Our flock of chickens got a little bigger over the last week:
Mama May hatched two bouncing baby chicks!
Last year was the first year we ever had chicks hatch on the farm. Prior to that we didn’t (a) have a rooster and (b) that’s really the only reason. Then one of our young pullets went missing and, lo and behold, was found in the bushes on a clutch of eggs. She ended up hatching four of them and we realized right then and there how much easier it was to let chickens hatch their own eggs.
No Rubbermaid bin or metal stock tank full of chicks and poop and water and shavings in the house. No dangerous heat lamps sucking up electricity. No worrying about pasty butt or any of the other things one worries about when caring for chicks.
And best of all, no stink!
So we were thrilled when May, an Ameraucana hen, went broody a month ago. We’ve suffered quite a few chicken losses in the last six months and our flock is down to just four layers. May was sitting on four eggs, and we figured if we were lucky and got two pullets out of that, it would be great.
Well, in the end, only two eggs hatched. One of the others was unfertilized, and the last was stepped on accidentally before it was ready to hatch.
But two is better than nothing, and both chicks seem strong and healthy.
They’re both Ideal 236/Ameraucana mixes – May is actually biological mother to neither but, then again, it’s not the biology that counts. She is a wonderful and devoted mama, growling ferociously at us when we reach in to look, and chirping lovingly to the chicks even when they’re pecking at her eyes and otherwise pestering her.
And they pester her a lot. In fact, it seems to be the favorite pastime of chicks (and human kids, too)!
For the most part, we’re letting them be. The downside to letting a mama hen raise the chicks is that the chicks are a little more skittish than normal. Although, in my opinion, that’s not saying much because even hand-raised chicks seem to turn skittish, too (when not begging for scraps, that is).
I don’t mind; I think the trade off is worth it. The mama handles all the details, and the chicks are much happier. It’s so sweet to see them popping in and out from under May’s feathers, scrambling on top of her, and even hanging off her eyelids. And to see her teaching them to peck and scratch is adorable.
For now, all is right and well in the chicken coop.
Welcome to the farm, little chicks. We’re so glad you’re here!