May 17, 2015

New Babies With No Mama

16 Black Australorp chicks

My baby chicks are here! I picked them up early Friday morning at the post office. Their arrival was meant to coincide with the 21 day mark for a broody hen. Alas, she abandoned her post after about two weeks, but the chicks were on their way nonetheless.

This is the first time I've hand raised chicks since our very first batch. Since then we've both allowed our hens to hatch some of their own eggs, and also grafted baby chicks onto them. We've done that because we simply haven't settled on a breed. I would like to keep a flock of purebred heritage breed chickens, but finding the ones we like best has been a bit of a challenge.


Right now the chicks are residing under a heat lamp in the pantry. Without a mama hen to run interference it will be challenging to introduce them to our adult birds. Chickens are rather ruthless when it comes to establishing the pecking order. My hens are all older birds so it may be time to retire most or all of them. Perhaps I should stock up on eggs and do just that.

33 comments:

Erika Keller said...

Stuck in the same boat here raising our chicks in the outhouse. But they sure are cute. We cycle out our chickens yearly. We get 3-4 chicks in the spring, when they start laying we butcher the older girls. We put the chicks in a pen inside the chicken run for a few days when they are about 8 weeks old. This tends to keep the jockeying for pecking order to a minimum for us. But it sure is nicer if mama hen takes care of all that!

Mama Pea said...

Our broody mama bantam hen would take them all in a heartbeat!

The Black Australorps are fast becoming our favorite breed. Hope you like them, too. They've laid really well for us even through our long, cold winters. Plus they're a "chunkier" bird once they end up in the stew pot. One drawback? We've never had one go broody. But as long as we keep our broody bantams, we'll get by. :o]

Melanie said...

Australorps are my favorite so far, too.

We just integrated our new pullets with the hens, and it went smoothly this year, and by that, I mean no one died! We closed off half the run for two weeks and sequestered the pullets but still allowed them to be seen by the hens. After a few days, they didn't seem fussed about them. Hope all goes well for your new flock of chicks.

tpals said...

I've never tried to match the 21 days broody for an adoption. I take the 'Tadah! It's a miracle!' approach that the imaginary eggs they weren't on have produced magic chicks. My hens may just be desperate for motherhood though; I had one try to adopt the fully feathered teenage chicks when I introduced them to the coop (and she wasn't broody).

Harry Flashman said...

My chicks have a high attrition rate even when the mom's stay with them. The other chickens kill them at every opportunity.

The Homestead Lady said...

I have several heritage breeds but my all time favorite is the delaware and it's on the endangered list... I love doing my part to keep this absolute beautiful bird alive! They are docile and so very graceful. The bring a special beauty to the barnyard!

Leigh said...

Erika, that's exactly how we try to do it. I figure I can keep egg production predictable with both older and younger hens. I plan to move the chicks into the coop eventually, in a fenced off area. Here's hoping for good results like you've had.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, I appreciate the feedback, plus you've answered a question in my mind, i.e. about broodiness. Maybe I'll have to keep a few bantams around just for that. :)

Leigh said...

More great feedback. Thanks Melanie. My very first chickens (4 breed flock) had a rooster that would not accept any new chicken, be it cockerel or pullet. He had to go. No rooster now, so we'll see what happens.

Leigh said...

That's pretty interesting about the adoption. I'm hoping for something like that too. :)

Leigh said...

Wow, Harry. Do you think it's because you have such a large chicken population? They may know they're maxed out. OTOH, there are stories that run the gamut, and there's no telling which way the ball will bounce.

Leigh said...

For our very first chickens (the other ones I raised by hand) I got 6 Delawares, 6 Ameraucanas, 6 Welsummers, and 6 Barred Hollands. Unfortunately there was only one pullet in the Delawares, the rest were cockerels. That's not exactly a good enough sampling to make a call, but for some reason I never thought to try and get more. They are a beautiful bird.

Renee Nefe said...

Perhaps formerly broody mommah might decide she wants to raise these beautiful chicks. LOL okay, maybe not. wishing you best of luck with the newbies.

