I have had great experience with incubating some eggs. I had the delight of having a duckling, a chick and then a batch of chicks.
With the first couple, I tried something new to me: I put them in with a companion. For the duck, this worked well, although I think the rooster and hen believe the duck belongs to them … and visa versa.
|Silkie hen with chick|
For the solitary chick I had hatch, I decided to see if I could get a hen to accept him, and she did. She seemed happy to be with him and took him on as her own. She protected him: He belonged to her right from the start.
I thought well, if it worked once, maybe it would work again. This time I had six little chicks hatch to my delight. I used my little Mini Brinsea incubator and all but one egg hatched successfully. The last egg was not fertile. Trying to be thrifty and save on electricity, I thought, “Why not try a hen with these chicks?” She would keep them nice and warm, and I wouldn’t have to run a brooder.
I tried full-size hens, Orpington, Ameraucana and a black Australorp (because the eggs had come from full-size chickens), and a Light Brahma Rooster. I thought a big hen would be better. These particular hens are not only known for good egg production but for being good mothers. Yet none of them wanted anything to do with these chirping little fuzz balls. I decided to go back to the younger hens because that’s where I got the silkie.
I had my choice of banties, silkies or cochins. As all these chicks had feathered legs, I decided to go with a beautiful, white cochin. She didn’t mind having them nestled right up to her and get right under her like she was their momma. They instinctively knew exactly what to do and so did she.
I don’t know if other people have tried this or if they have had success with trying to get a hen to adopt chicks. I’m sure that there are people out there that are way more experienced at raising chickens than I am. I wanted to share this experience just in case there was someone new out there that might enjoy the information. This isn’t an easy thing to accomplish.
I have been told that if you have a broody hen already sitting on eggs, you can sneak chicks in with her in the dark. That wasn’t the case. I didn’t have any broody hens and the full-size hens weren’t in the market for chicks and quickly rejected them, by pecking at them. I removed the hen quickly because I knew it wouldn’t work.
The unique thing to me is, neither of these hens were laying eggs, nor were they broody. Not only that, I didn’t put either hen in with them in the dark. I brought both hens in to the chicks with the light on and both hens graciously let the chicks cuddle right up to them.
The hens were both about 5 months old, yet they accepted these chicks and instinctively protected them and cared for them. Silkies and cochins are supposed to be good laying hens and good mothers, and this has proven to be the case.
This has been an experimental process, but it has worked out well for all of us. The chicks have all been healthy, and I haven’t lost any of them.
The added beauty of all of this was that my daughter left Nov. 17 for Navy boot camp, which was hard, and on Dec. 17, these little beauties started showing up.
It made my Christmas a little more bearable without my baby.
I was so happy that the little white cochin had accepted them, so that was also a bonus. The chicks hatched between Friday and Saturday and had a mom by Sunday evening. The white cochin didn’t have a name yet, but since she was so sweet and it was so close to Christmas, Angel was the most appropriate name I could give her, as she was all white and she was their guardian.