The Cottage Smallholder

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Update on the home grown Leghorn/Golden Seabright cross chicks: 5 days on


Five day old Leghorn Golden Seabright cross chick

I took Steve_h’s and Cathryn’s advice and examined the remaining eggs in Venice’s nest closely. Just one was addled. But over the past couple of days the four remaining eggs were either crushed or the chicks just didn’t make it when they tried to hatch out. It was very sad clearing up the remains and egg shells.  Only one other egg had fully come to term. It was a mess of flattened feathers. What on earth went wrong?

The problem was that Venice had collected eggs as and when they were laid over a few days before we realised that she was broody. Next time we’ll make sure that when a broody hen sits on eggs they will all be laid that day. Then all that are going to hatch will do so on the same day and we are not having to deal with a hen that has chicks and also eggs that will hatch within a few days. The ‘mother’ hen must suffer. She needs to nurture her fledglings but also feels obliged to sit on her nest and hatch out the rest.

Anyway, we still have two good strong chicks that are bursting with life and Vroom. And Venice is a very attentive and caring mum.

I’ve been letting Venice and the chicks into their run for a few hours over the past couple of days. They all need fresh air and a chance to stretch their legs. They also should ideally get used to the movements of other chickens in the run. They are protected from big stompy chicken feet and they will stay in an enclosed run until they are three months old and can hold their own.

It’s been such fun watching the chick’s antics. They are into everything but rush back to their mum when things seem a bit scary.

The chicks can now negotiate the ramp into the field hut if they are at the base when Venice decides to go inside. However if they are under the ramp they tend to panic a bit as they can’t quite work out how to get back into the hut. This evening they clearly had worked out this Krypton factor and were settled under Venice’s feathery hen fluffiness. If you ever have the chance to put a hand under a hen’s breast feathers you will know exactly what I mean. The ultimate downy bed.

When I lifted the roof of the field hut this evening, the chicks can’t resist peeping out to see what was going on. Tiny, precious, bright eyed creatures.

As you can see from the photo above, Venice’s feet are enormous compared to the size of a chick – the latter have become very flight of foot keeping out of her way and joining together when they need sibling support. And this does happen, even with chicks. The bigger chick has already escaped twice – luckily spotted by me before any disaster happened. My Rescue Hand of Safety seems to terrify the chicks. When I finally gently cup a recalcitrant chick in my hand it feels so light – just fluff and protesting shrieks of alarm. One day they will get used to me.

Now I have secured any possible means of escape from the chick pen and have created a mini Alcatraz. This means that I no longer have the excuse of spending hours down in the run observing them. It’s amazing that when they hatch at just 21 days they can see, hear, drink, feed and also take direction from their mum. To me they seem like miracles.

Last summer I invested in a tiny video camera – Flip Ultra HD 3rd Generation. The built in image stabilisation is great for people like me that might be a bit quivery when they point and shoot. I haven’t used it much since then but thought that it would be fun to make some videos of the brand new chicks and the Pekin bantams as they develop so quickly. I’ve been filming the chicks and Pekins today and have posted a couple of chick videos on YouTube.

These are not Oscar award winning movies but they’ll give you a sense of the chick’s new life at just five days old. Playful and learning to survive in their new world.

Video 1  Folly plays on Venice’s back

Video 2 Folly and Flotsam eat and drink and be merry!

Yes the second chick is called Flotsam. Just woke up two nights ago and it seemed to fit. Thank you for all your suggestions – we now have a list for nest year’s chicks!

  Leave a reply


  1. Sheila

    Your videos are great and the little chicks are as you say little fluffy miracles 🙂

  2. Jacqui

    Oh they are gorgeous… you’re making *me* broody for chicks!


  3. What lovely clips of your new additions. They are so perfect and I love the look of surprise on Venice’s face when the chick jumps on her back! Great names for 2 little cuties.

  4. Cathryn

    That’s sad news about the other chicks, but I think you are quite right that they probably started incubating at different times. It doesn’t matter if the eggs are laid on different days, as long as they are collected promptly & kept at r.t. until they all go under the broody hen at the same time. But the two chicks you have look great and Venice doesn’t know she could have had more! They will grow v quickly and Venice will soon start to want to take them on adventures, but last year I lost two beautiful Barnevelder chicks to a crow, so beware of that risk.

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