I have two sets of baby chicks, Opal’s and Seraphina’s, which hatched about 2.5 weeks apart.
Like last year, Opal and Seraphina are raising their babies together. Unlike last year, instead of a happy family, it’s a little more dysfunctional. Seraphina had some drama at hatch time and managed to kill several of her babies during hatch, and one after. I pulled the 5 survivors to hand raise, but Seraphina was determined to mother and kept trying to take over Opal’s clutch. In the end, I returned Seraphina’s babies to the coop. Opal has since taken to mothering both sets of babies and Seraphina is more the detached mom who comes around just enough to make herself look good. At night she sleeps in a nest box on a fake egg until I move her to the roost. She did a much better job of mothering last year.
Last weekend I went on a feed run. As I walked in the feed store I heard the excited, and wonderful, sound of chicks peeping. You can’t go into a feed store and hear chicks peeping and NOT look. It was a tub full of Australorp chicks and I thought to myself ‘I don’t have any Australorps,’ and somehow two managed to come home with me.
I decided I was going to try my best to graft the two babies to the existing clutches. Opal has already proven she’ll raise anybody’s babies, and I could probably stuff a squirrel under her bum and she wouldn’t know the difference.
After dark I slipped in the coop with the two little babies and stuffed them under Opal. I went out at first light and opened the coop to let everyone out and the two chicks didn’t know to follow the mamas and other chicks. I scooped them up and set them outside with the rest. They were both a bit timid and not quite sure what to do. Since I had to go to work I didn’t want to risk leaving them unattended so I put them back in the brooder in the house for the day. For the past week I’ve been taking them out in the evenings when the babies and mamas bed down so they get accustomed to each other and bring them back inside for the day. Thursday afternoon when I got home from work I had two little chicks perched on top of their brooder seriously considering an escape. It was definitely time to get them transitioned. Yesterday since I was home to monitor I just left them with the flock. From watching them, I’m convinced I have one little rooster and one little hen. Since they look gothic I’ve named them Edgard Allan Poe and Annabel Lee.
Edgar is doing very well and acts like he was hatched right under Opal. Annabel Lee is not transitioning so well. At dusk all the little babies, including Edgar, followed the mamas into the coop. Annabel Lee hunkered down outside. I scooped her up and took her inside with the rest. This morning when I opened the coop everyone left except the two little Australorps. I put them out with the babies and mamas and went to milk my goats. When I came back to check on them, Edgar was following the mamas and chicks around but Annabel Lee was by herself under the coop peeping softly. I tried scaring her out so I could get my hands on her, but she’s too gentle. I soon realized I was going to have to go under there to retrieve her. I was definitely not looking forward to that. Thank goodness I used to be a caver. I headed inside to find some gear so I wasn’t just wallowing around in chicken poo. I taped paper plates to my knees and found a glove. I quickly discovered I should have grabbed two gloves, but I was already underneath the coop when that realization struck so it was far too late. As I was crawling around under the coop, about half my flock was watching me and I know they were trying to figure out what the heck I was doing. Thank goodness my Rupert is such a gentle fella. I can’t imagine what it would have looked like had I still had either of my aggressive roosters. Crawling around under the coop definitely wouldn’t have gone as smoothly if I were being flogged.
Annabel Lee is now inside. She appears to be a bit dehydrated.
She will now be a house chicken until she’s fully feathered and able to live the life of a normal chicken. I’ve also discovered she has a slight case of scissor beak so she needs to be monitored to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs. I am going to call the feed store today to see if they have any left so she can have a companion. I’m thinking I need one named Raven.