Chickens 101: Hatching

Daisy Mae, my Silkie hen, went broody about 5 weeks ago. And as she sat, in trance, in the nesting boxes, I began asking around for fertilized eggs. A co-worker I call, Chicken Man, stepped up and brought in 6 eggs. And now, 21 days later, I sit watching this bird, lift and shift her body, in a type of primal rhythm, making room for hatching chicks, while fluffing out her wings to warm and protect babies already hatched.

pipped eggWe’re up to three chicks out of five eggs (one egg was lost early on due to a crack). The fourth egg has
been pipped (when the chick pokes a hole through the egg, allowing more oxygen in) and within the next few hours we’ll have another chick to name. 🙂 Mother Nature takes her time, allowing the chickens to absorb the much needed nutrients before emerging completely from their shells.

And even though these eggs are not biologically connected to Daisy Mae, she still cares for them as if they were. She knows no difference in breed, size, and/or gender, and yet she is instinctively bred to protect these young, teaching them how to eat and drink by clucking and demonstrating all the motions.

They’re quick learners and within a few weeks Daisy Mae will be ready to return to her place among the flock, later to be reunited with her adopted offspring. I’m never sure if Daisy Mae recognizes the babies she’s raised, but she typically treats them as if they are new comers, complete strangers to the flock, having to find their own niche within the group.

And so is life on the urban farm…


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