Raising chickens is an activity that sometimes feels uninspiring and more like a chore than enjoyment.
This summer has been full of surprises; after letting the hens show me they’re in charge I’m thrilled to share that raising chicks naturally is a beautiful thing.
I have to be honest, raising chickens never excited me until I finally listened to my husband and decided to let our broody hens, incubate, hatch and raise their own chicks.
One of our hens was determined to be a mother this summer. I let her incubate a batch of chicks in the spring but decided to pull them after they hatched and placed in a brooder.
This was a big mistake because after I pulled the chicks the hen started looking for another batch of eggs to incubate. I gave in and decided to let her continue nesting and then another hen joined her. This was the moment when I decided let’s simplify and allow these gals to raise the chicks for me.
Prior to Chicks Hatching
Letting the hens incubate and raise their chicks seemed a little tricky because of our dog Dixie. We love her but she thinks everything new born is a meal and I just didn’t have the patience to deal with her persistence.
Once the birds are feathered she’s fantastic and does her best to protect them from predators.
Trying to figure out how to keep the chicks safe took me to our vacant quail run.
I built a little shelter house filled it with hay for the hens and their eggs and in they all went. The hens were happy with their new home and two days later baby chicks were climbing out of the house exploring outdoor living.
Within 12 hours they were free ranging.
When Hens Raise their Chicks
The best part was watching through the wire when the hens were teaching the little ones how to eat bugs and protect themselves by hiding in the tall grass.
I added chick starter feed and fresh water once a day but I was amazed at how they preferred to free range their way through the quail run enjoying their new found freedom.
This kept feed expenses to a minimum which was an unexpected benefit. Eventually one of the hens got tired of being cooped up and she left one morning when I was changing water out. I guess it was too much for her and she seemed happy to join the original flock.
Off to Free Range
Finally one June afternoon it was time to let these feathered chicks out with their mom to explore the farm. The others chicks were not far behind and it was just a few days later when this hen decided her work was done. She left the chicks and began looking for another batch of eggs to incubate.
Happy Smart Chicks
This new flock is pretty smart and always looking for one another as they travel throughout the farm. They’re free ranging just in time to help with grasshopper season.
I’m hooked on raising chicks naturally, this made fewer chores and what a blessing to not have brooders to clean. I changed out their hay bedding once a week and moved the house occasionally to keep the grass from getting destroyed.
My advice for raising baby chicks let your hen incubate fertile eggs, it’s less work and the experience will inspire. Remember chickens don’t need as much pampering as we may think. Do you raise your chicks naturally?