Many modern hens are too refined to set on a nest of eggs and hatch chicks. The instinct to get “broody” is bred out of them, because they stop laying. Commercial farmers would rather mange egg production and incubation.
But silkies are notoriously wonderful mothers. My silkie hen got broody almost a month ago, and has just hatched seven chicks. Several are from my eggs, and several from a friend who has fertile eggs. The silkie sat on them in the hen house for a couple of weeks, and then one night I moved her and the eggs to the cage I have set up for chicks. It would have been too hard for her to manage them with all the big hens around, and they need different food.
I wasn’t sure that any eggs would hatch, especially as the 21 days turned into 24, but yesterday I was out doing some cleanup and the hen appeared with her many chicks. The two small white ones are silkies (from this mother and the silkie rooster). It looks like we have a Red, a couple of Amerianas and two Black Australorps. Of course they won’t be pure, because the rooster I had was a Polish rooster, and my friend has a mix of roosters, but it will be fun to see what they grow into.
The mother takes good care of them, and spreads her little feathery body to get all seven under her feathers when they need a warm break. Here’s one peeking out:
Right now they’re eating some stale bread, greens, and scratch. I need to go get some chick feed this morning–didn’t want to jinx it buy buying a bag early.