So we've had a lot of surprises this spring. Several of my hens disappeared several weeks ago. Some reappeared, and some did not.
My first hen to return showed up with 16 chicks!!! They are all fully feathered now, and i expect that she'll be starting to hide from them soon. When mama hen feels the babies are ready to be on their own, she'll start distancing herself from them and hiding. It's always a little sad to see the babies running around crying for mama not sure what to do.
Our first batch of chicks are about 5 weeks old. It's still a little early to tell the boys from the girls, but on some of them it is already obvious. The black chick standing is quite definitely a boy, obvious by the size and color of the comb. When you see dark pink this early, it is a good indication that it's a boy. The light colored smaller chick up front is a girl. She is much smaller than the others, and has a very yellow comb.
Typically the girls have a yellow or pale pink comb until they reach breeding age. When they are mature enough to breed, the comb will turn bright red.
With this batch, i already see a few definite boys and a few definite girls, but most it is still too early to tell. i have two favorites from this batch that i am hoping are girls, and then i plan to find homes for the rest of them. We do not have a coop big enough for this many chickens and they are quickly outgrowing the chicken tractor.
This is my second hen to disappear and then reappear with chicks. They are about 4 weeks old now, and she hatched out 13! So we've had to move birds around to find a place to keep her and all her peeps safe. She is very wild, and will not let us get any where near her babies. i'm tempted to find homes for both her and all her babies together (plus a rooster).
It's really hard for me to give them away, but we just don't have room for 29 more birds!!!
Just as i was stressing out about what to do with all those chicks...we get another surprise!! This hen, which i didn't even realize was missing showed up with 9 more chicks!! They are only 2 days old in this picture and super sweet.
So yeah, that's 38 baby chicks this spring!!! OMG!
We obviously can not keep them all, i am just hoping they are not to difficult to re-home. i may try offering chicken starter sets (one girl and one boy) from different broods, otherwise i'm going to get stuck with a crap ton of roosters. Most folks would just eat the extra birds, but as a vegetarian family that's definitely not an option and re-homing 30+ chicks can be a bit difficult...especially when i want to guarantee they won't be killed or eaten.
So yeah, really starting to hate surprises...but they are soooo cute!! :)