The Buckeye chicks that our broody hen hatched are now 10 days old, and three of the chicks have survived. It’s fascinating to watch mother hen raise the chicks – I thought raising day-old chicks was great (see Raising Day-Old Chicks), but watching how she handles it is even better.
The chicks hatched in the broody box in the coop (see Building a Broody Box), but we then moved them into the Eglu coop set-up within the chicken pasture. We weren’t sure how much protection the little peeps would need from the larger chickens; so we separated them into their own coop and small run – yet they’re still in the same pasture so everyone stays acquainted.
Mother hen has been very attentive to her chicks from the minute they hatched, always seeing that they are getting food and water; and learning chicken ways. In the morning, she calls them out of the coop at daylight to go searching for food.
When she finds a promising patch of ground, she scratches and calls the chicks over to feed.
The chicks are very attentive to what mother hen is doing too – unlike the day-old chicks that we raised, they practically ignore the feeder – they’re only interested in following mom around and eating or drinking what she tells them too.
Mother hen also supervises bedtime, in early evening she heads for the coop and calls the chicks to her.
They follow her in and settle in beneath her feathers – there’s nothing cuter than little peeps peering out at you from underneath mom!
There are seven more eggs beneath broody hen #2 in the broody box; so we’re anticipating that we’ll let these peeps join the main flock when broody #2′s chicks hatch. That should be in about 10 more days, and it’s going to be hard to let these chicks out of the comparative safety of the Eglu coop - they seem so small and those other chickens seem so large.
The mature chickens haven’t made any attempts to harm them through the Eglu fencing; however, I worry about how they’ll fair in the big coop at night. But I guess mother hens have been hatching chicks for centuries; and they’ve managed to survive – so I should just let mother hen do her job – she seems to be doing great so far!