Last year I planned out this year’s batch of chicks. I counted them before they hatched. I counted them before their eggs were even layed. Losing one of my two broodies has changed everything. I have no idea how I’m going to get the chicks I want this year. I don’t want to brood them myself. That’s what I have hens for! Plus chicks raised by hens are just smarter than those brooded in a mostly sterile environment. Since the heat lamp has to be stationary, the chicks must be kept in a small area. A mother hen carries her heat lamp wherever she goes, so the chicks have access to all the areas and the interesting stuff in them as soon as she leaves the nest, about day 2 or 3.
I wanted 4 or 5 chicks this year, some to replace my laying flock and others for additional broodies. However, my remaining broody, a bantam named Georgia, can only fit one or two standard size chicks under her and then only for a few weeks. By three or four weeks old the chicks will be as big or bigger than she is! It’s possible that last year’s broody mama, Ginger, will go broody again this year, but she waited until late in the fall to do it. That’s a bit too late for me to count on her for the additions to this year’s flock.
And what if neither Georgia nor Ginger goes broody this spring? Last year’s molt took a terrible toll on my egg supply. I DO NOT want that to happen this fall. I need spring chicks to be laying by fall so that I can have more than 6 eggs a week from November to ?? It’s Jan and I still only have one hen laying, though two more look like they may start at any time.
What a conundrum!