At milking time I saw one chick head, a few hours later, there were two. That night I slipped the mail order chicks into the nest. Not exactly under Mama, but next to her and behind her. All I could do after that was pray she wouldn't be the wiser.
The next morning....
It is with great relief that I can announce all is well.
I haven't gotten in for a really close look, but it appears she hatched two of the original eight eggs I gave her. I had to remove extras a few times from buttinski hens who pushed Mama out of the way to lay their eggs. There were ten the last time I was able to check. In a day or so I'll remove the unhatched eggs.
[UPDATE: 11:30 a.m. While removing the leftover eggs and shell remnants, I discovered one more chick. At first I thought it hadn't made it, but when I picked it up, it cheeped! Its feet were bound up in the sac, so that it couldn't free itself. It was cold so I brought it into the house, dipped its beak several times in water, and put it in a box under the heat lamp. It's a hardy little thing but having trouble standing properly, perhaps from being in a "squashed" position for so long. Perhaps we can give it a fighting chance.]
[2nd UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. It appears Mama hatched all 8 eggs! I counted 7 yellow chicks in her brood, along with the greys and browns. One, however, has some stripes, so likely it's only half Buff Orpington.]
It's interesting that these mail order chicks, Silver Laced Wyandottes and Speckled Sussex, have stuck close to Mama. When I did this before, with Buff Orpingtons, they were out and about from first light, every chick for themselves. Breed personality, perhaps?
Introducing the mail order chicks is a big hurdle and I'm relieved it worked out well. The next hurdle will be integrating all the chicks into the flock. Hopefully everyone will grow well and the next transition will go smoothly.
[UPDATE: 8.00 a.m. 21 June. My little chick appears to be doing very well. It's legs are still weak, but it's walking around, eating, drinking, and peeping. I honestly didn't think it would make it. Now I wish I'd taken a before shot, but at the time it wasn't something I wanted to remember: stiff, cold, hunch backed, legs straight out, one wing bent, with tiny down feathers plastered to bare red skin. It chirped so pitifully when I tried to move its legs that I thought one of them was broken. The wing too. It's a remarkable recovery. Hopefully it will be getting around well enough that I can put it with the others tonight.]
[UPDATE: 8:30 A.M. 22 June. Success! For details and a photo, click here.]
One Big Happy Chicken Family © June 2013