Sometimes you just need a Momma.

Hi everyone, toward the end of my last post I mentioned that I had a broody hen Miss Katie. When I last left you she was sitting on a few ceramic eggs that I placed under her. In doing so I was hoping that she would adopt my chicks when they arrived. This was the first time that I had ever attempted adoption by a broody hen. I had done research on the topic but never actually attempted it myself. Well I am pleased to say that the adoption was a complete success, Miss Katie is thrilled to be a momma again. In this post I will detail my procedure which lead to this successful outcome.

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Miss Katie is the mamma hen of my flock of Buff Orphingtons. As far as she is concerned it is her calling in life to be a momma to as many chicks as possible. She loves to sit on eggs and loves even more to teach her little ones how to be a chicken. It all started about three weeks before my chicks were to arrive at my local post office. Miss Katie as years before went broody wanting nothing more than just to sit on her eggs. Given this opportunity I went ahead and let her sit on some ceramic eggs in the Bantom Boutique. If I could keep her in the broody mindset she just might adopt the chicks that were to arrive in a few weeks. So on a gamble I went ahead and let her sit. She was determined that she was going to sit so I just provided her a private space away from the other girls and gave her some eggs to tend for a few weeks.

Normally when a mother hen sits on eggs she will make this her life purpose till they hatch. Knowing that Miss Katie was sitting on fake eggs I wondered if she would accept a chick that did not hatch from one of the eggs under her. This is where some careful planning and luck came in to play.

When the chicks first arrived I placed one under her, she accepted the baby chick with no problems as if it was her own that she hatched. The following is my method which lead to this successful adoption.

  1. First when Miss Katie went broody I let her sit. Since I do not have a rooster any natural eggs that she was sitting on would eventually go bad which would cause her to abandon the nest. To avoid this I placed under her 4 ceramic eggs. They look, feel, and radiate heat just like a real chicken egg does. To her there was no difference.

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2. Next I placed her in a private space separate from the girls. Since the Bantom Boutique was ready for the new arrivals I went ahead and put some shaving and the eggs in this coop. She then made her nest the way she wanted. After that the rest was up to her.

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3. I made sure that she was sitting for at least 2 weeks before the chicks would arrive. A natural incubation time for a sitting hen is about 20-23 days. From the time that Miss Katie went broody to the time that the chick would arrive was 21 days. Given the time frame this would align perfectly to a natural hatch as seen by Miss Katie’s perspective. This would make sure that she was sitting and in the broody mind set for at least 2 weeks. This time also gave me a good indication that she was ready to sit for the term of the incubation period.

4. When the chicks finally arrived I placed them in my brooder inside. After their long trip I wanted to make sure that they were all healthy and had something to eat and drink for a few hours before I introduced them to Miss Katie.

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5. Since I was not sure if she would accept a chick that she did not hatch I chose just one chick to give to Miss Katie. When the chicks arrived I noticed that there was one chick that was a bit smaller than the others and was really struggling to eat and drink. This is the one that I chose to give to Miss Katie. I knew that if Miss Katie would accept this chick that it would do much better under and natural mother hen than in the brooder with the others.

6. Late at night, well after 10 pm when it was really dark and Miss Katie was asleep I made my approach. I took the chick, wrapped it securely in my hands and opened the coop. Miss Katie heard the chick and started clucking as she had in the past with the other chicks that he had raised. When I heard this I knew it was safe to try to place the chick under her. I placed the chick next to her, she immediately tucked it under her wing and was thrilled to be a momma again. Once I was sure that she had accepted the chick I took an egg from under her. In the morning all she knew is that there was one less egg and I chick under her. It was a complete success!! I was so excited that Miss Katie accepted the chick and she was ecstatic to be a momma again. Since this little chick was having a bit of problems with life giving it to Miss Katie was the best thing I could do for it. Within 24 hours she had it eating and drinking just like the rest of the chicks were doing in the house. She was able to help the little chick in a way that I could not. Sometimes you just need a momma.

