Friday, May 16, 2008

A Chicken Life Partner?

Ok, I know that to most, chickens are quite boring, but I find their mindless stupidity quite entertaining. Recently, I had two hens decide to "go broody" (want to become moms) at the same time, so I set their eggs on the exact same day, knowing that all of their offspring would hatch within hours of each other. Weeks passed, and hatch day arrived. One lucky hen hatched out 9 fluff-balls, and the other only hatched 2. They both led their little broods down into the chicken house and proceeded to teach them that they are indeed chickens, and how to act as such. A minor problem developed in that none of the chicks really knew which one was their mother, and would all scurry over to whichever hen was clucking "Come see this." That night, one of the hens flew up to the 2nd story nest for bed, while the other hen stayed on the ground with the chicks. Next morning, both hens arose and continued to dual-mother the 11 chicks together. This pattern developed into quite the alternative chicken lifestyle in which we have the true "hen" chicken and the nifty addition of the "chicken life partner" or "assistant hen." Hen sleeps on the ground with the chicks, and takes care of them all night in true mothering fashion while the Assistant Hen sleeps in a toasty nest all by herself - undisturbed. Each morning, Assistant Hen, flies down to help raise the chicks. Aside from fertilization, Rooster is completely out of the picture.

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