Reader Questions – Accepting the Chicks

Our Broody Speckled Sussex

 When we first gave chicks to our two broody hens, Lynda from the Wisdom of the Radish and author of a book with the same name asked us about the acceptance.

“Did they accept them? I once had hens “accept” new chicks only to, a few days later, decide they weren’t right and kill them all… it was so sad. Don’t mean to scare you, but be careful!”

Well, we’ve had the chicks here for a few weeks now and the results are mixed. We gave each hen two chicks each. We then locked our Speckled Sussex hen in a brooder with her chicks for a few days and then allowing her to roam the kid stall during the day with her chicks. Our Black Australorp we kept in the coop. After we were sure the hens and chicks were imprinted on each other we moved the Australorp in with the Sussex. When the chicks were big enough they all got to hang out with everyone else.

Pretty early on we noticed that while she was going through the motions of motherhood, the Sussex wasn’t that great at it. She wasn’t protective and had a tendency to wander away from them – not paying them any mind. The Australorp was the exact opposite being super protective and a doting mother – attacking even the goats if they get too close to her chicks. The Sussex ended up losing one of her chicks and after that it all went down hill and a few days ago she completely abandoned her remaining chick.

But all is not lost!

The Australorp adopted the abandoned chick and is now raising it as hers. We now know that the Speckled isn’t a good mother (though she is a very determined egg hatcher), while the Australorp is a phenomenal one. Hopefully she’ll get broody again so she can raise more chicks for us.

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