It's springtime -- time for the birds and the bees to make more birds and bees! If you have a broody hen, you may want to break her up, or you may choose to let her hatch a clutch of eggs naturally. We had the mother hen above hatch eleven live baby chicks this spring. It was really cool to watch the babies walk around under her, learn how to eat and drink by watching her, and learn how to forage -- really early -- by going foraging with mama. We found that hens do a lot more mothering than we imagined, and even the rooster would stand guard while they foraged, keeping them safe. It was pretty adorable.
What's more, it was easy for us as farmers. No fussing with thermometers and lights, because the chicks regulated their temperature easily by moving in and out from under the mother. No worries about pasting up or combating the stress of being shipped from a hatchery across the country and spending several days in a mail truck. These are definitely the healthiest chicks we've ever had.
Learn how to hatch chicks with your own roosters and hens! Yes, for this you do need a rooster. It's about all they're good for, unless you love three a.m. alarm clocks.