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