I have had great experience with incubating some eggs. I had the delight of having a duckling, a chick and then a batch of chicks. With the first couple, I tried something new to me, I put them in with a companion. For the duck, this worked very well although I think the rooster and hen believe the duck belongs to them and visa versa. For the solitary chick that I had hatch, I decided to see if I could get a hen to accept him and I did. She seemed happy to be with him and took him on as her own. She protected him like he belonged to her right from the start.
I thought well, if it worked once, maybe it would work again. This time I had 6 little chicks hatch to my delight. I used my little Mini Brinsea incubator and all but one egg hatched successfully. The last egg was not fertile. Trying to be thrifty and save on electricity, I thought why not try a hen with these chicks because she will keep them nice and warm. I won’t have to run a brooder. I went to the hen house and picked out a hen that I thought would be good, nope she didn’t work. So I tried two more that I thought would make good moms and they weren’t up for it either. I tried full sized hens, Orpington, Americana and a black Alstralope because the eggs had come from full sized chickens and a Lt. Brahma Rooster. I thought a big hen would be better. These particular hens are not only known for good egg production but for being good mothers but none of them wanted anything to do with these chirping little fuzz balls. I decided to go back to the younger hens because that’s where I got the Silkie.
I had my choice of banties, silkies, or cochens. Since all these chicks had feathered legs, I decide to go with a beautiful, white cochen. She didn’t mind having them nestled right up to her and get right under her like she was their momma. They instinctively knew exactly what to do and so did she.
I don’t know if other people have tried this or if they have had success with trying to get a hen to adopt chicks. I’m sure that there are people out there that are way more experienced at raising chickens than I am. I wanted to share this experience just in case there was someone new out there that might enjoy the information. This isn’t an easy thing to accomplish.
I have been told that if you have a broody hen already sitting on eggs, you can sneak chicks in with her in the dark. That wasn’t the case. I didn’t have any broody hens and the full sized hens weren’t in the market for chicks and quickly rejected them, by pecking at them. I removed the hen quickly because I knew it wouldn’t work. The unique thing to me is, neither of these hens were laying eggs, nor were they broody. Not only that, I didn’t put either hen in with them in the dark. I brought both hens in to the chicks with the light on and both hens graciously let the chicks cuddle right up to them. They were both about 5 months old, yet they accepted these chicks and instinctively protected them and care for them. Silkies and Cochens are suppose to be good laying hens and good mothers and this has proven to be the case. This has been an experimental process but it has worked out well for all of us. The chicks have all been healthy and I haven’t lost any of them.
The added beauty of all of this was that my daughter left November 17th for Navy bootcamp, which was hard, and on December 17th, these little beauties started showing up. It made my Christmas a little more bearable without my baby. I was so happy that the little white cochen had accepted them so that was also a bonus. The chicks hatched between Friday and Saturday and had a mom by Sunday evening. The white cochen didn’t have a name yet, but since she was so sweet and it was so close to Christmas, Angel was the most appropriate name I could give her being that she was all white and she was their guardian.