Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The great outdoors

Yesterday was a big day for the chicks hatched by the two broody hens - they began their acquaintance with the great outdoors.

The sun was shining and the temperature was climbing, so Kim got the chicken tractor set up with a wind cover over half, a heat lamp, and one of her newly built double nest boxes. Then we transferred the two mamas and their chicks from the special coop enclosure where they have been living, to outside. We thought there might be at least a brief period of adjustment, but the mamas immediately began making their "come get some food" clucks and demonstrating how to peck at the ground for grass and bugs, and before we could even get the camera focused those chicks were busy at work.

The parenting instincts of our broody hens are an amazement to us. Without having been raised by a mama hen themselves, they somehow know just what to do. They sat on the eggs, hatched the chicks, kept them warm, showed them what to eat and how to drink, defended them even from Kim, who has the bloody pecks on her hands to prove it. They didn't have to take a course, or read a book. And the fact that they are doing it together, sharing the chicks and the chick-raising duties, is a continuing delight to us.

Hatching eggs in an incubator is really, really cool. But watching these hens and their chicks is magic.



Rae said...

That is awesome! I hope I have the same success with the clutch my Bellina is sitting on. Love Buffs!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

I love those deep clucky sounds coming from the mamas!
It is a special experience, isn't it? Seeing them do what they simply know how to do... be good mamas! What fun.

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

It IS magic - I totally agree!

Is it that we are so removed from things that watching nature just do her thing astounds us?

When I had my baby (home birth) I was in shock at what my body did to birth that child, and how it adjusted afterward. If left alone, things just run their course, don't they!

I moved out chicks outside, too - in a tractor, with a wind cover on half and heat lamp. It's fun to watch them discover dirt.

Paula said...

So Miriam- do you think you'll always do it that way going forward? Letting the hens do it, I mean?

Miriam said...

We're not sure yet - my best guess is that we will continue to do both. We're really interested to see how manageable the hen-raised chicks turn out to be, because they are getting much less human handling than the incubator chicks. If that works out okay, we'll probably try both again next year.

Holly House said...

My heart, she me melts. This is so, so adorable! Aaaaagh!

Anonymous said...

And some people wonder why we raise chickens.

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