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7. Now that this was a complete success I was sure that Miss Katie was all in on being a momma, so the next night I took the rest of the eggs. After about three days or so the momma hen will abandon the eggs that did not hatch. In order to encourage her to put all her efforts into raising this little chick I had to take the rest of the eggs. So once again after it was nice and dark I snuck out to the coop and took the rest of the eggs. As far as she was concerned they were just gone and now she could concentrate on raising her little one.

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Miss Katie has helped this little one out so much. If it was not for her I am pretty sure that it would have died. It was a lot smaller than the rest of the chicks in the brooder and was not eating or drinking well like the rest of them. Since it was struggling with life the others just seemed to run it over in their scampering around the brooder. For this reason I chose to give this chick and only this chick to Miss Katie. If I had given her the entire clutch of chicks she would have noticed that this one was struggling and as nature usually does she would have killed it. But since she had just this one chick and nothing else to compare it too she gave it her full attention and brought it around in a way that I could not. She is definitely my ally in the chick brooding department. This was a win, win, win situation. The chick survived, I am able to say that all the chicks that I ordered survived, and Miss Katie was able to live out her life mission, to be a momma. She has definitely lived up to her reputation as the momma hen of the flock.

I am so glad that this adoption was a success. The experience that I gained from the situation is very valuable. Yet again, this is one more thing that my girls taught me. Chickens are amazing creatures, I am privileged to care for a small flock of these magnificent wonders of nature.

Thank you for take a little time and dropping by, we are so glad that you did. Till next time take care and keep on crowing.

~ The Kuntry Klucker & Bantom Boutique Crew ~

 

 

Meet the “Bantom Boutique” Crew.

They are here!! Finally after months of preparing for the arrival of my dino babies they have arrived. Last November I placed my order of chicks from “My Pet Chicken”. They are a great outfit, very helpful, and very easy to work with. After reviewing their stock I selected 4 Silkie Bantom chicks and 4 White Crested Polish Bantom chicks. Ordering chicks is not quite like placing an order on Amazon. Your order does not arrive in 5-7 business days as most are accustomed to when ordering from websites. When you place an order of chicks it will be months before they arrive at your local post office. This means that you need to think about what breeds you want to order and plan for their arrival months from their order date. So, while waiting for the very slow 6 months to pass in anticipation of their arrival. I thought about the brooder set up that I needed and of course made sure that I had their backyard digs prepared. First let me tell you about their arrival.

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On May 8th my chicks were hatched at “My Pet Chicken’s” hatchery in Ohio. I planned for this hatch date when I order my dino babies, I wanted a summer hatch and arrival date. I received a notification of their hatching and a tracking number indicating they were on the way. The next day I anxiously awaited a phone call from my post office reporting that they made the over night trip to my local post office. Contrary to what some people believe, chicks are not literally delivered to your door. When they arrive at the post office you are notified of their arrival and pick them up at your post office. After much anticipation I received the phone call that would start my adventure with the Bantom Boutique crew. I waited in line at the post office and picked up my peeping package of chicks. I got a few intriguing looks from the other people in line behind me, but then again that is all part of the experience.

 

After I got them home, I opened up the box and verified that all 8 of my carefully ordered and packaged dino babies arrive safe and healthy. After their long trip they were indeed ready to stretch their wings, eat and drink. When a chick hatches they have about 3 days of yoke supply in their system which will provide them nutrition to survive their trip. Nature inguinselly designed this to allow a mother hen to tend to the chicks that have hatched while she waits for the other eggs to hatch. Not all eggs that a mother hen sits on will hatch at the same moment. If done right, the eggs may hatch in about a day or two of each other. This allows the first chick that hatched to survive without eating anything till its clutch mates make their entry into the world. For this reason, chicks are able to survive a 1 to 2 day trip in the mail without needing any food or water. However, once they get to their destination, they are ready to eat and drink. The first thing that I did when I got them home after verifying their trip was a success was to get their first meal at their new home prepared.

