Tag / chick integration

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

The Mini-Chickens Emerge

Feathers, Fifi, Dottie Speckles and Dolly

The mini-chickens, Dottie Speckles a 5 week old Silver Laced Wyandotte and Fifi, a Silkie Bantam, have now been with the big girls for 3 days.  Over the last two days, they have spent most of their time inside of the nesting box with Dolly.  However, by last night, it seems as though Dolly and Feathers have agreed to co-mother the mini-chickens.  Today for the first time they journeyed out into the run.

Dolly hovers around them while they scratch and peck in the dirt.  No one seems to care the least that the mini-chickens are in the family now.  I put some fresh vegetables out in the run to serve as a distraction.  I think it is working!  I can’t wait to see where they will end up in the pecking order.  I am looking forward to a great summer with my henny girls!

Photo Credit:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Growing Pains

The transition of the little ones into the larger coop has gone okay.  I can’t say that it has been entirely perfect but there has been no blood shed and Dolly is a natural mother.  A couple of days ago, under the cover of darkness, I placed both Fifi and Dottie Speckles under Dolly.  Little did I realize how upset broody Feathers was going to be.  I’ve now come to realize that she is jealous of Dolly having mini-chickens.  Thus she is not too nice.

A few times per day, I find myself having to empty the coop and give the babies time to eat alone without Feathers preventing them from doing so.  Just now, I opened the box to find the babies, Feathers and Dolly sitting in the same box with the mini-chickens panting beneath the two Momma hens.   I had to intervene and allow the mini-chickens some air.  I can’t tell if Feathers wants part of the motherhood action or if she wishes the mini-chickens were dead!  Nonetheless, with a few sips of water, the panting immediately subsides and the mini-chickens go about their business. 

As time goes on, I am hoping that the little girls will become large enough to defend themselves. Today is better than the day before; at least the mini-chickens are not trying to escape!  As the chickens reestablish their pecking order and the mini-chickens realize their place in their new world, the flock will hopefully plateau off into a peaceful existence.  For now, Dolly growls and spreads her wings as a protective mom should.  I find it amazing that she has taken these chickens literally under her wings despite the fact that they are 8 and 5 weeks old!

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Dottie Speckles

Ever so tiny

Here she is!  The kids want to call her “Dots” for short.  She is now two days old and I could not have asked for a better outcome.  Yesterday, continued to be a day of getting to know each other.  Interestingly, I have noticed a difference with chicks hatched by a mother hen vs. an incubator.

While Dolly, brooded over her eggs last month, I would often find her talking to them, touching them, rocking them and rolling them.  It seems as though the babies knew Dolly long before they met her in person.  Once the babies hatched, they all spoke the same language.  When Dolly told them to eat, drink and let out a warning signal, all of the babies seemed to know just what to do.  She is a fantastic mother; incredibly careful and tender with all of her babies.

I have gorgeous legs!

Right from the start, it was clear to me that Dottie Speckles had no idea who Dolly was, nor did she have any idea what a mother hen was.  In the hatchery, she never felt or heard her Mother’s touch.  Instead she heard the whirring of the heating fans and felt a machine tilt her from side to side in a methodical timed fashion.

Last night before bed, I checked on everyone in the garage.  All were sleeping.  Dottie Speckles was sleeping amongst and closely nestled into her new found siblings’ warm little bodies.  Usually, a day old chick would normally sleep underneath their mother.

This morning, I awoke and checked on the chicks.  Everyone was happy and alive.  Dottie Speckles was pipping and popping all over the place with a smile in every step that she took!  As I was changing out the feeder and waterer,  I purposefully tried to go in and grab Dottie Speckles when she was right in front of Dolly.  Dolly pecked me!  I was overjoyed, this could only mean that Dolly has accepted Dottie Speckles as one of her own.

I quickly finished my business and sat quietly in front of the brooder watching Dolly and the chicks’ interaction.  Dolly settled down on the floor of the brooder surrounded by her chicks.  Then, Dottie Speckles went over to Dolly’s wing.  She curiously and gently tugged on a feather of Dolly’s wing.  Dolly lifted up her wing and Dottie Speckles in turn tucked herself into the space between Dolly’s wing and her body.  I was so touched and overcome with emotions.  I have learned many things about life from our chickens.  Today, Dolly reminded our family of tolerance and acceptance for those that are different.

Speckled feathers adorn my face. They look like freckles to my human family.

Chickens Stories from Our Nest

Shopping

Today I ventured to the local feed store to pick-up more food for the ever growing baby chicks.  They are eating so much lately, almost a pound per day.  So, on this drizzly and foggy Cape Cod morning, I went on my way.  When I arrived, I knew that it was going to be instant temptation.  Our local feed store has been getting weekly deliveries of baby chicks.  Everytime I go into the store, I find myself resisting my chicken addiction.  However, this time there was no escaping meeting the newest member of our flock.

I was good at first. I went over and picked up the food and supplies.  I even was standing at the checkout counter.  Then, I glanced over at the divided brooder.  It had some Jersey Giants left from the previous week and the other two sections were filled with Silver Laced and White Laced Wyandottes.  Uh oh; I have always wanted a Silver Laced Wyandotte.  I watched them eat, drink and sleep.  I had to have one.  After about 10 minutes of watching the chicks, I picked out the most adorable girl with a freckled face.  She was worth the every penny of the her five dollar cost.  They boxed her up and soon enough, I was heading home with chick food and a new chick!

Every chicken expert says, do not mix chicks of various ages.  Today, was going to be my experiment.  If worse came to worse,  I could always separate the group with chicken wire.  I took the chick’s Mom, Dolly, out to the large run and coop with the rest of the flock.   I opened the new box and placed it under the heat lamp.  Next, I grabbed Percy Peepers from the brooder.  I figured, Percy was about the same size as the day old chick and did not have much of an advantage with his bad leg.  I watched their interaction; no aggression.  In fact, they were snuggling after about 3 minutes.

I removed the rest of Dolly’s chicks into another separate box, cleaned the brooder, refilled the waterers and feeder and returned all of the chicks, including the new one to the brooder.  I sat and watched.  The new chicks definitely recognized the new girl as not being an original chick.  They were at first scared and cautious.  I gave them some scratch as a distraction.  Soon enough, they were ignoring her.  Our new little chick on the otherhand, journeyed closer to the heat lamp to take a nap; so far, so good.

I went and retrived Dolly who did not want to return to the brooder.  She was busy taking a dust bath.  When she entered the coop, she soon realized that there was a new little baby amongst her brooder flock.  All of the original chicks were standing behind Dolly seeking protection from the newbie.  Dolly gently pecked at the baby.  It just stood there.  As if nothing ever happened, Dolly and the chicks moved on and went about business as usual.  I sat and watched for 40 minutes.  Everything seemed fine.  After all of the  morning excitement everyone decided to take a nap.  The new chick nestled close to Dolly, not underneath, but in front.  Everyone, including Dolly, closed their eyes. 

I am optimistic that this transition will go smoothly.  I will continue to closely watch and intervene for the little chick as need be. I am excited to have a new little chick amongst the ever growing teenage chicks now.  They are goofy looking as patches of real feathers emerge.  Soon enough, our new little Silver Wyandotte will be bigger than the Silkies.  As she is a standard breed, she will grow at a much faster rate.  I will never claim to be a chicken expert.  I will never know as much as my fellow chicken keepers. I am only a novice with a big space in my heart for chickens. However, even experts can be wrong.

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