August 22, 2016

Lone Baby Chick

A couple weeks ago I told you about Mama 'Lorp and her three baby chicks. I had a second Australorp setting as well, so I was curious as to how many she would hatch. Well, after sitting on her clutch of eggs for several weeks she suddenly switched to the nest box next door. At least we thought it was her; could have been a different hen next door with the original setter out for a breather. We kept an eye on the nest, but the one hen remained in the box next to it, and the eggs appeared abandoned.

The next morning Dan came in from chicken chores to tell me he'd heard a frantic peeping from the abandoned nest box. Sure enough, one lone egg had hatched and there was one tiny baby chick in the nest crying for its mama. I tried to pop the chick under next-door mama but got a good stout peck for my efforts. Trouble was, she pecked at baby chick too. I poked it under her anyway, but worried for the rest of the day that she might kill it.

That night I went into the coop with a flashlight, picked up the setting mama hen, and found the little chick still alive. I removed it and put it under the 3-chick hen. I got a peck for that effort as well, but figured since chickens can't count she'd be none the wiser in the morning.

Shortly after the chickens had gone out the next morning I heard desperate peeping from inside the coop. New baby chick didn't know to follow the others outside and was stranded! This got Setting Mom clucking, so I tried to put Baby under her again. This time she moved to the next nest box. Poor baby peeped its little head off!

While I was standing there thinking that I did not want to raise a lone chick under the brooder lamp, Setting Mom went back to baby chick's nest and settled down to keep him warm. Was this success?

A couple days later she abandoned the nest altogether and took to mothering lone baby chick.




She was a long time in taking him outdoors, but once she did, she and 3-Chick Mama started hanging out together. The two hens and four chicks are always together, so that the babies seem to have two mothers. The chicks know which is which, however, and go to their own hatch mother at night.

I love happy endings.

Lone Baby Chick  © August 2016 

19 comments:

  1. Unfortunately our lone chick met with an unfortunate end. The other chickens pecked it to death while mama was fighting off the other hens. Next time they well all be in a separate broody area and run.

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    1. That is so sad. We have had problems in the past as well, even with a separate broody area and run. (Is this a good time to plug Critter Tales? LOL) Hopefully it will be successful for you! Flock integration is a mystery and a lot seems to depend on the rooster.

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    2. Leigh, As good as time as any. It was the first time one of our hens went broody and we weren't prepared.

      Flock integration so far hasn't been a problem. Our rooster accepts all. But the top hen and her second...well, that's another story.

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    3. Sounds like you have a good rooster JoAnn, but it's true, individuals can vary greatly. Hopefully your preparations this time will result in success. There's nothing cuter than baby chicks running around. :)

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  2. Wow. Between canning, garden and occasional mothers you are one busy lady! Glad to hear a happy ending.

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    1. It's that time of year! Really looking forward to a winter's rest!

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  3. Chickens are ornery things aren't they :D

    P.S. Don't know why your screen is freezing when you visit my blog - nothing has been added to / changed on the side panel.

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    1. Dani, I have no idea about the browser freezing either. I use Chromium for blogging (a version of Chrome) and I know it's outdated so that I can't get support for it anymore. I'm preparing to get a new computer up and running, so that should fix all my browser woes (Firefox crashes constantly and it's not outdated.)

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  4. Leigh,

    Stubborn chicken! Hopefully, she'll continue to take care of her single chick.

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    1. Sandy, so far so good. It's great fun to see the two mother hens herding their chicks together. They both respond to all of them, feed all of them, offer warmth to all of them, but then at night they break up into their separate "families."

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  5. Our lone chick...after much house pampering has turned into a lovely young hen....okay my attempt at sexing said it was a rooster.....she still sleeps in her "bag o shavings" in the house, but every morning Ralph opens the door and she marches out into the real world! At night the process is reversed.
    We have had 3 Australorpe's go broody this past week and we will see how they do. The record here is a Buff who hatched 14 (now down to 12). All of ours have been solid mothers with their own chicks and firm but not dangerous with other hens chicks.
    Chicks Are Such fun!

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    1. Fiona, you have a house chicken! That's so cute.

      I'm glad to hear you have broody 'lorps. That was a concern when I first got mine. Our 3-chick mama is quite a fighter! Dan observed her attack a swooping hawk who was aiming for one of her chicks. Except for 1-chick mama, no other chicken, duck, or cats dares get near. (Humans are okay because they bring food!)

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  6. the secret lives of chickens... fascinating!

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    1. Renee, they never cease to amaze and entertain.

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  7. I like those happy endings too. What a cutie. The chances of it being a boy, are high. Since those who hatch from an abandoned nest, always seem to be boys. Maybe it's the extra vigour to push out of the shell, in time?

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    1. Chris, I didn't know that, but I think this is the first time we've actually had a nest abandoned like that. But you're probably correct about that extra vigor. It will be interesting to see what develops.

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  8. Ah, chickens. The average American knows nothing about how chickens live in a yard. They will tell you how horrible life is in a battery cage but they don't know how hard and dangerous their lives can be in a barnyard! Every day is fraught with peril. It takes a LOT to grow up as a chicken!!

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  9. That is a great happy ending, that warmed my heart reading it!

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  10. Aww, how sweet. Well done to you for persevering until you got the chooks sorted out :)

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