Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Extremely broody Java Hen and her Chicks
This old white Java hen is a faithful mother to her brood of 8 chicks. She sat on the eggs in the nestbox daily, with me taking her off every night to remove any new laid eggs, and put her back. Not a sound from her, as if she understood I meant her no harm. Then after 4 chicks hatched over 2 days, one chick was cold and limp as it was outside of her warm feathers. I put this lifeless chick in the incubator. The next morning it was up and chirping! Because the hen usually will get off the nest to take her hatched chicks to food and water by the second day, leaving the eggs to die, I put the rest of the eggs in the incubator. The hen and 4 chicks went to the "pullet house" to stay inside with a light, water, and 24% chick feed. The hen kept them under her. Amazing to watch...as she showed them how to drink and eat. The cluck of a hen with chicks is unmistakeable. As the chicks in the incubator hatched out, I left each 1-2 days to gain strength. Then I took them one by one to the mother hen at night, and put them under her.
I have tried all sorts of ways to keep chicks with hens that hatch them...but this is the only way that has worked for me. Many times 2-3 would hatch, and the hen would take them off the nest and the other eggs abandoned.
Today I let them out into the wire lot (hardware cloth to keep out the snakes that LOVE to gobble up little chicks!). The mother is showing them how to scratch the dirt, and look for bugs. Lovely the way the mother shows them by doing. A lot like people. Children learn by what they see, not by what they are told.