of sadness that day with our daughter but she handled it about as well as I could possibly imagine a 7 year old. We pulled some feathers for keep sake and bagged her up for a home burial. As much as we grow our own meat birds, this was to be one of our long cherished layer hen turned pet, the first chick my daughter raised from a hatchling. seeing her go so young was tough on all of us. life springs eternal and precious memories stay with us and enrich our lives, we'll miss you Pearl!
     

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