When I took these pictures and started creating this post a few days ago I had intended it to be a mostly happy post about our success with hatching eggs, but things can change fast when you're dealing with livestock.
Last month we had some very broody hens, which surprised us because they are barely 6 months old, and we decided to let them keep some duck and chicken eggs to hatch. The good news is that they successfully incubated 2 out of several duck eggs, and 6 chicken eggs. I think we would have had more, but I think several of the duck eggs were not fertile, and one of our hens let her eggs get too cold a few times and I think her eggs all died. I wasn't sure what to expect out of such inexperienced hens, and they really did a good job overall!
We had 6 adorable, fluffy little chicks, and our black Olive Egger named Marge was proving to be an excellent mother. When she left the nesting boxes with her babies, one of the other hens lost interest in setting and abandoned her eggs, so I gave them all to the third broody hen that was still setting, but they were cold and I suspected they had died (they had).
Gosh, those babies were so darn cute! And they would have all been Olive Eggers because they were part Americauna and part Black Copper Maran, which I understand creates an Olive Egger. We were so excited about those little chicks because we've never successfully hatched eggs with a broody hen before and they were just so sweet.
Our chicks were a few days old and happily foraging with their mom outside the coop and run-- we were letting them sleep in the nest box inside the coop during the night and putting them outside during the day so the older chickens didn't pester them. The last remaining broody hen successfully incubated the only 2 viable or fertile duck eggs that were remaining and they began hatching!
Unfortunately, mid-hatch, both ducklings were killed by one of our non-broody hens on Friday. We were so sad.
Then, yesterday morning out of the blue, all of our adorable chicks were killed in the early morning before we let all of the birds out into the run for the day. This was completely unexpected because they were several days old and had been in the coop in the nights/mornings every day since they hatched with no issues. I don't know if one hen killed all of them, or if the whole flock went into a frenzy and killed them, but they are gone and it was a super sad day yesterday. Keeping livestock is really tough sometimes. Those chicks were so cute and fun.
We plan to hatch more chicks and ducklings soon and take more precautions to keep them safe from the rest of the flock. It seems like we should be able to let them roam freely with their mom since they all belong to the flock, but apparently it's not that easy. We are coming up with some good ways to keep them with the flock but in their own protected space next time.
Have you had a similar sad experience with animals? Leave a comment and tell me about it. I had a really hard time with this, even though I am accustomed to loss and disappointment with farm-life. But I look forward to a better experience next time.