Baby Chicks for Passover!

Last June, to our surprise one of our Australorps decided to go broody. Why was that a surprise? Because the Australorp breed of chicken does not usually exhibit the mothering characteristic of “Broodiness.” This is when a hen has laid enough eggs to be a clutch (in her mind any way) and her hormones change and she now has a strong compulsion to sit on eggs with the intention of hatching them out as her babies.

Well, our Australorp, Vera, wanted to set eggs and we had never done this so we gave her 6 eggs and waited to see what would happen. She did a great job of sitting and raising the four babies that hatched out on July 1st, 2011.

Now those babies have grown up and one of them, named Gabriella (Gabby for short) went broody. She is a mix of Welsummer (her mama) and Giant Cochin (her papa) and is lovely and sweet.  Once we realized that she wanted to be broody, I purchased hatching eggs from a breeder who lives about 2 hours away. That night we put 10 eggs under Gabby, 6 Wheaten Marans and 6 Barnevelders. Gabby has been a good broody mama and has stayed on her nest and cared for the eggs. Did you know that broody hens could turn each egg as many as 50 times a day? She also talks to her developing chicks and they learn her voice even before they hatch out. Last night was day 21 and so we moved mama and the eggs into the house and set her up in a big rubber water tub. When I was moving the eggs I could hear the chicks (inside the eggs) chirping to their Mama. Oh my gosh it was so cute! Well Mama wasn’t too happy about her new diggs so I covered the top of the tub with a beach towel and she settled right down.

Today is April 4th and it is hatching day! We already have 3 chicks that have hatched out, 1 baby Maran and 2 Barnevelders. They are so cute and what a Simple Joy to see! Mama is still on the eggs so I can’t see what is going on or if there are more babies that have hatched out under all her feathers. I guess I will just have to be patient and wait until she stands up to see how many we have. I will keep you posted!


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