Chick hatching season is upon us and, so far, we’ve got 11 new chicks bopping around the farm.
All the hens seem to go broody within weeks of one another, so we tend to see a sudden drop off in egg production every May and June.
One of the hens was sitting on a clutch of six eggs. The first egg hatched and she stayed on the remainder of the clutch for another day. Then, she took her solitary little yellow ball of fluff and left.
And she never came back.
The problem here is that the remainder of the eggs are undoubtedly fertile and are most likely only a day, or possibly hours, from hatching. Being abandoned at this stage of the game ensures their shell-bound death.
The upshot being that that hen sucked.
So, we dusted off our incubator, fired it up, and placed the remaining eggs inside.
Within a day, we had three more chicks (the two remaining eggs ended up not hatching – one wasn’t fertilized and the other wasn’t fully developed).
Since Sucky Mama camped out in our mud room with her solo chick, we thought it might be worth a shot to introduce the remaining three to her and see if she would take them in.
We brought her all three, placed them nearby, and waited.
After about a minute, she moved toward them gently and, just as all seemed like it might go pretty well, she began pecking at them viciously.
Removing them as quickly as possible from Sucky Homicidal Mama, we created a little space for them indoors with food, water, and a heat lamp.
We knew we had a couple of days before they’d be ready to go outside, so we went to find our old chicken tractor to see what sort of condition it was in after being abandoned for almost two years.
It wasn’t in good condition.
It had largely been reclaimed by the earth and, when we went to lift it, pretty much fell apart and laughed at us for thinking we could use it safely.
And then it laughed some more.
Time to build a new chicken tractor.
We happened to have a few spare pieces of 2×4 in the garage and some old 1″ pvc from last winter’s mini hoophouses. These made the structure of the tractor over which we simply draped some 1″ chicken wire that we secured with staples and zip ties.
side note: There is nothing in the world more useful than zip ties.
The chickies will stay here, learning how to be chickens in a safe and protected environment, until they have feathered out and are at least half as big as the others.
Without the benefit of a mama hen to show them the ropes, this is a necessary precaution that will keep them alive and well.
And, because Karma is a swift and merciless bitch, Dave found Sucky Homicidal Mama’s only chick having drowned in one of the mini troughs we keep for chicken/dog/cat water.
Which is why, as the old saying goes, you should never ditch your eggs before they hatch.