We’ve had two broody hens for over a month and a half. So broody for so long that I bought a dozen fertilized eggs to see what would happen and give these hens a chance to be mamas. We have five chicks! Exciting!!!!
I bought the fertilized eggs on Tuesday, April 6, and all the articles say it takes 21 days +/- for the eggs to hatch. Today, Friday, April 30 is day 25, and we had a chick hatch this morning.
Funny story, two days ago, (day 23), I convinced myself that the hatching period was done. Goldie hatched one chick and was still sitting on 3 eggs. I took out the eggs and tossed them on our green waste compost pile. The woman who gave me the eggs has been keeping in touch and providing advice, she said to candle the eggs first. I decided to put the three eggs back under Goldie; they were only left on the compost pile for 15 minutes. Well, low and behold 2 of the 3 eggs hatched! They are my little compost chicks!
Goldie is in rough shape from the nesting period, 25 days. I did have to carry a hen out of their nests in the hen house every day so they would get some food and water and take a dust bath, about 15 minutes before they’d get upset, and I’d carry each one back. For four days, Goldie’s left eye was shut, but opened on the day her first chick hatched. She has a runny nose and is sneezing occasionally. She is too light weight and needs to gain weight. I am amazed at the dedication of broody hens. In my opinion, they would have died on the nest, never leaving to eat or drink.
Our first hen to hatch chicks is Georgie. I was able to get Georgie into a big cat carrier to sit on her eggs inside the hen house to separate the two hens. It also made it more safe as the nine other chickens were let inside at night. One of Georgie’s chicks hatched on day 20 and the other hatched on day 21. She was sitting on 3 eggs whereas Goldie was sitting on 4 eggs, and 2 other ones broke early on. These hens are bantams, but the eggs are “normal” size chicken eggs so I wonder if that makes a difference meaning less body heat the more eggs underneath (longer to hatch?)
I had various ideas of how to set up the back coop space for the two hens. At first, I was going to just integrate them. Then, I thought of splitting the space with straw bales. Finally, this morning, I removed the four worm bins, dust bath tire, and dragged the large nesting box bin to divide the space. I stuffed hay in any cracks and used the cat carrier as a divider as well. Goldie has jumped over, but she doesn’t bother Georgie and her chicks.
I am feeding them medicated chick starter, scrambled eggs, and oatmeal. The hens have a variety of food as well. Their probiotic drink mix started in jar lids with “marbles” to prevent drowning, but the chicks are a bit larger now. They are locked up in the cat carriers at night, and it was recommended to use peppermint oil on cotton balls to keep out rats. I’m assuming as they get older, they’ll jump the nesting box and integrate which will be fine. The other girls are very curious to see what I’m doing and very noisy when I’m in the back feeding them.
It’s super fun to watch the interactions between the moms and chicks, so different than buying a chick and putting it under a heat lamp. I’m not holding these babies yet, I will wait until they are larger. We will not be keeping any roosters because they will be too big for the bantams. Pam will take them back to her flock.