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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

And the Winner of the Great Egg Hunt is . . .

 . . . a pair of banties.

I thought I have done a pretty good job of finding stolen nests, but I noticed that there were 2 banty hens that disappeared around the same time.  I thought it was possible that they had been picked off by some predator, but I was also wondering if they might not show up before too long since they had tried to steal some nests earlier this spring.

A few days ago, while watering the sheep, one of these hens appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared into nowhere.  I tried to look around to see if I could find her hiding anywhere close by, but I had no luck.

Today I was digging holes for some trees that should be arriving, when I thought I heard something that sounded a bit like a baby chick in the shed.  I looked into the sheep area and saw the little banty hen again.  And I was sure that what I heard was a baby chick.  I followed the sound and came to the boards along the shed wall. 

I know I have checked between the boards and wall before for eggs, but there was the chick.  And a couple of unhatched eggs. I don't know how she got past me, but she did.  Good camo I guess.

Well, the incessant cheeping of the stuck little chick seemed to bring out the other banty hen.  So now there were the two that I had been missing.  I wasn't sure which was the mom.  Maybe both??  Chickens have been known to share nests, especially little tiny ones like these.
The chick is between the walls, one hen on one side, and the second hen outside sticking her beak under

So I set up a pen for the chicks and hens, because being stuck between 2 walls just wouldn't do for the chick. I then proceeded to catch the hen I thought was the mom (who was paying the most attention to the cheeping) and the chick.  I caged them up, got them some water, and then saw the free hen go to check out the nest. Great. Wrong bird?
The little chick and the not much bigger banty hen
At about the exact same time, I started to hear peeping.  The chick I rescued was snug under a momma hen.  This was more peeping!  Coming from the stock trailer.

I went inside of the trailer, but it was quite empty, apart from 3 eggs that were in the usual stolen nest spot.  But the peeping was definitely coming from the trailer.  After a little additional listening, I determined that the peeping was coming from the front storage area of the trailer.  After a bit of fiddling with the door, I got the storage area open.

And a storage area it is!!
After removing buckets and feed bags, I was down to the heavy stuff
I carefully started removing things, including rolled up heavy floor mats, not wanting to crush any chicks or hatching eggs.  Eventually I found them!
Floor mat #1 removed - a fold of floor mat #2
Oh boy!  What a nest!!

The hens, however, were now all jumbled now, and I wasn't sure if the real mom would take this nest again - let alone the other hen.

So I gathered the 3 chicks and the other eggs, which were hatching, and set up another pen.  I gave all but one chick to one hen and the eggs and the youngest looking chick (to keep her on the eggs so she wouldn't fight to get to chicks) to the other.
So now we will wait and see if any more chicks hatch.  Unfortunately, only one of the eggs/chicks that hatched were from a regular sized chicken. The big clutch was all banty eggs - not too exciting to get in your dozen farm fresh eggs, they're quite small.

So as you can see, the banties won.  I'm not sure if I'm going to keep all of them. Banties are wonderful for hatching out clutches of eggs, which I wanted them for.  But I guess they are also wonderful at stealing nests. (Although not so wonderful at picking spots if they want their chicks to survive.)  Maybe with some planning and planting of nests (there are tricks you can do with golf balls . . . but that's a whole other post), I can get these banties to work in our favor hatching out our regular chickens.

At least the chicks are cute. :)

1 comment:

Jayde said...

I loved your story. I can't wait to have chickens of our own!

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