"The miracle of life"

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by ksguy, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. ksguy

    ksguy Songster

    Jun 9, 2015
    Just want to post a success story.

    Father's Day 2019, a neighbor dog and its five young puppies got out and decimated our flock that was roaming our backyard. We were left with just one bird, a gold laced wyandotte. She had never shown any signs of broodiness, and was extremely wary of people as she was raised by a hen that was herself wary of people.

    I contemplated re-homing her so she wouldn't be alone, but my wife and daughter really wanted to keep her. Within two days she went broody, we're thinking in an attempt to do the chicken version of rebuilding society after Armageddon. She started sitting on 4 infertile eggs that were in the nest box when the attack happened. We planned to get some babies when the hatchery man came around, so that we could sneak them underneath her at night, but missed him the first time. We finally got to go get some babies on Saturday afternoon, July 20 - so unfortunately, she sat broody for 5 weeks.

    Backtrack to two summers ago, we had success with this method and a buff orpington that went broody. We were very careful with the process. I set up a small "run within the run", and a small coop in the small run so that she could be separate from the rest of the flock while she raised her brood. We put her and her eggs in the small coop about 3 nights before we got the chicks so she'd have time to adapt, and she took to it well. When we went out at night to put the chicks under her, she pecked the first one out of fright for what was crawling around her - but when she realized it was a chick she quickly tucked it in. We gave her the remaining 5 chicks and she carefully tucked them all in underneath her, and bit me when I reached down to check and make sure they were all under her. That was basically the last contact I had with the chicks, as she was SUPER protective of her babies. Any time I got close to them after that, she attacked me. And there was NO WAY she let the other hens close to her babies. They all grew up just fine but wouldn't have anything to do with us. One of those babies is our now broody girl.

    Back to present day. It's been extremely hectic at home, and I didn't have time to get the small coop set up in advance. We didn't need it to keep them separate from other chickens, obviously, but our nest box is about 20" off the floor of the coop and I didn't want the chicks in there and risk having them fall out. I just wanted it on the floor so they could wander the inside of the coop to eat, drink, and play, and go back to mama.

    I didn't even get it set up until after we acquired our chicks. So it's Saturday night, after dark, I've used the shop vac to get rid of all the old litter and dust, spread new pine shavings, and put the "mini coop" in there, with a nice straw nest. We got 5 eggs from our fridge, boiled them to get them warm, and set them in the nest at about 10:30. We moved broody into the new nest, and she had zero objection. We decided to just put the chicks in immediately. It wasn't completely dark - I had the tractor outside the coop with the headlights on so we could see what we were doing - and she saw us give her the first chick. She acted a bit confused but let the chick go under her - great! We added chick after chick, and after about 4, she started tucking them in. She let me reach under her and pull out the eggs, and took the next 5 chicks just fine, for a total of ten babies. We scratched her back and neck and left for the night, hoping she'd accept them. We were really worried since we gave her no transition time in her new little nest.

    (Side note for the curious - we used eggs from the fridge since the ones she had been sitting on were EXTREMELY ripe from the 5 weeks of aging in the heat, and I was worried we'd have a nasty explosion during the chaos of moving her, adding chicks, etc. We also didn't put the boiled eggs down while they were still boiling hot - we let them cool to "about" hen temperature.)

    Sunday morning we went to check on her. All of the chicks were alive and well, and started chirping and many came out to see us! We put a little chair inside the coop so we could sit by her, and she let us handle the babies, pet her, and even let us reach under her to get out babies that were still hiding. She was completely tame and tolerant. It was amazing. She ate out of our hands, drank some cool water from a small dish we held by her, and even let my daughter brush her with a doll brush.

    All this just to say that, at least in our limited experience, when a hen is broody she just plain wants chicks. Didn't matter if we prepared a home for her and gave her a few days to adapt before sticking them under her under moonlight, or moving her and immediately putting chicks down while she could see what we were doing. She knew they didn't hatch, she just wanted them.

    The "miracle of life."

    Her new babies:
    Sexed pullets: one each silver laced wyandotte, barred rock, welsummer
    Straight run: One each ameraucana, lavender orpington, and partridge cochin bantam, and two each silkies and buff orpingtons

    mom and babies 1.jpg mama with babies 2.jpg mama with babies 3.jpg chicks.jpg
  2. Wolfefarmyard

    Wolfefarmyard Crowing

    Aug 18, 2017
    Gansevoort, NY
    How heartwarming and absolutely adorable! :love
    drumstick diva likes this.
  3. Perris

    Perris Still learning

    Jan 28, 2018
    Gower, Wales
    good luck with your new flock - it looks like your broody will make a good matron to bring 'em up proper! Nice mix of breeds to give you a colourful egg basket too :D
    Has the neighbour got his/her dogs under control now?
    drumstick diva likes this.
  4. ksguy

    ksguy Songster

    Jun 9, 2015
    Thanks! We're looking forward to having a full-size flock again.

    Long story short, we don't know about the dogs. Haven't seen them since 4th of July weekend but who knows. It was an entire litter of pups and the mama dog that kept escaping because the neighbor had a broken gate latch and was "repairing" it with a piece of rope. Animal control and the sheriff were called multiple times, so maybe they're gone.

    If you check my post history you'll see I've had trouble with that neighbor before.
    drumstick diva likes this.

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