It is very exciting when summer hits and all the hens decide they want babies. I have four hens sitting right now. Two white Silkies, one tricolor Silkie and one Barred Rock.
One of my black Silkies has four two-week old chicks. I put eggs under her so she ended up with 3 white chicks and one dark one with a little white on it’s head.
I like to separate my sitting hen from the other chickens so no other eggs get deposited with the ones I want hatched. If you can’t do this, then mark the eggs you want hatched with a X of them and then take the others out daily. You have to lift the hen to get the eggs but she gets use to that pretty quickly. I lift by the tail to avoid getting pecked.
The hen only gets off the eggs once or twice a day to eat, drink and poop and it seems the hen would be less likely to get up if there are a bunch of hens that could take over her eggs. I have actually had two mixed Silkie hens sitting on eggs (on the ground, much to my dismay) and they kept stealing each others eggs. One hen would wind up with 8 eggs and the other 2. I have heard they will steal each others chicks, too. Silkies are excellent mothers so I could see that happening. That’s why I am enjoying my two maternity ward houses so much.
I always put about six eggs under the Silkies as they are small chickens and 8 or so under the larger hens. I don’t usually do the candling to ensure the eggs are growing into chicks. The mom will sometimes push the eggs out that aren’t any good…or so that has been my experience. If you don’t check the eggs though, you can get some bad smells.
I like to let the hen keep the chicks for about 4 to 8 weeks. If I have other chicks that I can group together, then I take all the chicks away from the Moms and put them in a small safe yard or pen. I never let one chick be alone. If I don’t have other chicks then I let the Mom keep her one chick until it is pretty much full grown. So far, that has only happened once.
My neighbor lets her hen and chicks roam around in the yard and though it is more natural, it is far from safe. She had about four or five chicks hatch out a month or so ago and none of them are left. If the chicken hawks don’t get them, the owls will. It breaks my heart.
I have two large dogs that stay outside at night and their yard is very close to the chicken yards. The dog yard is actually on the side of my two acres that is closest to the woods which is where I imagine most four-legged predators would live. I am sure their barking has discouraged animals from feasting on my chickens.
I believe I have 86 chicks/chickens now. I actually sold a few recently and gave away some roosters. I have 18 Americauans, 14 Barred Rock and Barred Rock mix, and all the rest are Silkies with a few of them being Americauana/Silkie mix. Some of the prettiest ones are the Am/Silkie mix. Small and colorful with feathered legs make them special.
Two months ago, I hatched out Barred Rock (brown) eggs in the incubator. Well, I forgot that I had a couple Americuana roosters running in the yard so I got some mixed looking chickens. I actually like having the different colored chickens. It sure makes it easier to tell them apart. Of course, then I name them. Named chickens seldom leave my property. It would be like selling one of your children.
My husband is so good to me and he knows almost every weekend I have some kind of chicken project. If it’s not fencing, its building houses, or moving something in the yards. Then there are trips to the feed store, flea market, Swap Meets or just picking up chicks/chickens from Craigslist. If your kids are grown and you have “Empty Nest Syndrome,” chickens will keep you busy and they start to feel important to you like your dog/cat and so on.
Well, we are going to be building a 4×4 chicken house this weekend. I will put a note up to remind me to take pictures of the various stages. It is so easy and it makes quick, inexpensive housing for a few chickens.