A few weeks ago i posted about losing a couple of special hens and the broody hens i had in the shed. There has been a lot of drama with the ladies in the shed. They are constantly switching nests, stealing each others eggs and we've had several eggs disappear and then reappear a few days later.
The first hen to set had a clutch of 6 eggs. One morning, when i went to check her she only had one left. The hen to her left only had 2 eggs (from 5) and the hen across from her still had all 5 of her eggs. We have no idea what could have snuck into the shed and taken 8 eggs all at one time without disturbing the hens. ??? i was really thrilled to see that i still had one leghorn egg incubating.
So, after that, i knew the shed was not the safest place for the setting hens, but i also knew i moved them they would abandon the eggs. So i left them in there.
Tuesday evening i went to check the hens and heard peeping coming from the eggs. One of the eggs had a little pip mark, and a crack where the tiny baby was trying to hatch.
My girl was dying to hold the egg (which was peeping loudly) so i handed it to her, and almost immediately the egg split open.
Out popped a brand new baby! This isn't just any baby chick....this baby hatched from my only leghorn egg. We check the other eggs and heard peeping from two more eggs! We left them alone for the night and checked on them again the next morning.
We were so eager to check the nest the next morning. Inside we found two more new chicks. One is a Aracuna, and the other a bit of a mystery. She hatched out of a brown egg, and i thought it would be a buff orpington...but the chicks are typically yellow. So i have no idea, it is quite possible one of my wil girls snuck an egg in there. The chipmunk pattern is typical of the wild birds. i also found a half hatched Blackstar chick that never made it out of it's egg. :( The polish egg was still unhatched, so i moved it under another hen just in case it was still incubating.
My little girl was in complete heaven. She just adores baby chicks and would carry them around all day if she could.
Last night i wasn't sure if/where i should move the hen and peeps. i wanted to get them out of the shed, but goats have destroyed the fencing/pen around my main coop so they can get in there an eat the corn. i was afraid they would trample the new babies. i had considered putting them in the little coop, but the mama hen isn't part of that flock and with the whole pecking order thing i was afraid the babies would be pecked to death. We've had that happen before. :(
So last night, when i was putting the birds up, i decide just to leave her in the shed. She was tucked way into the hay, pretty much hidden. She was only hen that had not had eggs stolen, so i thought maybe she was in a safer spot. If the egg thief returned there were two other hens with eggs out in the open for it to steal. i even placed some poultry netting over the hay to cover the hen's hidden nest, and placed green plastic fencing in front of the opening ...just in case.
This morning i got up early, and immediately went down to open the shed. i wanted to get the netting off my hen asap, so she could get up and get food etc. When i lifted her out of the nest, i was completely horrified. The nest was empty. :( i immediately started feeling under her wings, hoping maybe they were just tucked up in there...and one little chick popped out. Only one. :(
i lost my only leghorn, and the pretty brown arucana. :(
Now i have to figure out the best place for her and i have the other two setting hens to deal with. The problem is, if i move them they will abandon their eggs. i'm really not sure what i can do to keep them protected, because i don't have any idea what is taking the eggs and chicks. :( i know this is all part of the cycle of life, but i'm tired of losing so many chicks/chickens. It really sucks.