On a whim I tried something new—letting our broody hens hatch some chicks!

Inspired by a friend down in California who snuck a few chicks under her broody hens, I came back from vacation and asked around about fertilized eggs. A friend was kind enough to share some from her mom’s farm.

Things I learned:

  • Chickens sit on their eggs for approximately 21 days, however it can take up to 25 days for the eggs to hatch.
  • When the chick pecks it’s first little hole it’s called “pipping” and once pipped, it can still take chicks up to 24 hours to fully emerge.

This was a low-investment, low-expectations project. So I was pleasantly surprised on Sunday when I went to go pull eggs and found two little peepers under our black sexlink hen. All together she has 3 littles peeping around her.

Our buff orpington has one little hatched and a few more eggs she is sitting on.

Were I to do this again, I would probably create a different nesting set up – something a little more spacious. I’ve spent a fair amount of time fretting about how the little chickees will get food and water while kicking it in the nest box.

After work yesterday one chick and the hen were on the ground, out of the nest box. I took that opportunity to take the other two out so the three chicks and hen are now living “on the main floor”. The buff and her one chicklet are still in a nest box, I’ve been dipping his beak in water every so often, just in case.

Fingers-crossed they are all ladies! Otherwise, they’re dinner!

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Chickens. Oh chickens. I’m an old-hat at chickens. I’ve been raising chickens for five years now. My first four I started in a half wine barrel on my back mudroom in a rental house. From that point on—my flock has expanded and contracted. I’ve had a dozen or more breeds, a dozen or more roosters to dispatch with, and enough catastrophe to toughen me up a little (raccoons, cats, dogs—everything kills chickens).


(My first chicken)

I used to write about those adventures, you can poke around through those moments here.

The fun thing that a farm would allow is a rooster. And that would allow: naturally occurring baby chickens. Aie! I have always wanted my girls to raise little babies. I want that moment.

So, let’s pretend I get a visit from the farm fairy and I wake up, and there are a set of keys under my pillow. I’d bring over my girls that I have. I think the current count is: 2 arucanas, 1 welsummer, 2 rhode island crosses, 1 blue banty, 1 favorelle, 1 plymoth rock, 1 partridge rock, 1 black australorpe—and one other nut that I haven’t figured out, she’s flighty.

I’ll bring them.
And then in the spring, I’d buy the following to establish my new flock:

It’s A LOT of birds. More than I want.
Twenty-twelve was a rough year for birds around my mini’stead so I think I am just going to always overbuy if I want to ensure I get what I want. What’s that mean? Oh  those birds up there? Some are going to die. And if they don’t, I’ll find nice homes for them. Young, raised, pullets are easy to get rid of.

It’s also good (for you) to know that, bantam chickens are only ever sold straight-run. Apparently miniature chicken vents (chicken-holes) are just too.damn.small for any chicken sexer (yep, that’s a thing) to poke around in with any success. I expect 12 bantams = 7 boys and 6 six ladies. Pare that down to one roo, for a total of 2 roos, and I think we can call it a day. Miniature chicken dinners.

Or dog food. (I mean really, stringy chickens? Sounds like decent dog food to me.)


(Me and my first chicken.)