She surpassed our expectations as a broody and hatched out TWELVE babies! Good Girl!
|shortly after hatching- the babies like to stay right up next to or underneath mama|
|seeing chick feed for the first time|
She has been such a good mama to her chicks and very protective of them (pecking us when we reach in or get close). She raises them far better than we could, teaching them everything they need to know in chicken life. She shows them how to eat, drink, scratch, know what treats are, take a dust bath, and lots of other useful skills.
|a couple weeks old|
The chicks have grown and changed so much in just the last couple of weeks! They love to snuggle underneath her warm feathers and wings and often they will jump on top of her back to hang out for a bit while she is sitting down. SO CUTE.
|catching a ride on mama's back|
An interesting outcome of this year's hatch was the presence of a white Dominique chick, which when hatched looked like a fuzzy whitish yellow chick with some grey accents on the wings and head. I had no idea what a white Dominique even was until this happened, and at first I thought a stray rooster had stopped by one day without us knowing to visit our flock of all Dominiques! Apparently there is a recessive gene where every once in a while the Dominique will have white or partially white coloring. It is a pretty rare occurrence and it will be fun to see how this little chick changes as she/he develops.
|the White Dominique chick gives mama kisses (or more likely picks food from her beak)|
I love letting our chickens breed on their own and repopulate the flock naturally. It's much less work for us to let our hens raise the chicks, and I think they probably integrate into the flock better as well. It does involve some planning in order to breed the best type of whatever breed you have and improve your flock's genetics, but I find it great fun. There's nothing like watching a mama hen and her sweet baby chicks :)
A lot of people have asked us what we are going to do with all these chicks when they grow up. Well, we plan to keep all the pullets and from the cockerels we will save the best one with good Dominique type for breeding and the rest will be processed and go to freezer camp. This will be very very hard I'm sure, but a necessary part of homesteading for us. What else would we do with all those grown roosters?
For now, however, we will enjoy their utter cuteness and fuzzy bodies with high-pitched cheeping noises :)