Last Thursday master 7 woke me to tell me that the easter chicks had finally come.
He and dh had put two broody hens at the back of our silky bantam enclosure with about 8 eggs. We weren't sure if any of them would hatch as bantams are notoriously broody and will sit on practically anything.(ours have tried to hatch apples,ping-pong balls and even marbles!).
Unfortunately or as usual with our bantams we weren't exactly prepared for the arrival of babies.
However a friend lent us two rabbit hutches which we lined with tarps and filled with clean straw and wood shavings.Why two hutches? Well you see the two broody hens were still being broody and not the least bit "clucky". They totally ignored the little chicks , concentrating all their efforts on keeping us away from the unhatched eggs.We decided therefore to put the hens in the larger hutch with "their" eggs and the babes in the other under a lamp and with the heater on in our schoolroom.
All poultry seemed to settle well until the next morning when ds again woke me with the startling news that there was a lot of noise coming from an unhatched egg.
Unfortunately he had removed the egg from the mothers. Also he had started to help the chicken out of the shell.
We discovered this was all wrong when oldest son did a quick internet check on looking after newborn chicks. the nutrients that remain in the shell are consumed by the chick thus enabling it to last several days without food. Also when we went to put the wet chick back with the hens they rejected it viscously and started pecking at its neck.
So for Friday we all became surrogate mothers to this little chick which surprisingly we named Baby. Baby loved putting its head under our forefinger and curling up in our palm. We were convinced she(note the message we are subtly giving all 4..."you are hens!!")thought she was of the species "hand",as anytime anyone put their hand near her she would come cheeping to it.
However she did need to learn about her sisters and so the following day was spent reintroducing her to the idea that she was a silky bantam chick
Success has been achieved and all 4 are happily eating, and cheeping in their little play-pen. And the mothers? After removing the eggs we put them back with the rest of our brood of mature silky bantams.