Fall is the time of year for changing of leaves, harvesting, splitting wood, pumpkin everything, and baby chicks! Most people do not think of baby chicks when they think of fall and honestly until this year I have not either. It all started when we had a hen that decided she wanted to be a momma. She would gather all the eggs from the day and sit on them. She would get oh so very mad when we would try and take them away. My son called her “beach ball” because she would puff up so big when you opened the door to get the eggs. We have never had a broody hen before, so we really did not know what to expect or what to do with her. We decided at first to just ignore her, I mean really how long could this last. Well the days turned into weeks and she still was adamant about sitting on those eggs. I will get back to her in a moment.
Last year we raised meat birds in the late winter, early spring. It took 8 weeks, we kept them in our garage until they were ready, took them to be processed, and we had a full freezer. It was a thing of beauty. We have been enjoying those meals through out the year, especially the ones cooked on the grill, and we needed to raise some more to get us through the winter. So we have been thinking about getting more meat birds but still had not decided one way or another and I had been dragging my feet on ordering them. Our broody hen helped us to make that decision. We ordered 24 more meat birds and asked them to add a couple egg layers for our broody hen to raise.
We ordered our birds from Welp Hatchery, a mail order company. And for those of you that think it is cruel to order birds in the mail, please send a letter to my Councilman and tell them why I need to be allowed to have a rooster! The company was wonderful and all of our chicks arrived in perfect condition. The cheeping box made the people at the post office smile. The mail order companies always add extra chicks to your order just in case some of them do not make it, so we really were not 100% sure about how many we were going to get. We ended up with 24 slow growing cornish rocks, and 8 pullets of unknown breed.
Our box of chicks, when we picked them up from the post office!
Back to my broody hen. Once we ordered the chicks we moved the broody hen or our isolation coop. It is always best to move a bird at night. They go into a trance and don’t really know what is going on. We put 8 wooden eggs under her and let her sit. The next morning she was very happy to have her eggs and to be in her own space. She was really happy because we put food and water close to the nesting box. She had not been really eating or drinking much the last two weeks because all she wanted to do was sit on eggs. The baby chicks arrived in the mail early in the morning. We fed, watered and watched them for the day to make sure they were all healthy, and then that night we removed all the wooden eggs and put the pullets under the broody hen. When we checked in on them the next morning they were one big happy family.
It has been a pure joy watching her raise these chicks. She is very protective and will run at you when you try to change the water and fill the food. She has been a very good mama bird. She has taught her babies how to scratch and eat worms. Mama with a chick on her head!
Today I was able to get a good look at the chicks. They are three weeks old and I think that we have 4 barred rocks and 4 golden laced wyandottes. A great addition to our egg laying flock! They are still in isolation, but in another couple weeks we hope to let them run with the rest of the flock. What a great experience and I am sure we will do it again.