July 7, 2012

Hatch Announcement

Well, my broody Buff Orpington out-persisted me and has one brand new baby chick to show for it. When I couldn't break her broody, I gave her 3 eggs, jotted down the date, and forgot about it.


I was milking Ziggy the other evening, when I heard her clucking softly. I stopped to take a closer listen and heard a little "peep, peep, peep". If I tried to come near, she would clam up and hunker down. The peeping would stop too. Since my Buffs were mama hen raised, none of them are particularly "friendly" so I backed off and waited. Eventually I had a chance to see the new chick, another Buff Orpington. Of the three eggs, it was the only one that hatched.


Considering how vicious some of my older hens were toward the Buffs when they were chicks, I am concerned for this chick. We don't really have a good area for raising chicks, so I did a make-shift pen in the chicken yard with rabbit fencing, the kitty carrier, and the top to our first-try corn crib. They need to be protected from predators and overly playful puppy dogs as well.


Actually, raising chicks every year is one of our self-sufficiency goals. I've learned though, that I seriously need to rethink our set-up to accommodate future mama hen wannabes and their broods.


Here's hoping this little one does well.

30 comments:

Farmer Barb said...

There is nothing better than THAT!!!My experience with blending flocks tells me that the see-through approach is key. If they can't see the baby an smell it, they will try to kill it when they CAN get at it.

Sadly we are a No-Rooster town. If I want meat replacers, I will have to raise ducks, geese, turkeys or guineas. Those boys aren't outlawed here.

Does the hen eat the chick starter or are you not doing that?

Congratulations!

Woolly Bits said...

they are soooo cute at that stage! and I can understand that she is protective, if she only has the one... luckily our neighbours are far enough away to not be concerned about roosters, but we still have to wait until the building works are finished... just another few years so:))
good luck with the lonely chick!

Bettina

Madness, Trouble, Squish and Milkbone said...

Oh, the little chick is so cute. And Mama-hen looks awfully proud!

Florida Farm Girl said...

There is nothing cuter than a little biddy. Let's hope mama hen can keep this one safe.

Joyfulhomemaker said...

i have a completely seperate nursery pen for for letting girls that are determined to hatch some babies,then they get rehoused with the main flock at about 4 months old

Mama Pea said...

Even raising chickens gets more complicated than it seems it should! If you have more than one breed and want to keep the strain pure, you have to separate like hens AND roosters. Which means you have to keep a rooster for each breed. And on and on it goes through raising up the chicks. Is nothing simple?? :o}

DebbieB said...

Persistence pays off, Mama Buff!

Nina said...

Congrats to the new mama! Chicks are so cute. Everything I've read so far suggests that the fenced barriers which allow sight and smell but keeps minimal physical contact is the best way to easily introduce new chicks to the flock. At least you have fertile eggs to use. Our current gal is brooding on a golf ball!

Renee Nefe said...

Congratulations! I hope your chick pen works out. Mamma seems to approve...or not disapprove too much.

Leigh said...

Barb, that's what I did last year, with Mama Welsummer and her brood. They were hatched in the kidding stall, where the rest of the flock could see, hear, and smell. Photos of my set-up in this post, The Mathematics of Baby Chicks. By the time they were old enough to mix with the flock, our rooster was on the warpath. He killed one and was after the rest. It seemed to me too, that the hens that were most viscous were the ones on the bottom of the original pecking order, particularly Mrs. Mean. These were determined to establish a place higher up in the order. And Mrs. Mean, she picks on the Buffs to this day!

Bettina, I confess I wish we had more. Casualty rates with chicks are pretty high. Next year maybe we'll be better prepared.

MTS&M, and she is!

FFG, she seems to be doing a very good job so far. She knows how to position herself between me (or anything else) and her chick. :)

Joyfulhomemaker, that's the kind of set up I need. It's a matter of having the room, which means building something, LOL. Like every thing else, it's on "the list."

Mama Pea, so true. We decided to just keep one rooster and about a dozen hens. The key is keeping a rooster to a breed we want. While I love having multi-colored eggs, one breed seems the easiest route. At the moment, that's Buff Orpingtons for us.

Debbie, thanks!

Nina, we tried that last year (see my response to Barb at the top of this comment). I cannot attest that it works however. I kinda wish I'd let her have more eggs now. A 1/3 hatch ratio isn't much and a few more would have been nice for the freezer.

Renee, thanks! Actually, Mama and Chick have already "escaped." More on that story soon. :)

Leigh said...

P.S. for Barb on the chick starter feed. Last year I let mama and chicks eat just that. I had some leftover and put it in the feeder this year, but Mama is more interested in scratching up stuff for her and baby to eat. So the starter feed is available in the chick feeder, but they're mostly getting scratch and fine chicken feed I toss onto the ground.

jean@pilgrimscottage said...

Oh, I hope your new little chickie does well. So sweet. We put up the same kind of makeshift for ours to protect some chicks but, found we didn't need it. Our dogs leave our chicks alone and mama keeps them close to the house away from predators. Your Buff mama is very pretty.

