If you've been following along with my homestead diaries, you know that we have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first baby chicks on the homestead. One of our hens went broody at the end of July with a dozen eggs underneath her, and soon, 21 days had passed and we all impatiently checked every couple of hours throughout the day to see if any chicks had appeared.
I had to go away for a day for work, and of course, that was the day D texted me to tell me that the chicks were hatching. I told him to keep me updated throughout the day, and when I got home, I rushed over to her nest to see what progress had been made. Unfortunately, one chick had hatched, but it had scared the mother off the nest. In a dark twist of events, the chick "disappeared"....to which we can only conclude that it was killed by the mother.
With eggs left to hatch, a terrible mother who had abandoned her nest and killed the one that did hatch, we quickly tried to think through what to do to help hatch the others. We have a Brahma hen that sits constantly in the nest boxes all day long, so we decided to move the eggs under her at least for the night until we could come up with a new plan.
In the morning when we opened the coop, we were met with another gruesome scene. One egg had fallen on the floor of the coop- either it had hatched or it just fell and broke- and the rest of the flock were "cleaning up the mess". It was an utter disappointment....and seriously gross. So now what?
We moved the eggs into the garage and put a heat light on top. We carefully checked the temperature to make sure it was right, and hoped for the best. At this point, we were really discouraged and a bit angry. Things had gone completely wrong so far, so now, we were just hoping to at least get 1-2 chicks to survive.
That of course did not happen. When we walked into the garage later that afternoon, we were smacked in the face with a horrific smell. One of our eggs had exploded; it apparently hadn't been fertilized and it was a rotten bomb. Did you know rotten eggs explode? Neither did we! We were really excited to learn this lesson firsthand....
Now we were really ready to give up. We had 3 eggs left, no mother, the heat lamp idea wasn't working, and cannibal chickens. We thought about just throwing the eggs into the woods and pretending that they never existed....but, it felt wrong. So, we tried one last ditch effort. We moved the Brahma hen into the barn, made a nest for her, set down our remaining eggs, and hoped she'd sit on them.
When we checked back, she didn't really seem too interested. She was nesting, but in a different part of the barn without the eggs underneath her. It really was like things couldn't get any worse.
But- later that afternoon, Mrs. Brahma did decide that these eggs were good enough to sit on. Finally, a small success! She adopted the eggs and didn't leave the nest. Maybe these chicks had a chance!
We waited and waited, checking each day for chicks. After 3 days had passed, we started to question if these eggs were rotten too. We decided to give it another day. That was another mistake because the next morning, guess what we walked into? That's right! Rotten egg explosion! At this point, we cut our losses, threw the remaining two eggs into the woods (which were beginning to turn green....and the terror of experiencing another rotten egg explosion helped us make this decision), and said we were not hatching any more chicks.
But Mrs. Brahma wasn't ready to be done. As traumatic as our first hatching event was, we put 5 more eggs underneath her and are hoping once again that we might get some chicks. We are hoping that this hen will be a better mother, and we're keeping her away from the other cannibal murderers as well. So far, she's been sitting great and seems really happy to have eggs. We've lost one egg though- she's a big hen and she smashed it. We have four left and we're all crossing our fingers they hatch! And when they do, I'm sure we'll find out that they're all roosters. Such is life on a homestead.....
Have you had any chick hatching experiences? Share them in the comments below! ?
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