Saturday, June 30, 2012

Chicken Mama

One of our buff orpington hens became broody in March. She carefully tucked herself on top of a clutch of eggs in the upper part of the barn not realizing Vermont weather is not conducive to raising chicks with just a mama's body heat in March. I snagged the eggs and carried her back to the coop and she often would try again.  At the beginning of June she tried again on a clutch of mostly Welsummer eggs.  I was hoping this clutch would hatch as I was curious what Welsummer/Araucana chicks would look like and what color the eggs would be.  (Our Welsummers lay terra cotta colored eggs with a speckling of darker brown spots).  The Buff was again unsuccessful, I am not sure if it was the dogs disturbing her or if the Welsummer adding an egg each day. About two weeks ago the buff hen left the hay loft and ventured down the stairs and to her amazement she found her chicks.  The brooder was holding our Freedom Ranger meat chicks that arrived in the mail toward the end of May.  The buff immediately began making all the great noises a momma chicken makes, she clucked and scratched when grain fell to the ground outside the brooder and protected the brooder from the dogs and the boys.  One day when the brooder was open while I feed the chicks she hopped up in happy to not longer be separated by the brooder wall.  She embraced watching out for her 150 chicks making reaching in to feed or water them a careful balance.

At the beginning of this week Mike finished one of the three new chicken tractors we will use for the meat birds.  As I began carry the chicks outside to their new residence the hen was super protective.  After she bit my arm, I snagged her and shut her into the coop.  Two at a time I carried the 150 plus chicks outside and then let the hen out.  The next morning she found her babies and I let her in the portable pen with them.  She continues to happily stand watch over her really big brood.