Raising a Clutch – The Value of a Mother Hen

Until Madeleine secretly hatched a clutch of nine eggs under a porch in May 2010, I was content to purchase baby chicks and raise them.
Madeleine and newly hatched chicks
When they were just a few days, she brought them out to explore the big wide world.
Madeleine and three day old chicks
It didn’t take long to realize that a mother hen offers a lot to baby chicks. Not only does she show them where to find food and water, she provides a warm place to take naps. You don’t need any heat lamps when you have a mother hen. You don’t even need to get starter scratch. A mother hen will crack larger grains for her brood, and if given the freedom to roam outdoors, she’ll dig up plenty of bugs and worms for them. Chicken farmers who raise broiler chickens on pasture don’t actually let their chicks outdoors until they are four weeks old. By using mother hens, my chicks get to be outdoors enjoying the sun, pasture, woodland and creeks within a few days of hatching. They also are often outdoors at the crack of dawn, and stay out until it starts to get dark.
Madeleine and 3 day old chick
And she keeps careful watch over them as she takes them around.
Madeleine and two week old chicks
Madeleine and two week old chicks
By the time the chicks are two weeks old, they are running all over the place. It takes a lot of work for a mother hen to keep her brood together.
Madeleine and two week old chicks
Chicks are very curious and love exploring new places.
Madeleine 2010-05-23
Here they are at three weeks.
Madeleine and 3 week old chicks
Madeleine and one month old chicks
And by the time they are a one month old, Madeleine is ready to set them free.
Madeleine off on her own after raising her chicks for one month.
Her mothering done, Madeleine takes a well deserved stroll through the woods.
After watching all the care Madeleine put into raising her brood and how much her chicks loved having a mother, I decided that as much as possible, I’d leave the chick rearing to mother hens. The next time you pick up your chicken in your grocery store or farmers market, ask if it was raised by a loving mother.

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3 Responses to Raising a Clutch – The Value of a Mother Hen

  1. Teri says:

    Precious. Your site is so wonderful. I’m so glad she secretly did that because it opened your eyes and now educates others.

  2. Thank you. Love and caring is something many animals share with us. It’s my position that even chickens have a right to express and experience it.

  3. Judy says:

    I’m so glad that I found your site. Just looking around for organic animal farms in Western Washington and there you were. I have spent an hour reading your whole site. Now I am ready for a chicken.! And am convinced not to have one any other way. Thank you for sharing your experience and following your heart.

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