Sherri B. said...

Oh boy, an only child, that will be one spoiled chick!..So sweet.

Have a lovely weekend my friend

Kristi said...

Hooray for you! Even one little chick is exciting, and a good way to work the kinks out of your system. Good luck to that mama hen.

sista said...

I let a couple of my girls raise chicks every year. Usually it is the Silkies but last year one of the buffs did it too. I have a chicken tractor that I use for the family during the day. It is 3ft. by 8ft. covered with chicken wire with wheels and handles so I can move it up to the run. It comes in handy for a lot of things including breaking a broody. By the time the the little ones are ready to go out everyone has had a chance to see them. My rooster is just 1 1/2 lb bantam so I get the benefits of having a rooster without the worry of mixing breeds. Chicks come from one of the two feed stores here and get tucked under a determined mom. There is a good picture of the tractor at http://welcometothehenhouse.blogspot.com/2010/05/chickens-and-ducks-and-turkeys-oh-my.html I was using it for my new young flock

Bernadine said...

I hope the little chick does well. That's a beautiful hen, too. Congratulations on one step closer to self sustenance.

Sue said...

Congrats on the new one!

I had hoped to break my broody hen with chicks from the hatchery, but they flaked on me and I never got the 50 I had ordered (I was supposed to be able to pick them up but got the run-around and left with just my turkey poults). Hopefully she'll give up soon.

Julene said...

What a sweet surprise! She is so cute! Raising chickens does pose its problems. We are having issues with introducing the new hens to the old hens. We had to set up a series of separated cages so the young hens could heal from the pecking they received from one old hen. It's good to be able to see what is going on in the coup! We will hope your little chick thrives!!

nancy said...

She did a good job, even if only the 1! I love little fuzz balls at that age!

Leigh said...

Jean, it's nice that your dogs don't bother the chicks. Ours are still puppies and love to run and chase. I've had to give them heck for chasing the new goats!

Sherri, funny but it thinks its the only chick in the world. :)

Kristi, here's hoping it makes it. We had 19 chicks last year and lost about three of them. Not bad, but I learned the casualty rate will probably always be higher than we'd like.

Sista, we haven't decided about a chicken tractor yet. Makes sense for some things, but right now our chickens have run of the pastures and woods, so I wonder how they'd like the restriction!

Bernadine, thanks!

Sue, 50, oh my. I thought 25 for a minimum was a lot. Would love to raise some turkeys some day. We'll consider that when we finally get around to our "perfect" chicken coop. :)

Julene, seems like different folks have different experiences with that. A creep for the young chickens to get away from the older hens seems a must. So far Mama has done a good job of keeping the older chickens away. I hope that continues and we integrate better this year.

Nancy, I know. They're so cute!

Lisa B. said...

Ahhh, so cute. Buffs are my favorite. I hope to have some more one day.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

So stinkin' cute! I hope she grows up to produce beautiful eggs for you (assuming she's a hen!)

Tina T-P said...

Oh, boy, a new chick and new goats - what fun. Those Nigerian Dwarfs are really sweet. Good luck with them. T.

Leigh said...

Lisa we have really liked the Buffs too. They're the best dual purpose breed we've tried so far.

Janice, I'm hoping it's a hen!

Tina, thanks!

nancy said...

I'vd just awarded your blog the "One Lovely Blog Award"! Check my website on what you can do to pass it on and share some fun info! Congrats!

Sue said...

Leigh - as I understand it, the turkeys shouldn't be in with the hens (I did it last year, but my "bird" friend tells me I'm lucky I didn't lose them to blackhead). The turkeys are a hoot, very friendly. I'm going to put netting over one of my small goat pens for them, so they can scratch and graze.

Yeah, 50 is a lot, but since they weren't going to be cornish cross I could have slaughtered a few at a time for the freezer. oh well, next year.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

What a sweet story; hope all goes well.

Leigh said...

Nancy, I'm honored!

Sue, yeah, that's why we haven't gotten turkeys yet, though we have thought about maybe making a spot for them in the buck barn. As you say, there's always next year. :)

Sandra, thanks :)

aimée said...

The kitchen looks wonderful and the chick sounds very exciting!
This is quite tricky for me to explain, but when my family started raising chicks we didn't have any pet carriers so we modified the coop with a removable divider. We put two 1cm cube sticks of wood on opposite walls so that when we lifted the roof off we could slide a false wall between the two pieces of wood. There was a window in the false wall covered with wire mesh. The enclosed outside space was a wide shallow rectangle which we split with a wire screen with a wooden frame and didn't let the chick roam free.

Leigh said...

Aimee, thanks. What you describe is the kind of thing we need to be able to do. It may take rearranging the coop I'm thinking now. The way the roosts, entrance/exit ramp, nest boxes, feeder and waterer are now, there's no floor space to create a chick pen. I've been thinking we would need a whole new poultry house, but until then, maybe we can rearrange the one we've got now. Thanks for the input.