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Missing Hen Returns With Chicks

21 February 2011 7 Comments

We recently had a hen go missing. We’re not sure exactly when she disappeared, but for a few weeks she hasn’t been returning to the chook run at night, and we weren’t able to find her anywhere around the yard.

I figured maybe a fox, dog, eagle or snake might have gotten her, although there were no signs of a struggle or scattered feathers anywhere. I knew it was possible she might have found a hiding place to sit on some eggs, but I didn’t think it likely.

Turns out I was wrong!

On Saturday, we were walking around the yard deciding where to plant a few new trees. I noticed a tiny little animal scurry into the cover of a sweet potato vine, and thought it was a mouse or an injured bird. When we approached to investigate, the hen ran out to protect it and we realised it was a newly-hatched chick.

She had four chicks with her. They were tiny, and could only have been a day or so old.

The hen is a cross between an ISA Brown mother and a Barnevelder father. She turned out with a very pretty brown and cream banding, and lays lovely chocolatey-brown eggs. The father of these chicks was our Light Brahma rooster. The cunning blighter managed to sneak in one last clutch before we dispatched him!

I love the three cute little butts in this picture!

I checked the area near where we found the little family, and found her nesting place right in underneath a huge lemongrass bush. She must have been well-protected from the elements in there (we’ve had both pouring rain and scorching heat over the last three weeks!), and obviously no predators found her.

Build your own chicken coop.


  • Dirt Gently said:

    Hen and brood are adorable! And respect to the rooster: a player till the end.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Dirt Gently: He was a full-time player – he never knew that his end was coming :-).

  • Belinda said:

    soooo cute, we always get day old chicks from the hatchery to put under our broody hens as we are not allowed to keep a rooster! The kids love it!

  • Greenfumb said:

    What a lovely story, those chicks look gorgeous, what an unusual combination.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Belinda: That’s a great idea, too. I’ve supplied a few friends with fertile eggs to put under their broodies, and the kids love the excitement of watching them hatch. Both are good alternatives if you’re not able to keep a rooster.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Greenfumb: I’m glad the story had a happy ending! Almost all our young chickens now are crossbreeds, so we have a very motley crew.

  • Brendan said:

    So exciting all the chicken talk – have started plans for our own chicken coop here and am working on it each weekend. love the little chicks for broody hens idea.