It has been a little crazy in the hatching world this last couple of weeks.
First, Sarah had a terrible hatch that was supposed to begin on the 16th, but didn’t start until the 20th and ended up with only 2 chicks successfully hatching out of 12 eggs. We were waiting to see what Eve’s hatch did to determine if Sarah was the issue (since she is a first-time inexperienced broody hen), or if it was an environmental issue.
Eve’s hatch went smoothly and on schedule. Which did help determine that it was likely Sarah’s inexperience that caused the issues. Eve hatched 3 out of her 5 eggs, which is lower than we hoped but not abnormal.
Unfortunately, both hens had one chick die, each within the first few days. We have learned that this is pretty normal. I don’t know the exact scientific reasons for it, but it seems that some chicks die in the first few days outside of the egg. A small degree of early death is a normal part of raising chicks.
This left us with Sarah only having one chick and Eve having two. We wanted to integrate the two Mama hens together with their babies into the Mama Hen Pen to raise their chicks. We did this successfully last year with Eve and Ruth. Unfortunately, Sarah was determined to kill Eve no matter what. Eve submitted to her and took her two chicks to the corner and just huddled in the corner, not bothering Sarah at all, and Sarah still continued to attack her. We realized that this living situation was not going to work out. And since it would be a waste of space, time, and resources to have Sarah set up in a separate area just to raise one chick, we decided to try to foster Sarah’s chick to Eve (since Eve is a proven Mama hen in our flock and has successfully raised chicks before) and put Sarah back in with the flock.
It worked wonderfully. Eve was happy to add the little chick in with her two and it only took a little while for the chick to begin responding to Eve’s voice. Sarah seemed no worse for the wear from the whole thing and settled right back in with the flock.
If Sarah wants to brood again we will likely give her one more chance, knowing we will probably have to house her separately from the other Mama hens. But if she isn’t successful in her next hatch she will not be allowed to brood again. We will still keep her around as a breeding hen as long as she continues to make it through the selection process because she is a very nicely built hen that meets our selection criteria.
So two hens and 18 eggs later…we have one hen raising three chicks. Always an adventure when you are homesteading!