You know how sometimes an idea sounds good in the beginning, but then goes horribly wrong, kinda like a Frankenstein movie?
These Americana chickens were free ranging out back when they were attacked by a neighbors dog, leaving one hen and a clutch of eggs. The hen was so traumatized that she did not return to the nest. I did not want to lose this breed of chicken, so I thought I would try to hatch out the eggs in the incubator. Unfortunately out of the 20 or so eggs only one chick hatched out.
Now I have always been told by my family, that a chick by itself will not survive. As my family has over a hundred years’ experience raising chickens commercially and non-commercially, I should have taken their advice. My wife seeing the chick, gave it a stay of execution. She heard were they used a feather duster as a surrogate mother, and so we gave it a try. Now while this seemed like a good idea at first, it would later prove to be a mistake.
|Cookidoo with feather duster mother|
Yes, the chick was happy with it’s feather duster mother, but as we tried to introduce him to the adult chickens we began to see problems. Physically he was a chicken, but psychologically he had no clue as to what he was or how to act like a chicken.
It began with him hiding in the feather duster when other chickens came around. I understand that if you had not seen another chicken before you might be a little frightened seeing another full grown chicken. Still, over time you would get over the initial shock I would think, but this did not happen.
|Cookidoo as adult rooster|
As the chick grew older and finally able to hold his own, I decided to try putting him in with the other chickens. I locked him in the hen house with the other chickens for several days so that he would know where to roost at night. He seemed to get along okay with the other chickens, but was still staying to himself. When I finally let the chickens back out into the run I was surprised to see him roosting outside of the hen house and not with the other chickens. He was an odd duck, and the other chickens knew it. He wasn't a bad looking rooster, but he just did not act right.
One day I was out in the chicken run feeding the chickens, and I hear around the corner what sounded like someone crushing an aluminum can. I looked around the corner and all I could see was Cookidoo just standing there as if nothing were wrong. I did note that a couple of aluminum cans had blown into the chicken run, but I did not make the connection between the aluminum cans and Cookidoo . I finally came out one day and heard an aluminum can being crushed, and immediately looked around only to see my crazy rooster trying to mate with a beer can. I was utterly amazed as I watched this unnatural event unfold. As I reached for my phone to videotape what was going on he stopped and gave me a dirty look, as if I had interrupted something very important. Although try as I might to videotape him sexually abusing aluminum cans, he always seemed to be aware of what I was trying to do and would immediately stop.
|Cookidoo flapping wings|
I thought maybe he eat some peyote or something, but there was no real vegetation growing in the chicken run and the feed was clean. This went on for a couple of days before he realized that the hens were a lot more interesting than an empty aluminum can. After that all the hens were runing for their lives and the Barred Rock rooster was out of breath chasing Cookidoo all over the yard in an attempt to keep him away from the hens. The hens stopped laying eggs for a week because he was always trying to get on top of the hens as they were trying to lay eggs. I was now finding broken eggs because the nest box only has room for one hen, not a hen and a rooster. I tried to put him outside the run, but he always found a way back in. To this day he still does strange things but he has slowed down and the hens are not as nervous as they used to be.
So the next time someone tells you that you can raise a chick by itself, think about this, "Just because you can do something, does not mean you should do something."