We recently experimented with letting our broody five-year-old partridge Cochin named Hoppy hatch a few chicks.
Before this, I hand-raised three different sets of day-old chicks and always felt it was a wonderful experience. I loved the smell of the clean chips in the brooder, watching the chicks scratch and peck and having them climb up on my hands to grab a few bites of food.
So when two bundles of joy popped out from under Hoppy on an unusually cold day in May, I had some reservations. I had no idea what to expect. But my husband assured me that Hoppy would take care of everything, and that’s exactly what she did!
We initially set up a small coop with a little extra heat for Hoppy and the chicks in our garage. And aside from the normal changing of bedding and giving them food and water daily, that was all we had to do.
After that, it was amazing to see Hoppy in action. In the beginning, the chicks spent a lot of time under her keeping warm. When they ventured out for food and water, Hoppy made sure they knew what to eat and made sure they ate it. As the days grew warmer, the chicks spent more and more time venturing out into their coop. They’d run out to investigate visitors and then dart back under Hoppy. They also liked to climb on Hoppy’s back and take a ride or hang out looking at the world. If we held a chick too long, Hoppy would let us know. She even taught them how to roost!
One thing I always worried about with my hand-raised chicks was introducing them to our existing flock. With Hoppy, she took care of that too! She just walked the chicks out into the yard and nobody dared to cross her and mess with the chicks.
I didn’t even have to worry about confining the chicks so they didn’t wander and get hurt. Hoppy watched them constantly, always “talking” with them. The chicks would each chirp regularly and Hoppy would respond.
At three months of age, Hoppy’s chicks are fully integrated into the flock. To me, an amazing and seemless accomplishment that required very little of my attention.
So, if you’ve got a broody and don’t mind what sex your chicks are, go ahead and let her raise some; it’s a lot easier than hand-raising and it’s a lot of fun to watch!Originally posted at Backyard Poultry Magazine.