Hens Raising Chicks - 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Start



That first little 'peep peep' from under the wing of your favorite hen, a chick the hen hatched, is something you'll never forget.

That sweet little face is the culmination of the hours and days and weeks that you've put into raising your backyard flock.  In our case, my son strangely knew exactly which of our 14 girls would be the first broody hen - it would be Lucky Wattles, he said, and he would name the first baby 'Pip'.  And so it was.

The Benefit of Broody Mamas

I wasn't sure I wanted to raise chicks this year.  Our hens are only slightly more than a year old and because they're pretty happy and healthy, we've likely got another year or so before their egg production begins to drop off (or so all the books say).  So when suddenly it was May and my son asked if we were still going to raise a small batch of chicks this year, I cringed a little.  No, a lot.  Not only do we not have room for a big brooder, but the idea of having to deal with thermometers and washing water founts every day made me want to run back to the city.  Well, not really, but you get the picture.

Now, conveniently, we had two hens go 'broody' right around that time.  I have to admit that I didn't do a lot of research - it was one of my rare 'dive right in' moments.  We stopped collecting eggs for a couple of days, crossed our fingers that some of them were fertilized courtesy of our big Buff Orpington rooster, and hoped for the best.

21 days later, we had our first chick.  A day later, another 2 sweet little fluffballs.  All tolled, we ended up with 6 live chicks from 14 eggs between the two hens - 2 babies died when their eggs were broken before they were ready to hatch, and the rest either didn't develop fully or weren't fertilized in the first place.

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