I poured their chick stater feed and their water into the brooder feeders. Before I placed the chicks in the brooder I put a layer of paper towel on top of the shavings. You see, the chicks are brand new at life, they do not know what to eat but they will instiinctively peck at anything.  A mother hen would teach her young chicks what to eat. Since I am acting as the mother hen I have to in a way also teach the chicks what to eat. To discourage them from thinking that the shaving are food and eating it, I scatter chick feed on top of the paper towel which they peck at and eat. This will teach the chicks that this is food and that it is located in the feeders. Later when I remove the paper towels they will eat their chick feed from the feeders and not consume the shavings. However, once I remove the paper towels and expose the shavings they have a blast scratching it in.

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After I have scattered their feed on top of the paper towels, I then have to teach them what waters is and where they can find it. So, once again I have to be the mother hen and show them what water is. To do this I take them one by one out of the box. Before I set them in the brooder I dip their beaks in the water. After their long trip they are thirsty and will be ready to drink. Once I set them down on the brooder floor and am confident that the chick understand where they can find the water I move on to the next chick and repeat the process. After all the chicks are in the brooder eating and drinking I then have to show them where their heat source is.

Traditionally heat lamps with high wattage bulbs were used in brooders. After many years of house fires and coop fires new technology was developed. For their brooder set up I bought a Ecoglow panel heater. Instead of blasting the chicks with a 500 watt red heat lamp bulb the Ecoglow heater mimics the mother hens heat. No only are heat lamps dangerous they keep the chicks lit up like a Christmas Tree 24/7. This is not good for chicks because often times the brooder gets too hot and messes with their carcidan rhythms. The Ecoglow panel heater keeps them warm while allowing them to wake and sleep naturally. However, since these little guys did not hatch under and mother hen I have to teach them where to go when they need a bit of a warm up. Once again I take them one by one and place them under the Ecoglow hearer teaching them where the heat is located. They get this rather quick and will run to and fro from the heat source as they find necessary.

Okay, now for the brooder. For my brooder I am using a puppy play pen. Most dog owners are familiar with the product. For the non dog owners among us this is the new way to keep your pooch out of trouble when you are traveling, at work, or overnighting in a hotel or at a friends/families house. They are cute, very portable, and enclosed. They are made of tough material all the while letting fresh air in while providing your pooch with plenty of space to move around. As a brooder this is perfect. It provides plenty of room for the growing dino babies, prevents them from flying out of the brooder when they get older, and due to the mesh sides keep the bedding material in the brooder as they scratch in the bedding. All in all this is the perfect product for a brooder. Since I do not use heat lamps the panel heater sits securely on the floor without the risk of a fire.

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Chicks grow fast, once I get them they are already a day old or more. After about 3 days they start to feather out loosing their downy fuzz most commonly associated with their appearance. So, as by tradition here at the Kuntry Klucker Farm I have to get baby pictures of all my chickens. Today was picture day! Here are a few pics from our photo session today.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the new members of the Kuntry Klucker Farm. The girls do not know of their existence yet. However, they will soon meet the Bantom Boutique crew. I have a broody hen, Miss Katie, who has been sitting on fake eggs. My intention is to see if she will adopt these little guys and raise them for me more naturally than what I can provide.

If the adoption is a success I will no longer need the brooder. If she does decides that she does not want to adopt these chicks I will be place them back in the brooder and will raise them by hand. I have done extensive research on this topic and have read many success stories. All in all it comes down to the broody hen. So we will see how this goes. This will be my first experience with attempts of adoption by a broody, I will report the results. Hopefully my next post will be about a successful adoption process.

As always, thanks for stopping by and keep on crowing.

~ The Kuntry Klucker & Bantom Boutique Crew ~