It seems like I’ve tried everything. I’ve ordered baby chicks and had the post office get them here quickly. I’ve had the post office take days to get them here and every one was dead. I’ve tried to move broody hens and their eggs into quiet, secluded areas only to have them abandon the eggs. I’ve had them hatch two eggs out of their nest, fall to the floor and abandon the remaining eggs. Let’s not mention dogs and chicks… This year, I tried bringing in outside fertilized eggs for my broody hens to hatch.
Two broody hens got nine eggs each. On the second day, one hen setting on the duck eggs, left her post. Whether chased by more aggressive hens, or forgetting what she was doing, all nine eggs were very cold when I came to gather eggs. The next day, the other hen was not on her nest, but two spaces down. Her eggs were coolish, but not cold. I grabbed her, removed the fresh eggs other hens had left, and reinstalled her on her adopted eggs. Only time would tell.
Time got away from me, and I realized today that she should have hatched them by now. Granted, every evening I gather eggs, and I’ve paid attention to her and her eggs, and I never saw any sign, no broken eggs, no chicks. But with them being overdue by a week, I reached in, grabbed the hen, and pulled her off the nest, fluttering and squawking.
Deep inside the nest box, lay a lone dead chick. The other eight eggs remained whole. Sigh.
Evidently, one egg had stayed warm enough to produce a chick. It never made a noise that I heard, never fell from the nest, never came out from under momma. Unfortunately, that meant it never had access to any water. I would give the hen some grain in her nest box, and if the chick had to, it could have eaten the tiny scraps the hen left. But never water. The hen could fly down, get a drink and return to the nest… but not the chick.
I’m so sad I never noticed it, never heard a peep.
Someday, perhaps, I’ll figure out the magic combination of privacy, fertile eggs, access to food and drink, and broody hens that don’t abandon their eggs.Find me here!