Buying chicks is probably my favorite springtime tradition. (This is our 3rd year doing so.) Yesterday was the day! The kids and I went to the feed store right after we finished our schoolwork. Less than an hour later, we were home with a baker's dozen of cute fuzzy chicks:
3 black Austrolorp
2 gold Sexlink
3 Buff Orpington
2 Gold Lace Wyandette
We had two broody hens so we planned to have one raise the chicks. We did this once before and it worked beautifully.
Tabby carefully slipped the chicks under Precious. She is our experienced mama and did a terrific job raising a flock of chicks last spring.
|Precious sitting on 13 chicks|
Precious sat on the chicks for a bit. One kept escaping though. Tabby named that adventurous one "Indiana." (Indiana Jones) Our nesting boxes aren't a good set up for this, so just like last year, Tabby carefully moved Precious into a big dog cage with the chicks. However, unlike last year, Precious started freaking out.
She kept pacing around in the cage and just wouldn't settle down. We left her there for quite awhile hoping she would go back to the chicks, but she never did.
|Precious pacing after she quit her job|
We kept a check on her - occasionally when a chick tried to slip out she'd make a warning sound and give a little peck at it. She was doing good.
But then a bit later, I noticed a few chicks had escaped. Tabby and I discussed it and she felt like the chicks would probably go back to Beru since the other chicks were still under her.
|Beru - sitting alert and proud (or is it plotting ...)|
I heard a terrible squawking from Beru and the peeping noises from the chicks greatly increased in volume. I ran out to see what was wrong and the chicks had rushed to the front of the cage and several had their heads through trying to escape. Crazy Beru was in the back and pecking at a chick which such fierceness that the chick was bouncing into the air!
What in the world?! Beru had rejected the chicks. So I rejected Beru and grabbed her out of the cage, and tossed her back into the yard with the other hens.
I scooped up the little chicks that were in a panicked huddled mass and put them back in the box that we brought them home in. I counted. Nine-ten-eleven-twelve. Thirteen? Where was our number thirteen?
Then I found the poor little (Ameraucana) in a tiny heap in the straw. She was still alive, but barely. I quickly got a soft warm cloth, wrapped her in it, and held her in my lap.
Tabby and I narrowed our eyes and glared towards the coop, where Beru had run back to.
We will never look at that hen the same.
Sooooo ... no fun (and convenience!) this year of watching a mama hen raise some biddies. We got out a big tub, the heat lamps, and set things up. Thankfully the chicks were very happy in this new - safe! - home:
I peeked at them later that night and they were snoring away.