We breed Buff Orpingtons chickens here on the smallholding and we love this friendly and animated breed.
Each year we buy in a small number of hatching eggs. This is so we can select an unrelated cockerel from the chicks that hatch as our breeding cockerel for the following year. This helps keep our flock genetics strong.
But this year we got a surprise…
We got this little one and it’s not an Orpington.
How do we know? Well, its body dimensions are smaller than the Orpingtons, its structure is less round but most of all there’s lots of feathers on the legs!
We contacted the seller who believes he accidentally mixed in an egg from a Brahma chicken.
This left us with a problem. The chick had struggled to hatch so had been moved from Willow (the brood hen) to our incubator to complete the process. We had to assist the chick getting out of the egg and time to recover was needed for the weak chick.
We were very worried about putting the small Brahma back with Willow . The chick was weaker than Willow’s Orpington chicks and could struggle to keep up them in the field.
We decided for the health of the chick to give it a day in an artificial brooder to help it recuperate. Then it would go to Laurel who was hatching 2 different breeds (Welsummers & Barnevelders) the following day. This is normally very straight forward and the hens accept the extra chicks without any problems, but…
Yes, you guessed it, Laurel wasn’t having any of it.
To begin with it was fine. We added the chick at dusk when she was roosting and it snuggled into her feathers. Laurel didn’t bat an eyelid.
The next morning we opened the coop door and within 10 minutes she had pushed the little Brahma chick both out of the nest and the coop. She didn’t hurt it (thank goodness), she just wasn’t having it in the nest!
We scooped the little Brahma up and then had to decide what to do.
Our best option was to give the chick to Willow and hope it could keep up. At this point Willows chicks were starting their 3rd day and had all bonded.
We realised we couldn’t risk waiting another 12 hours until nightfall to slip the Brahma under her wing. So we thought why not just try and introduce the chick right there and then? It’s a risky strategy. Introductions of chicks to hens in the daytime are rarely successful.
In this case the risk paid off and the Brahma went straight to Willow running with her Orpington chicks all through the day. Despite all of our concerns that our little Brahma was too small and weak to keep up with the Orpingtons the chick is zooming around like an Olympic athlete.
I’m glad to say this evening the little Brahma is sleeping peacefully in Willow’s down feathers. A lovely end to the day.
If you’d like to know more about breeding chickens using the fabulous natural instincts of broody hens we have LOTs of tutorial videos on our YouTube channel.
I hope you join us on the channel!