How many legs does a momma hen have?

How many legs?

How many legs?

Raising chicks sans hen, you keep them very warm with a heat lamp or incandescent bulb. Guidelines are 95 degF the first week and dropping 5 degrees per week until they are fully feathered or you reach nighttime temperatures. (In Seattle, fully feathered definitely comes first.) But Calamity Jane hasn’t read Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens.

I like how the one chick is standing on her toes to get closer to momma's skin!

I like how the one chick is standing on her toes to get closer to momma’s skin!

The chicks are 5 days old. They are very small. Momma takes them out for long walks, even in the cool of morning. Cluck-cluck-cluck – she shows them how to peck. Cluck-cluck-cluck – she shows them how to scratch. Cluck-cluck-cluck – CJ has a dust bath while the chicks peck at things or nap in the sun. When the chicks are too cold or sleepy she leads them all back to the broody nest for serious naptime.

Peek-a-boo!

Peek-a-boo!

We wonder how they can possibly stay warm enough. Is the 95 deg a daily average? Hourly? When the chicks get cold we notice they do have some behavioural options. One is to cheap loudly. Another is to climb on top of momma and burrow into her feathers – which only works if she is sitting or lying down. When she is standing, they crowd underneath her, burrowing as much of their body as they can into her breast feathers.

Tonight for the first time she led them into the big coop for sleeping. Silly of her, because the chicks can’t possibly make it up to the nest boxes. We gave them a helping hand, then pulled in the dinky ladder from last year’s brood and showed them how to use it, cheering them on. And Scott wanted to buy pullets… Ha! You can’t beat this for adorableness, zen, and entertainment!

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This entry was posted in baby chickens, broody hen, chickens, nest boxes and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How many legs does a momma hen have?

  1. I have also wondered about this 95 degree temperature issue. We visited a local orchard last fall, and there was a smallish mixed breed hen with three babies in tow. It was only in the 40s and windy. They seemed to be three weeks old, so maybe that made the difference.

    • jkmcintyre says:

      What I noticed last year (the first time we had a hen raise chicks) that the first couple of days they did not leave the nest. Starting Day 3 momma took the chicks on outings, longer each day. And then over time the chicks would spend more and more time away from momma on the outings.

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