Given that the hens had killed the previous chicks when they were helpless hatchlings, I was nervous about their interaction this time around. I didn’t know how long to keep the hens isolated from the chicks. I imagined Momma would take the chicks on their first outing when they were several days old, that she would shelter them under her wings and protect them from the Big Bad Hens if needs be.
But, as with many things chicken, it simply happened. When the chicks were 2 days old, I went out to visit. I unlocked the door and crouched in the opening to observe and film their adorableness. Momma decided to go out for a spell since the door was open. I appointed myself guardian.
Other hens wandered in to peck at the food. I figured a hen couldn’t kill a chick in one strike, so I took deep breaths and watched. Peck peck goes the hen at the big-chicken feeder. Cheep cheep go the little chicks in the nest box. Then Rooroo, the Boldest-But-Not-Brightest, decided to investigate. Hop hop and (s)he’s down with Baracka:
I am loving watching real chicks do their thing. Our previous two experiences were raising chicks in a box until they were big enough to go outside. The first time there were no hens to worry about. The second time, we had to integrate the young pullets (and cockerel, as it turned out) with the full-grown hens; an experience with prolonged trauma for the younger.
This time the chicks get to do it the natural way. Momma is around to protect them, but the hens will get used to these small creatures before they become a serious threat to their pecking order. That will come later…