2 Hens – 5 Eggs – How Many Babies?
When the last egg was laid, the count was 5. They were all brown eggs so they all belonged to Red but Gray was sitting on them as if they were hers. Occasionally one of the hens would get up for a short time and walk around outside but for the most part, there were 2 hens in the nest. The 5 eggs should be plenty warm with 2 mamas and extremely warm temperatures both day and night. But the question remained - would we see baby chicks? We should have our answer in about 3 weeks.
3 weeks later . . .
Joe decided to take a peak under the hens Friday morning, July 27. There were 2 chicks! We assume the 1st hatched on Wednesday and the 2nd on Thursday. By Friday we had chick number 3 but number 3 took a bit more effort. She needed some help getting completely out of her shell and she took at least a day to stand and then walk. We thought she wasn't going to make it but she pulled through, no worse the wear.
We were gone for several hours on Saturday but when we got home I went straight to the milkhouse to check on the babies. One of the 2 remaining eggs had rolled out of the nest, onto the floor. I put it back in the nest and Red immediately pulled it under herself to keep it warm. I was worried the egg had been out too long, got cold and the chick would die. Only time would tell. If eggs hatched Wed., Thurs., and Friday, we should have another baby by Sunday for sure. Typically a chicken will lay an egg every day but now and then will skip a day so we could skip Saturday but hardly not Sunday too. Could we?
Then came Sunday – the 2 mamas and 3 chicks were no longer in the nest. Apparently the babies decided to wander out of the nest so the hens followed. They were still in the milkhouse of course but could easily get in and out of the nest. That left 2 eggs alone and cold in the nest. I thought surely those 2 eggs would not hatch, the hens sensed this and therefore abandoned them.
Gray was still taking care of the chicks just like they were her own. She was even more possessive and protective than Red.
Joe put the eggs in a box with a lamp to keep them warm because we thought we might as well try for a couple more days even though I wasn't hopeful. Lo and behold, by Monday afternoon, one of the chicks hatched!
She was up and on the go in no time! Because she wasn't buried under a hen, I could easily watch her progress. It took her about 3 hours to stand and walk. I couldn't believe it happens that quickly!
Later that day I thought I'd put her by her siblings. I put her on the milkhouse floor so she could run a little and so the others could see her. Unfortunately it didn't take long for Red to come over and peck at her. Then Gray did the same. I could understand they were trying to protect their chicks but why didn't they understand this one was theirs too? Why was she abandoned? Apparently if they aren't right there when the chick hatches, they have no connection. I put her back in her little box where she had to live for nearly a week. More on that later.