July 7, 2017

Mama Squabbles

About two weeks ago I told you about my four broody hens trying to occupy three nest boxes (along with any other hen who cared to lay an egg). The first two chicks were claimed by the first hen out of the nest. Over the next several days, we had one or two chicks hatch per day, until we ended up with eight chicks.


A second setter came off the nest quickly and adopted the remainder. All might have been well and good, but soon a third broody joined the group and tried to round up a few of the chicks as her own.


That did not go over with the first two Mamas and they started fighting over the chicks!


The chicks, of course, don't know any better and run to any hen who clucks at them to come.


Third Mama finally accepted her lower status and now simply follows the little crowd, tending to whatever chick she can.


The first two seem to be great buddies and are starting to tolerate the third hen as long as she keeps her distance.


The fourth broody hen remains vigilant on the nest. I took her off, removed all the unhatched eggs, and cleaned out the nest boxes, but she refuses to leave it, even with no eggs.


Such is life in the barnyard.

Mama Squabbles © July 2017 by Leigh

17 comments:

Mama Pea said...

We've got kinda the same situation going here. We have two ducks and one chicken sitting on two clutches of eggs on the chicken house floor! So far, 5 ducklings have hatched (just yesterday) and everyone is still sitting tight. Who knows what goes on in the minds of these birds!!

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, that is so true! They are a constant source of wonder and amazement. It's one of the joys of homesteading.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

It seems that everyone wants to be a mother! Interesting. I remember my parents had chickens for awhile as I was growing up but don't remember much about them. Nancy

Fiona said...

Hens are determined. We had three Australorpe hens raise 24 chicks last summer, Gang of Mom's!
Those chicks were super well cared for. A hawk was a problem at the time, the three hens would call the 'horde' at any sign of danger, form a tight triangle with the chicks under cover. They did this even as the chicks grew quite a lot bigger, it was amazing. Three hens, with all the chicks....sort of under them.

Wonderful news about your hens!

Sandy said...

Leigh,
What adorable little chicks! Thank goodness you have females willing to take care of the chicks. Could you imagine if not one helped out?
Enjoy the little ones :-)

Ed said...

I was too young when we raised chickens to realize that hens can't tell their chicks from other hen's chicks. Imagine if human ancestry was as confusing!

deborah harvey said...

is there still a chance of getting a few chicks at a feed store or neighbor to give to the unhappy hens??
you could get a kind you'ld like to have and see how they do as an experiment.

Leigh said...

Nancy, they certainly aren't predictable!

Fiona, that is so interesting. We've had individual mother hens chase hawks off. They puff themselves up as big as they can and charge! I lost a mama hen to a hawk one year, but her chicks were able to fend for themselves by that time.

Sandy, when I was first researching this breed (Australorps) I read mixed reports as to their broodiness and mothering qualities. I can report that they do just fine!

Ed, either they can't tell or don't care! LOL My goat kids sometimes have trouble identifying their moms too. I currently have 3 light brown does and the kids will often run up to any one of them and try to nurse. Not allowed unless it's the "real" mama goat.

Deborah, that's a good idea. Our feed stores usually carry chicks in April, but I could look around for some chicks on craigslist.

Chris said...

Aww, poor mamas. That's the way it floats sometimes, though. At least the chicks aren't left without a mama. :)

Leigh said...

Chris, there never fails to be an interesting development it seems. Team Mom is doing a good job of taking care of them. :)

Henny Penny said...

This is so cute! This is the first time in ages that we haven't had a hen trying to set. I suppose they are waiting until around Thanksgiving like last year. Sure hope not. The black chicks are adorable.

Leigh said...

Oh my, Thanksgiving would be so late in the year! Too cold for chicks! Sometimes I wonder about their internal clocks.

Goatldi said...

Super cute! The more moms the better. Imagine growing up with three mothers ? A poor chick could never get away with any!

Quinn said...

I only wish ONE of my hens was hatching and raising chicks! As it stands, I'm now running a retirement home for Formerly Employed Poultry.

Rain said...

Your Hen Tales are interesting Leigh! These are things you don't think of when you're a beginner!

Kelly said...

Aww... I kinda feel bad for hens #3 and #4!

We had a cow that (the best we can tell) rolled on top of her newborn, crushing it. She walked around for weeks mooing for that calf. Broke my heart. We had a disturbing buzzard incident recently, too. But as you said... such is life on the farm.

Leigh said...

Goatldi, the chicks seem to love all the attention! :)

Quinn, that would be worse than having too many broody hens!

Rain, this is the fun of having animals. You learn something new all the time! Always interesting and entertaining.

Kelly, oh no! That would be a heartbreak. I've know people to have baby goats drown in water buckets, so I'm always concerned about that. It's true thought, it's just life.