It’s been a challenging year for chickens on White Flint Farm.
Early this year coyotes took out 2/3 of our free range flock, including both of our roosters. We bought some replacement chicks from a nearby farm, one of which was a young rooster. Just as he got old enough to start crowing, he was killed by a hawk.
We were pleased when one of our hens went broody after that. Of course the eggs she was sitting on were unfertilized, so I replaced them with a dozen of our Dominique eggs, as that little flock still has a functioning rooster.
Because the broody hen was hunkered down comfortably in a corner of the coop (rather than in a nesting box) I didn’t move her to the brooder coop. I just left her there. About a week before the eggs were due to hatch another hen went broody and decided to join her on her clutch. Pleased with the development, I gathered another dozen Dominique eggs and gave the second hen a clutch of her own. But she refused them, insisting instead on crowding onto the same eggs that were already taken. Because, chickens.
When the hatch occurred a week later, only one egg in the group successfully hatched, continuing our poor luck. But the lone chick was healthy, and, for the first time ever, I was hoping we hatched a rooster.
Naturally both mama hens took credit for the chick. So instead of two hens with a dozen chicks each, we had two hens raising one single chick. They shared their duties as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Even after the chick feathered out and was nearing puberty, he (?) still insisted on trying to get under one of his mothers’ wings at night.
I don’t know if that little chick was a rooster or not, but I choose to think so.
But I’ll never be sure. He disappeared a couple of days ago.
Maybe something got him. No animal deals with more predator threats than a chicken. Maybe he just died somewhere–chickens just mysteriously drop dead sometimes. Whatever the reason, our lone chick of 2016 is gone.
We’ll get some more chicks next year and hope for better results.