I thought I was so
lucky to get bonus chicks when a
missing hen turned up with eight babies in the barn, but this has actually
turned out to be one of our most traumatic hatches ever.
When I posted last, one
chick had been eaten by a snake and I was pondering whether to try to move
the hen to a safer location. A few days later, the hen
stopped my vacillation in its tracks when she decided to move the
chicks herself. (There were only six chicks left by that
point, which may be what spurred the move.)
mother hen seems to have no instinct for what is a safe spot to
raise her offspring. Her new location was under a few pieces
of plastic trellis leaned against the outside of the barn.
That seemed so patently unsafe that Mark and I decided it was time
to move them ourselves.
Easier said than
done! Grabbing the hen was simple once she settled down for
the evening, but the chicks exploded out in all directions.
Trying to catch six mouse-sized chicks in the barn proved
impossible, so we had to let the hen go to gather them back up
Then things got
worse. The hen lost three babies overnight, leaving her with
only three, and she also decided it was time to take them out for
strolls into the garden to peck at my ripe strawberries. Bad
chickens! Mark helped me move one of our old chicken
tractors close to the barn, and I easily tricked the hen and
chicks inside. (Silkworms
make great training tools — after just three feedings, the hen
now comes when I call.) However, she hated being cooped up
so much that she battered her way back out after I closed the
door, and the chicks followed.
It seems that each
broody hen we’ve dealt with so far has had a major weakness.
was not only mean, she couldn’t seem to incubate the eggs very
well so we only got a single chick. This marans
is kinder and did a great job hatching her eggs, but she can’t
seem to keep them alive and won’t stay within bounds where we can
take care of chick safety. Suddenly, the tried-and-true
incubator is looking better and better.
helped tempt the hen and her babies in the first time.