Fiona said...

Ralph has had wonderful success with Black Australorpe being broody and wonderful mothers. They are his ALL TIME favorite chicken! My mother swore by Silver Laced Wyandottes.

Renovation in Galicia said...

We have just had our first hatch of the season from the incubator, although we have three broody hens at the moment the weather is more like March than May so they will go under the electric hen. Still not too sure of the total number but a mixture of Buff Orpington's, La Bresse, and Black Marans.
It looks as though our poor duck, Daffy has failed again, so we have to hope for a good hatch from the other incubator.

Nancy po said...

After ours were about 8-10 weeks (I think) we put them out adjacent for about 5 days, they could see but not touch. We took the fence down one day and I waited with bated breath. Nothing, nada, all right in the world! They all adjusted fine. But we also had a small flock, 3 with 3 new added... I really have had good luck with Amber Whites, Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Buff Orps, Hampshire Reds...

Leigh said...

tpals has had that happen so there's hope!

Leigh said...

So sorry to hear about Daffy. Glad to hear there's still hope.

I don't have an incubator so I'm not at all familiar with that. I definitely like a mama hen better than a heat lamp because the chicks can run around a bit and then run under mama to warm up.

Leigh said...

Nancy, i'm getting several comments with similar experiences so I'm hopeful that will be our case as well!

Farmer Barb said...

There is safety in numbers. With that many REALLY BIG pullets, the bossy stew hens will have to accept them...or else! I agree with the letting them trash talk through wire for at least two weeks if there is a difference of opinion. Then I let the bossy bird be the one outside of the chicken tractor so she could yell at them from all sides. Usually there is one pullet who thinks she can take over. It is over in one day. Things get shaken up every time someone dies. It is worse if a predator does it because they all see it.

Quinn said...

Sorry to say, I've had no luck with introducing day-old chicks to broody hens, and after several attempts over the years, gave up on mixing age groups until the youngsters were nearly as big as the older birds. But I think my tolerance for thuggery may be on the low end of the spectrum.
If "retire" means "eat," then I think that is the way I would go in your position. After stockpiling eggs to last til the pullets start laying.

Sandy said...

Leigh,

You maybe better off raising those chick until their teenagers in another pen, then gradually introducing them. Good luck!!

Leigh said...

That's a good idea Barb. Now I just have to figure out which is the #1 hen! They're all Buff Orpingtons so they all look a like. :)

Leigh said...

Quinn, that's exactly it about retire.

I seems that there is no predictable pattern for chickens. Some folks have an easy introduction, others don't. Too bad I can't figure out the magic combination.

Leigh said...

Sandy, I'll need it!

Karen@ onthebanksofsaltcreek.com said...

I would like to add a few each year as replacements. I wondered about the young ones with the older ones. You have made me think that allowing one or two chickens raise their own might just be best.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I put my young ones in a pen near the older hens and gradually introduce them. It helps if there is plenty of room and that they can scurry back to their pen for safety. if need be.
I have LOTS of broodys and have been taking the eggs out from under them in an effort to stop them brooding as we don't need any more hems. I wish I could send you a couple!
Gill

Michelle said...

Best of luck with these little ones. I have always raised them myself. Never had a hen momma!

Leigh said...

Karen, I've been fortunate to have success, but others tell different stories. One thing I think is key is the rooster. You can read some of our experiences with roosters here. No rooster this time, so we'll see what happens!

Leigh said...

I'd take 'em! You have Buffs, am I correct? They do have that broody tendency, don't they? I'm going to see about setting up a pen in the chicken coop, maybe with a creep of some sort for when I let them mingle.

Leigh said...

Michelle, it's honestly easier with a mama hen, she does all the work for you!

Lynda D said...

Fancy that, flying the flag for a good ole Aussie chicken breed. They are very common here, bred for eggs and the table.

Leigh said...

It was that world record egg layer that made them so popular. :) But judging from the comments, they earned their popularity on their overall breed merits. Here's hoping the do well on our homestead. I'm reader for a keeper of a breed!