Well, the hatching experiment was 50% successful. Two broody hens (hens that want to set on eggs – one Buff Orpington and one Cuckoo Maran) 12 eggs and six chicks later, we’ve got quite a little crew. Broody hens and new chicks have to be separated from the rest of the flock, because the others will kill the babies.
So, I sequestered the two broodies in the feed room/mini coop and their eggs began to hatch. Everything was fine until today, when I went to check on them around lunch time. One of the chicks lay dead, and the Maran was teaching another chick to, um, cannibalize it! 🙁
Needless to say, I grabbed the hen and pitched her out of the nursery! Unfortunately, the Orpington still had two eggs under her and wasn’t really interested in fostering someone else’s chick. I knew from the date that those two eggs were not going to hatch … later, I opened them both. One was infertile and the other had a deceased chick with only one eye.
Meanwhile, Ms. Maran was having a hissy fit and pacing back and forth, squawking loudly. I let her back into the small coop and she immediately started pecking at the Orpington, and another chick. So now, I readied the third, larger coop in the barn and put the babies all in there. Holy chirping, Batman! I could hear those babies all the way up at the house! I removed the aforementioned eggs from the Orpington, and put the Maran in with the babies (all of them) and sat there and watched them for 45 minutes to make sure she wasn’t going to kill them.
After things calmed down, the Maran started teaching the chicks to go to the feeder and to drink water. She also allowed them all to crawl under her. At this point, we were back to the cuteness of nature. A couple of the older chicks tried to jump up on her back, but they aren’t quite strong or tall enough yet. We will see what the morning brings.
When I left the barn this evening, I noticed that Laverne and Shirley, the cats, are very interested in those noisy chirpers…I’m hoping the chicken wire keeps them out!!
Baby pictures coming soon.