Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Time to intervene...

My little silkie banty has been setting on her nest in the back corner of the chicken house for about 30 days now so guess it is time to see what is going on. Haven't seen any little babies anywhere and gave her a few extra days in case she had layed more eggs before she started sitting. Minnie Rose Lovgreen in her little book wrote " she starts laying an egg each day in her nest. She sits on the nest a little longer every day, a little longer every day, until she lays her last egg. She may lay anywhere from 10 to 14 eggs. She is almost ready to set...when she stays on her eggs all night, you know she has started setting. " So I wanted to give plenty of time for the eggs to hatch in case I had my timing off.
The problem is she is so far back in the corner that I cannot reach her. But Tool Belt Jim had been using a net to herd chickens in at night so I thought it would work to move her off the nest.
You can see how small the door is so there is no way I could crawl in it and I was afraid the banty momma would peck Mark if I sent him in there. I lifted her off the nest with the net and guess what? All this time she had been setting on one lone, solitary guinea egg. And the only problem is I only have two guineas and they are both hens, so the guinea eggs are not fertile. Just my luck! But, I felt so sorry for the little silkie momma cause she has faithfully set on that nest hardly ever getting off. In fact I have never seen her off the nest. But Minnie Rose Lovgreen says in my favorite chicken book " she only takes about 15 minutes recess off the nest every day, or maybe 30 minutes when the sun shines. She eats and drinks and takes a dust bath, and cleans her beak thoroughly before she goes back on the nest again.....when you see her clean her beak, you know she's just about ready to go back on the nest. ...She only takes that one recess a day. She does that for 21 days."
So it was now obvious this little momma wasn't going to get to mother any little babies. But wait! I remember seeing a sign in my local Producer's Grain window about "chick days" coming soon. Why not buy some baby chicks and put under her? I called and the store closest to my house actually had chicks in stock that very day! So over there I headed!

Poppy and Baby Kaden looking at the chicks.
Grandson Mark is my poultry farmer. He loved the baby chicks too. I picked out 7 baby chicks cause I wasn't sure if the silkie mother would actually claim them as her own cause the lady at the store said they were not newly hatched chicks and sometimes the banty won't take them cause she knows they cannot possibly be hers. Ha! They don't know how badly this little banty wants to mother something!

I decided not to put the babies in the hen house with her but to move them all to their own cage. That way if the other chickens try to peck them or the little banty momma won't accept them, I don't have to try to catch them in the little chicken house again. We definitely need Tool Belt Jim to put us in a door on the side that I can crawl in through!

Here is Tool Belt Jim adding the baby chicks in with the banty momma.
Now for the big moment. Notice she is eyeing them pretty closely. And these chicks probably were raised in an incubator so they don't even know what a momma hen is. That's my guess anyway.

Instinct must take over cause they run to her and start snuggling. But alas, we found the babies could get out of this little pen so move them again we did. This time we brought them up to the house and put them on the patio and put them all in a plastic tub that we could put some wire over. Will the momma take care of them? Nothing like yanking you off your eggs and moving you twice when all you want to do is be left alone so you can set on your eggs!

Now isn't this a precious sight! She has all 7 of the baby chicks under her! She is such a good momma! I am sure there is a lesson to be learned here for humans! It is still pretty cool outside so I really am thankful she is going to take care of them as her own. Otherwise I would be hooking up a light and taking care of them myself.
My favorite author says this " Her chicks are all hatched out. Then if you like you can buy more chicks to put under her. She can cover up to 6 more chicks than she can hatch, because her wing span spreads out. That's an economical way to build up your flock quicker than just letting her sit on those 10 to 14 chicks. A bantam hen can cover as many as 18 to 20 chicks. One lady did order 25 baby chicks, and she kept her bantam hen setting on some old eggs until the chicks arrived by mail. She put the whole 25 under her hen, and raised every one." Wow is all I can say! Not sure where they all would have fit!
Here they all are the next day when it warmed up.
These little chicks just climb all over the momma banty. They are so cute to watch. Now here is my problem. Apparently the momma takes care of her babies for two months before she starts laying eggs again wanting to hatch out another batch. And remember I have two incubators going with about 9 eggs due to hatch out in about 7 days and another incubator going with about 19 eggs in it due to hatch out in about 17 days. So will she still accept the chicks that are going to hatch out in a week to raise along with these? I may have to plan on raising some under a light in a brooder. Whatever!

Isn't this fun and such good experience for all of us!

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