I'll start by saying I'm scared.
I don't know what I'm doing no matter how many blogs about chickens I read online. My best instinct is to let mama hen do her job. So far, fellow friends and readers, she's been doing an 'egg'cellent job. Ha! Like my puniness? Okay, I'll get back on track.
Our first hen had been a Bantam we named Chee. She is black and so pretty. Our father's friend has Bantam's and gave us a set--rooster and pullet from chickhood. We were so egg-cited (sorry, couldn't help it) to have our first ever farm with our first ever chickens. After a few months, she started to lay but wouldn't nest so we did what any good farmer would--we ate the eggs. Fresh chicken eggs are so delicious! For a while, she laid, and we collected.
Then, one day, she had three eggs but nested on only two. We took the other one out because she didn't want it. So for two and a half weeks, we waited. Every day she laid on those two eggs, refusing to part with them. On day 19 of nesting, our broody Chee hatched two chicks. One had been very sick and weak and died on Day 2. One survived, and we named it Peep.
Peep is our first family hatchling. You can take them out, tend to them yourself, but I did what I thought had been best and that was to leave it with its mother. If I had instant instincts to care for my first baby, I'm sure Chee does too. Most hens aren't broody. They would rather not be mommies. But, a brooding hen is a hen that hatches her babies and cares for them.
For the past few days, we checked on them to make sure all is well. Our rooster, Daddy Newt, had been taken to a different part to make sure he doesn't attack the baby chick. Baby Peep is active, and Chee runs all over to shield him from any predators. However, one night, my husband went outside to relieve the dog and didn't hear any hens clucking (because we have two now) or roosters crowing (because we have two now too-another set was a gift from the same person). He went over to check and saw that Peep had found a way through some mesh and into Hei-Hei and Snowball's box area. We still have no clue how because all of them are separated by hardwire cloth. Hei-Hei and Snowball were on top of their nesting box just watching as Peep hid behind their water bowl feeder. Chee laid parallel of him behind the hardwire cloth clucking away worried, but she couldn't get to him. He could've been stuck there for hours.
My husband went into emergency mode. Peep barely moved and had his eyes closed. We heard horror stories of mother hens knowing their babies are sick or weak and killing them off. We didn't want that. He took Peep and ran to our house, and I went into 9-1-1 mode too. We have actual pullet chicks inside till they are strong enough to go out to the new hen coop we are putting together DIY style. I'll share that post later. They are pretty resilient and are five strong, so they can keep warm. In the meantime, we took their heating lamp and placed it over a box. I nestled Peep to my bosom to stay warm. My husband grabbed a box he had lying around, filled it with padding and ran outside to get Chee.
We checked Peep for wounds. We moved his legs and wings, and nothing had been out of place but for the fact that he seemed weak. In situations like these, I figure mother might know best. Chee came inside, and we placed Peep beside her. For a long minute, she moved it around with her beak but didn't maliciously peck at it.
She laid next to it but didn't cover Peep. We feared the worst would happen and our first farm baby would die. I had my husband lift her breasts and usher him under her. Mommy let him and Peep nestled underneath. I checked on them all night. Made sure the box had fresh water, chick grit, and chick feed all over for her. Around 6 a.m. I looked in and said "Good Morning, Chee." She got up and called baby to eat with her. Yay, she doesn't reject the chick. However, Peep still seems off. He pecks at the floor where there's food, but we aren't sure if Peep's eating. Peep likes to walk its way back under mom.
Update: Peep now walks out. Mom tells it to drink, and I caught Peep staying hydrated. Both eyes are open now, but it still sways a bit. Water has electrolytes in it for nutrient hydration, and grit has probiotics.
Caught a little video for Y'all.
For now, all we can do is wait. I don't want the baby to die, but I don't want to interfere because Chee's still doing her thing. Any reader recommendations?