Welcome to the Farm, Little Chicks

June 26, 2018

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!

8 Comments

  • ruthsoaper

    June 26, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    I love watching a hen raise chicks. It’s been a while since we have allowed one to brood.Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

  • willowcreekfarm

    June 26, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    You are right – it is SO much easier! We used to use an incubator a lot, or buy chicks. Then we found the beauty of hens hatching and we went a couple years with just hens doing all the work. More recently we have had to buy chicks again, but I just put eggs under a hen yesterday, so in 20 days we will have our own little group of chicks picking on their mama at our farm too.

    1. lacey

      June 26, 2018 at 11:28 pm

      Yes! The only downside is obviously the likelihood of getting roosters. We’re calling them “she” in hopefulness, but if they turn out to be boys it might be chicken dinner at our house … :\

  • The EcoFeminist

    June 26, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Those are some brilliant photos especially the one with the chick popping out of the Mama’s feathers!!! Definitely a great idea to let them mother their own chicks… Wondering how that might work with meat chickens as we were planning to do those next year after we’re done settling in to the new house…

    1. lacey

      June 26, 2018 at 11:26 pm

      I was wondering that same thing! We want to do meat chickens next year too … might have to google it and see if anyone else is doing it.

      1. The EcoFeminist

        June 26, 2018 at 11:41 pm

        I suppose in a creepy way we just have to pick the two best looking breeders out of the bunch and let them live…🙄

  • Brett Ann Stanciu

    June 28, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Fantastic photos! It is amazing how fast the world grows!

    1. lacey

      June 29, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you!

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