Another successful batch of chicks has hatched here on the Campbell Family Farm. Our bantam hens are turning out to be very reliable. The previous batch from spring is about to go in the freezer. We have started a new rotation system that seems to be going well so far. We have bantam hens that want to go broody all the time, they just sit in the egg boxes in the coop, day in and day out, until we let them sit on some eggs. We have started moving them to the little house pictured below when we want them to actually sit on some eggs. First we give them a day or two on some fake eggs and make sure they are willing to commit in their new environment, if they pass the test then they get around 10 eggs to sit on. Then 21 days later, we get some chicks.
Below is some pictures of our latest chickies, hatched today. Out of the 10 eggs we let her sit on, 9 hatched. (It turned out the 10th wasn’t fertilized). Once they have all hatched and fluffed up, the mama is usually ready to take them exploring and get them used to scratching, cleaning, and finding food and water. So we relocate them from the little tractor to a large ‘nursery area’ next to our back deck. The area is enclosed with fencing, to offer some protection and keep the chicks from roaming to far. We like the close proximity to the house which allows us to keep a close eye on them when they are young. Even though predators could definitely get in if they wanted to, so far we have been lucky and haven’t lost any birds in this area. (We also used it for the ducks in the spring). At night time they get closed up in the dog crate for a little extra safety/weather protection.
We put another broody hen on some ‘test’ eggs in the rabbit tractor when we moved these guys to the nursery. When her eggs hatch in a few weeks, we will move her to the ‘nursery’ and our chicks that are in there now will get moved to the ‘pre-school’ paddock. The pre-school paddock is an in-between area where the birds are still with mama hen and still separated from the main flock, but right next-door so they can get to know each other without sharing the same space. The area is bigger than the nursery, so they have even more room to roam. When these chicks are around 6 weeks, the next batch will be ready to go to pre-school and these ones will move in with the big kids! We plan to continue this little rotation until the hens don’t want to be broody anymore, so likely we will expect a lull in the winter. Letting the mama hens raise the chicks is so much easier than putting them in a brooder, it’s cleaner, healthier, and makes for smarter, better chickens.
Meanwhile…we are anxiously awaiting our own little chick to ‘hatch’ any day now…baby campbell due August 4th!